While making an appearance this week on Uncut with Jay Cutler, Duane Chapman talked about his decades-long career in bounty hunting. Most people know Chapman as Dog the Bounty Hunter from his popular A&E reality series. During his interview, Chapman opened up about the hit show that made him a household name and produced several spinoffs.
The reality show, Dog the Bounty Hunter, aired on A&E from 2004 to 2012. If you never saw it, the premise was pretty straightforward. The reality series followed Chapman’s daily encounters in Hawaii and his home state of Colorado as a bounty hunter. Yet most fans likely don’t know how the show came about.
Within the bail bonds industry, Chapman was well-known for his work for several decades. He tracked down the most fugitives of any bounty hunter in the nation. That made him the No. 1 bondsman in America. Yet interest in giving Chapman his own show dates back to the late 1980s.
The bounty hunter made speeches at self-help guru Tony Robbins‘ seminars, and Robbins also put him in his best-selling book. Multiple networks had an interest in Chapman, especially if he could capture the experience of bounty hunting on camera. Yet certain network execs were hesitant at first since they worried about any legal ramifications of airing arrests on TV.
“[The president of A&E] came to me and said, ‘I’ll give you eight shows. Can you really do this? Is it legal?’” Chapman shared on Uncut with Jay Cutler. “And I showed her the laws and said, ‘Yea.’ She’s like, ‘Can you do it with the cameras?’ I go, ‘I hope so.’”
Dog the Bounty Hunter Explains How Difficult It Was to Keep Camera Operators On the Show
Working on a show based on tracking down fugitives had its own production challenges. At times, Duane Chapman and his bounty hunting crew were chasing down hardened criminals. In fact, sometimes they were going after people on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
So, it wasn’t always easy finding camera operators that stuck with the job and stayed with the show. It took time to get together a team of six cameramen who could handle the daily pressures on and off-camera.
“You know, you kick a door and say, ‘Say your prayers right now, bruh. Cause in the next few minutes you might be standing in front of Jesus.’ On your mark, get set, boom! ‘Freeze!’ I’d turn around and the camera [operators] were under the car,” Chapman amusingly explained.
You can’t blame them though. Chapman and his crew had decades of experience dealing with fugitives on the run. Most of the camera operators had likely never been in that kind of an environment in their whole lives.
“So we called a bunch of sound guys [and] camera guys,” Chapman said. “We went through a bunch before we found guys brave enough to hang right with me. So we had a great camera crew [eventually]. We went to three different networks. We went to A&E for nine years. Then we did three years at CMT. And then we did a year with WGN. Now we’re doing streaming and we’re ready to launch a new show like I told you, The Essentials. So we’re still doing the bounty hunting.”
Dog the Bounty Hunter talks about that and much more during this week’s new episode of the podcast. Make sure to check out his full conversation with host Jay Cutler in the video above, or tune in and listen to Uncut with Jay Cutler on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts.