INTERVIEW: Trapper opens up about hunting monsters, making memorable TV

The cast of Mountain Monsters on Destination America includes John "Trapper" Tice, center. Photo courtesy of Jason Elias / Destination America.
The cast of Mountain Monsters on Destination America includes John “Trapper” Tice, center. Photo courtesy of Jason Elias / Destination America.

His name is John Tice, otherwise known as “Trapper,” the star of Destination America’s successful series Mountain Monsters. For several years, Tice and company have been traveling throughout Appalachia looking for all things mystical and marvelous. From a giant fire dragon to Bigfoot, the suspected creatures are numerous and steeped in legends that run deep among the community of believers.

On Mountain Monsters, which airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on Destination America, Tice offers matter-of-fact statements about the clues he finds in the woods. For some viewers, the action and questionable findings don’t quite attain the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt threshold. For the many other viewers who have made the reality series a hit, watching Tice and the rest of the Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings (AIMS) is pure fun.

“I have to be surprised,” Tice said of the series’ success. “I’m just an old country boy off Sugar Creek here in West Virginia.”

AIMS finds its cases entirely through witnesses. The witness network, Tice said, is growing daily thanks to the AIMS website. Team member and AIMS co-founder Jeff Headlee monitors the many requests for investigations, and the cases are built off his research. “And if we have three or four good witnesses in one area saying the same thing, that’s where we’ll go to,” Tice said.

The AIMS team, including John "Trapper" Tice, investigates a lead. Photo courtesy of Destination America / Jeremy Brigden.
The AIMS team, including John “Trapper” Tice, investigates a lead. Photo courtesy of Destination America / Jeremy Brigden.

The TV personality didn’t use the word “scared” when describing the team’s nighttime investigating of all the creatures that go bump in the night, but they often find themselves “surprised.”

“When you’re after one creature and another one appears, that’s happened,” he said. “That happened last season, and it’s very dramatic.”

Tice has been a hunter his entire life, and it’s his love for the outdoors that naturally led to the mountain investigating. “If you spend as much time in the woods as I do, and if you see things and you hear things that you don’t understand, that makes you want to investigate,” he said. “So I think that’s where it all came from. I’m not putting anyway down, but the whole team, my whole team, is hunters, every one of us. We’re deer hunters. We’re trappers, so we have many, many years of experience on this team, hundreds of years of experience. We’re not a concrete person going out in the woods for the first time looking for a Bigfoot. We’re a person that can read signs, and when I say signs — a mark on a tree, a footprint, leaves are turned.”

From left, Jeff and Trapper take a look at measurements on Mountain Monsters. Photo courtesy of Destination America / Jeremy Brigden.
From left, Jeff and Trapper take a look at measurements on Mountain Monsters. Photo courtesy of Destination America / Jeremy Brigden.

Tice added: “I survived Vietnam because my dad made me a great squirrel hunter. Hours and hours in the woods, and the Army can’t teach you that. I can see a leaf was turned wrong or anything wasn’t right. I can recognize that well in advance.”

AIMS has cameras out in the field when they are collecting evidence. They often begin the investigation and research before the TV cameras from Destination America even start recording. Tice wants to be well-prepared for any situation that might arise.

Of course, it helps that Tice and his team, which includes a host of personalities with TV-ready nicknames like Buck, Huckleberry and Wild Bill, know the surroundings well. They have called Appalachia home for a long, long time. In fact, Willy, a team member and expert trap builder, was born down the road from Tice (“I’ve known Willy since he was a pup”).

“Appalachia is the greatest place in the United States to live,” Tice added. “It really is. The people here are just so kind, and gentle and so forward to you. Maybe that’s because we’re hill people ourselves. You get the four seasons here. Of course, we’re not doing much hunting right now because we’re covered up from a foot of snow in the West, 40 inches in the East, in the mountains. So nothing’s moving much now. The roads are just got cleared from this weekend’s snowstorm. So everything’s pretty quiet. Even the creatures, when you get bad weather like this, will lay up. The deer lay up. The Bigfoot lay up. Nothing moves, so this time of year is not really a good time to do investigations.”

Over dozens of episodes, the AIMS crew has grown used to the camera and sound operators who follow them into the woods. Tice said he offered them some “outdoors training” in the beginning, and now they are “pretty good outdoorsmen.”

