Since its third season, History’s reality show “Ax Men” — which recently ended its sixth season — has featured Shelby “Swamp Man” Stanga, who retrieves valuable sunken timber from the bottom of southern Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Swamp.
Of all the colorful loggers featured on the show, Stanga — who’s been living in the swamps north of New Orleans since he was 9 — may be furthest out of the box.
He doesn’t wear a great deal; few outsiders can understand a word he says; he’s prone to taking outrageous chances with equipment, brown swamp water and thunder-and-lightning storms; and his dog, Willy, moves just enough to prove he’s neither dead nor a stuffed animal.
Airing Tuesdays, History’s “The Legend of Shelby the Swamp Man”
is an eight-episode, half-hour series that has followed Stanga on his quest to buy a new houseboat to replace the one that got wrecked in Hurricane Isaac.
Apparently there aren’t that many houseboats for sale in the swamp, so Stanga has had to venture into the outside world – encountering such novelties as escalators and airplanes – to find a new home.
Matt Ginsburg, History’s executive producer for the show, says he and his colleagues just loved Stanga’s attitude.
“I love Shelby’s philosophy of life,” he tells Zap2it
. “Barefoot and no brakes through the swamp — there’s something to be said for that. Obviously, it’s very entertaining.”
Ginsburg is even fond of the largely immobile Willy.
“Willy’s alive and well,” he says. “It’s so funny, because I’d love to put a bubble above his head and tap into what he’s thinking.”
“Shelby the Swamp Man” brings to three the number of shows on History featuring swamp inhabitants; the others are “Swamp People” and “Ax Men,” which now has a second swamp-logging team.
“There’s a real purity to people in the swamp,” says Ginsburg. “It’s a straightforward and uncomplicated approach to life,that is aspirational. For Shelby, here’s a guy who lives life on his own term. Obviously he loves what he’s doing.”