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'Swamp People' stars stay grounded

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POSTED: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 6:46pm

UPDATED: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 11:39am

If you've caught an episode of this season's "Swamp People," you're bound to have seen Blake McDonald, 26, and his younger cousin, Austyn Yoches, 21.

The cousins are the newest reality stars on History Channel's popular show. The duo was chosen for the show out of hundreds of Louisiana hopefuls.

The two-person team do their best gator hunting together. "We was raised together. We get along together. We don't fight. We don't argue," says Blake.

The pair grew up in the swamp. "We've been doing this since I was wearing diapers," Blake says. "That's all I've ever done."

"It's just really one of the few things that I know really how to do well," adds Austyn.

They learned the ropes from their grandfather, Earl Crabtree. "It's hard work. It's very demanding, very stressful, and very, very dangerous," Crabtree explains. "You don't make many mistakes with an 800 pound alligator. He has no conscience."

The cousin's love for the hunt became their full-time job. "It's still exciting," Austyn says. "If it wasn't exciting, I probably wouldn't be doing it."

After years of building a livelihood in the bayou, the guys decided to audition for "Swamp People."

"Just watching the saw, we saw that it was us," Blake says. "We figured we'd go down there and tell them about it, see if they like us."

They landed a spot on the show. "It was a good feeling because I knew that I was going to get to do what I love and show everybody else what I do," Austyn says.

The two say being TV talen hasn't made them any different. "My life hasn't changed any. Even if I wasn't on the show, I'd still be commercial fishing. I'd still be alligator hunting," Austyn says.

They're just happy to have a chance to share their passion with the rest of the world. "A lot of people don't even know that [the swamp] exists out there," Blake says. "I like for people to be able to see what's going on out there."

If you want to meet the swamp savvy stars, head over to Big Mike's Sports Bar and Grill in Denham Springs Thursday at 6:30. The cousins will be taking fan photos and selling t-shirts until their new episode airs at 8:00.

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