“Now they know how to stay out of our way,” he said. “Once in a while you’ll see me turn and talk to a cameraman to get back a little bit, or come here or look at this, which we were really shy of doing in season one.”

Tice, who is a retired construction worker, is fairly kind to the skeptics who might not believe in the same confidence that AIMS team members have when it comes to these creatures. He seemingly strikes a balance and ties the skepticism back to the reality series. “Well, there’s always going to be believers, and there’s always going ot be skeptics,” he said. “That’s just the way this world is. To the believers, we’re out there to prove that they’re correct. To the skeptics, just keep watching.”

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

  • Mountain Monsters airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on Destination America. Click here for more information. Click here for Hollywood Soapbox’s previous interview with John “Trapper” Tice.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

36 thoughts on “INTERVIEW: Trapper opens up about hunting monsters, making memorable TV

  • February 8, 2016 at 3:36 am
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    I cannot believe ANYONE would take this show OR these guys,SERIOUS. I’m sure,as hunters, they’ve seen their fair share of things that go bump in the night but the audience NEVER gets to SEE ANYTHING BELIEVABLE! I’ve watched several times,hoping something would be shown but its the same BS, over and over again. The WITNESS just ‘happened’,to get a picture or video, but we don’t get to see Jack. Oh well y’all are making big bucks ,blowing smoke up folk’s butts,while paying the Yahoos to make fools out of themselves. I guess showing some REAL PROOF doesn’t matter and all of you fellas can continue laughing your heads off,all the way to the bank! I, for one,will remain DISAPPOINTED that yours is yet ANOTHER BS show,that can’t be taken seriously. It NEVER will be as long as the audience doesn’t get to SEE ANYTHING BELIEVABLE.

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    • April 10, 2016 at 12:33 am
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      I agree with you 100%. Like you stated, the witness always has a video and they only show you for a split sec. And there’s always a worn out shed or barn of some sort in the woods. And let’s not get started on those stupid traps. I watched a few times, but just like the other bullshit show ” finding Bigfoot ” I stopped watching after seeing it’s just a gag show.

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    • April 10, 2016 at 12:39 am
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      Also, you notice how they put fangs on the Bigfoot images, trying to make it look scary and viscous.

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      • April 30, 2017 at 10:07 am
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        Ken couldn’t agree with you more

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    • July 16, 2016 at 6:00 pm
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      To all non believers. If you dont like the show simply dont watch it

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    • August 10, 2016 at 7:13 pm
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      Hey there Trapper, I like your show.
      I think I may have seen a big foot once wile I was a road trucker.I was somewhere in the rockie mountains around calafornia.
      I was parked along side of the road for a bit.Then I was getting ready to go and something was looking in my side window.
      Freaked me out so bad I left.
      I sure like your show and I do believe.
      Sure would like to go on a hunt with you all.
      I was born and raised in Northern Kentucky, now I live in CINCINNATI, Ohio.
      Will continue to watch your show.

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    • April 10, 2017 at 10:00 am
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      Good Luck with that!! You’ll never see anything believable, cause it doesn’t exist!

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      • May 6, 2017 at 12:16 am
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        The show is for entertainment and it is a good show for just that, but the statement you made about not existing is showing how ignorant you are, in a great big world of where only 7 percent of the ocean has been explored and not much more of the woods has been looked into. When the maker made us he made a lot of other creatures. I hope someday you cross that closed door and bump into bigfoot because I know they are real because I have seen with my own eyes and thousands and thousands of other people have seen them to. It would do you good to get educated before you make a statement like that

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    • April 15, 2017 at 6:33 pm
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      Your not kidding. Squirrel Hunter? He from Long Island in reality.

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  • February 11, 2016 at 6:48 pm
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    Hello. I believe that their are things in this world that Can Not Be Explained. Their are Places that People Can Not Even Imagine. Even Your Camera Men Can’t believe it. So when things get a little tight, some of Their pictures don’t Come out coz they too are to busy running. Some of U All should Loose Some weight so things go a lot Smoother n Your Cart or smaller vehicle don’t flip over, and it is Good For U Alls Health. Just an idea for Your Show. Keep up the good Work. GODS Blessings

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    • May 6, 2017 at 12:17 am
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      Thank you because the is without a doubt other creatures other than us

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  • February 27, 2016 at 7:25 pm
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    i want to know where the bigfoot body went that thoes other guys took from trapper an the team

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  • April 15, 2016 at 12:27 am
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    Guess you will be a skeptic til you see something in the woods surprises you.

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  • April 17, 2016 at 2:45 am
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    I enjoy watching this show these guys are great to watch and they are entertaining and lets leave it at that.

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  • May 1, 2016 at 5:35 pm
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    are the other groups in the woods when they hunt for real?why not hunt in the daylight,most witnesses pictures are in the daytime.also,read some of the writings of richard shaver?he claimed his experiences were real,and he spent at least two years in the innerearth.the appalachian mountains are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.

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  • June 11, 2016 at 4:01 pm
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    When are you guys coming back on TV? I miss you all!!

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  • August 9, 2016 at 10:14 am
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    i did think it was real for a start. but the more i watched it i agree with you, the say things are running around them yet u dont see a thing, the infa red never shows anything but the supposed creature, no other wildlife, and bigfoot, despite been scarce on video etc they seem to have endless witnesses that just happen to have audio or video, disappointed but still watch it for the hillbilly humour

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  • August 10, 2016 at 11:42 pm
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    It doesn’t matter to those of us who have actually seen a creature, if ANYONE believes it or not. Yes, it’s an entertaining show, yes, you don’t get to SEE the creature. But YES, there is SOMETHING out there! I was 8 years old when my Uncle, my Mother & I saw them. YES! I said THEM! I will never forget it. I’ll be 65 soon, it’s still clear in my mind. They ran in front of the car for a short distance, then jumped up on the bank of the road off into the woods. I won’t forget it, can’t forget it.

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  • September 2, 2016 at 8:32 am
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    Hey Trapper ,
    Love the show won’t miss it buddy , how ever until recently I got to admit I to was sceptical but one faithful evening I was visiting my mom on her farm down in Liberty Ky , when about 100 yards from me across an open field just into the edge of the woods I caught some movement under a cluster of pine tree’s .Well at first I thought it was a bear then to my surprise it stood up on two feet and was reaching up with a stick trying to get something from in the tree now that shows skills and knowledge of tools if it knows to use a stick so slap my ass and call me crazy I am a believer now .

    Reply
  • January 31, 2017 at 8:00 pm
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    It’s hard to explain why I enjoy mountain monsters so much. I must say it makes me forget about life for a little while. I need that escape from the harshness of everyday life. Sure it may all be fictious but it’s clean entertainment that obviously plenty of people enjoy. Keep up the good work.

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  • February 22, 2017 at 8:25 pm
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    Mountain monsters is so addicting but I get scared…..a lot! The grassman is the one that scared the living dead out of me. In the start I thought it was a total hoax and there’s no way that what they were going after was real,but now I know that everything they go after is real.My personal favorite is when they catch the infamous hogzilla,now that thing was huge!!
    Those men are so brave and compared to me I’m just a little ant if I went after those creatures I would just kill myself right then and there.

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  • February 24, 2017 at 10:07 pm
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    I love the show. As an avid hunter, outdoorsman and home grown Bama redneck, I know it’s all fake, but the show is hilarious. These ol hillbillies are the same fun loving outgoing comical characters everywhere. From West Virginia to South Bama they’re honest true blue American hero’s. Doesn’t matter if the creatures they chase are real or fake, that’s totally irrelevant. The show is good family fun and that’s why I love it!

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  • April 9, 2017 at 12:18 am
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    Good Job boys.. Love the show. Willie us a trap genius. . Wild bill you are to loud be quite so y’all can catch the bigfoot.. I am a total believer in the exists of bigfoot… There are things out there that can’t be explained. . I know for a fact.. Aims keep up the good work.. Let’s get one in a trap so all the non believers will finally shut up…

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  • April 10, 2017 at 7:04 am
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    I did watch a marathon of mountain monsters, very entertaining. However I can’t understand how anyone can deep down think its for real. I wanted to, but any brief glimpse of anything on the show seems propped or staged. Buck seems like he is ready to take over, and he is very funny. I will continue to watch but the last five minutes of every show is where all the best action is. For those that think its real just think of this, Willie and Wild Bill supposedly spend about a day building a trap in the center of the action, always without incident. Then the team comes out at night and in about an hour is pushing whatever monster into it. Wouldn’t Willie and Wild Bill occasionally have a run in lol?

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  • April 15, 2017 at 5:58 pm
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    I LOVE IT! Those guys are funny. I am a born and raised Kentuckian, and I know a lot of guys just like them, but they don’t have their own TV show. I just wish they would not cuss so much, My boys (11, 13, and 16) love it but I feel bad letting them watch because their language is so bad. I also wish they would carry a defibrillator, I’m a little worried about Buck doing all that running.

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  • April 15, 2017 at 10:34 pm
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    Yo trapper I bet u would have never believed old big foot is alive an well in Manorville ny county of Suffolk in the great state of long island ny and believe me brother I still can’t wrap my head around it but he is here

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  • April 15, 2017 at 11:51 pm
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    Say what you will, skeptics, but I believe. I’ve seen ghosts, but that’s another story. Once met a fellow who said he saw Bigfoot up in the Trinity Mountains in northern California. The way he told his story – if you could hear it – I know he wasn’t lying. I’ve been in the backwoods of the Trinity Alps and have experienced a overwhelming feeling that I was being watched. Go see for yourself.

    Reply
  • April 22, 2017 at 11:16 pm
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    TRAPPER (JOHN) IF YOU’D LIKE TO KEEP THIS SHOW RUNNING , YOU REALLY NEED TO LOSE BUCK (he must be someone nephew ). To try to keep the show believable don’t try to pass off that butterball as someone who could run 50 feet in the woods. Being a 45 year hunter , trapper , fisherman I know from experience with those who begged to join me that a man of his girth ( and growing constantly ) couldn’t make it up and embankment no less what your editing shows. When he was listed as an apprentice his firearm skills were laughable and anyone near his was taking their life in their hand. He was incapable of safely handling his shotgun. Kin or not ,long past time to take action. Sorry Buck , expert tracker….pfft

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  • April 23, 2017 at 6:18 pm
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    Excellent observation! How come their traps NEVER catch anything at all? Where does Willy and Wild Bill get the steel and lumber to construct these traps on the deep woods ASAP? However, it is a great show and one other point, I have watched this show from its inception so how come not one of these AIM team members have ever fired a shot at any so called “Monsters”?

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  • April 30, 2017 at 3:22 pm
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    Well….if it’s real or fake it is a good show. It makes Me laugh…cry…all that good stuff. The hour just flies by. My hubby and I watch it every week and we both love the show and the people on it. If nothing else it is harmless fun. It’s a hell of a lot better than some of the other crap reality shows that are on TV. Wish I knew exactly what happened to Trapper but…I hope he gets better soon.

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  • May 5, 2017 at 11:03 am
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    Love your shows trapper and all. But guys if your chasing big foot or what ever monster your pushing though a wood. it want to get away not stop for Sunday dinner in a trap. But love watching show and not miss a episode.

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  • May 16, 2017 at 7:03 pm
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    For the people that don’t like the show or believe in Big foot well that’s what the channel button on your remote is for use it, I’ve been in the woods before and heard a sound I’ve never heard before and I was hauling ass out of there looking behind me as much as I was looking forward. I’m not saying it was a Big foot or anything like that but being in the woods of Pennsylvania since I was a boy I’ve heard just about everything that crawled, flew or slithered and I ain’t heard nothing like that. But until they have one on a slab science and skeptics aren’t gonna believe it so till then the teams like A.I.M.S. and the BFRO keep doing what’s your doing I’ll keep watching.

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  • May 28, 2017 at 9:01 pm
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    I love this show! Real or Fake? People used to say the same thing about Pro Wrestling. Look how that turned out.

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  • May 28, 2017 at 9:10 pm
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    What I can’t understand is the Woman of the Woods. Is she a woman or a girl? Willy, Jeffro, Hucleberry and Wild Bill call her a girl. Somebody needs to tell Buck before next weeks episode. Looks like she is ready to propose. Jeff was not the one because he was too old. Yes Buck is too fat but he is young. Does anyone have any answers that they can share on this?

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  • June 19, 2017 at 9:06 pm
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    This show is the best. The new season, not so much with all the Blair-witch style stupidity. Just get back to crazy rednecks running around in the woods chasing things. Wild Bill is my favorite…he’s exactly like the good ‘ol boys I go hog hunting with in South Carolina. You cant fake that kind of hillbilly enthusiasm.

    Reply

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