Though he tries to forge a human connection with every fugitive he captures, Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman says this season of his Saturday night CMT hit Dog and Beth: On the Hunt is an especially personal one — because of his own redemption. Chapman, his family and his bounty-hunting crew (now including 22-year-old daughter Cecily) return to Texas, where Dog did prison time nearly 40 years ago.
“I consider myself a little bit Texan, so it’s exciting and very emotional,” says a choked-up Chapman of the place where he decided to get on the right side of the law for good. “We got to go back there and I thought, ‘Thirty-five years ago, I was picking cotton right over there and looking up to God and saying, ‘I’m so sorry, man. How can I make it up to you? How am I going to make my mom and dad proud, and my family, and all the Indians that love me and expect me to be something? How am I ever going to do that?’ Then 35 years later, to look over that cotton row and see that field — no words to explain that.”
Asked if some Season 3 stories will hit as close to home as sending son Christopher to rehab at the end of Season 2, Dog says it’s important to him that audiences see that he practices what he preaches.
“My mother used to say to me before she passed away, ‘Son, that’s some mother’s son. Would you do that with your own child?’” Dog explains. “I got to do last season, with Christopher. I didn’t meet him until 1991. I got to do what I tell everyone else to do. Put him in rehab — don’t love him to death literally — but put him in rehab and straighten him up. I got to show the world that if I’m going to throw your kid in jail, I’m going to throw my kid in jail. It’s close to home all the time. It never leaves. You’re always thinking about stuff like that.”
Dog also says that Beth fans will have even more to love in the new season.
“Wait until you see her this time — I can’t tell you, but wait until you see Texas,” he laughs. “I’ll just tell you really fast. A guy gets away from Leland, but not Beth. Oh my God. You should hear that crazy nut. She sings really good. She can sing [the song from] Titanic and you’ll start crying. For her to yell like that — in tune — that’s what gets them. Listen, we were in Denver at Gilley’s, the country western bar, and this girl was singing with Beth. Beth was singing with her, a duet kind of thing and the girl got really loud — ‘You don’t want to mess with my party’ or something — and looked at Beth, like, degrading. The song was like, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll boot the door down on your party.’ Beth fired back with that and her voice skipped an octave. Everyone went, ‘Holy @#$%. Did you hear her?’ She’s like normal singing and all of a sudden she pops into the — like when she screams ‘you idiot mother@#$%er!’ — she gets that opera voice. They’re like, ‘Holy@#$%. What was that?’ A guy told me the other day, ‘I wasn’t scared of you, Dog. I was scared of Beth.’ I said, ‘Oh great. Thanks a lot, buddy.’
Since so many fans tuned into Dog the Bounty Hunter and now Dog and Beth on the Hunt to bond with the Chapman family they’ve come to l0ve, Dog says he and Beth have another show in mind that they’re eager to get launched.
“We’re thinking about ‘Meet the Chapmans,’” he explains. “Once in awhile, we would bounty hunt, probably, my youngest is 14 now and a lot of things are changing in the world today. Nowadays you can turn into a boy or a girl and nobody says you’re demon possessed. My mom and daddy never said, ‘Son, sit down. Now this was a guy that you saw in the Olympics and now he’s a girl.’ My mother is Indian, my dad is a white man in the Navy in the ’50s. You become a father, grandfather by example, OK? There’s a lot of things that the baby boomers do not have any kind of examples to follow — that we have to go to the Bible or our self-help groups, Tony Robbins, something to be able to get information how to do it. I think that ‘Meet the Chapmans’ — the real inside story, the real what makes you tick, the real when we sit around the house, when we read the victims’ report and all my little kids start crying and my little Bonnie says, ‘Daddy, you’ve got to get this guy.’ Then she calls me every couple hours, ‘Did you get him? Did you get him? Dad, did you give him a cigarette?’ There’s a lot of stuff that we don’t show that I think it’s about time America did see.”
We asked the tough guy with a tender heart for struggling souls, babies, his fans and his family to hunt down some answers to our “5 Questions.”
- If your TV only carried three shows or networks, which ones would you choose? Hawaii Five-0, Criminal Minds and Dancing With the Stars.
Seriously? Beth should totally be on Dancing With the Stars. That woman can do anything in heels.
I know, but I don’t want them guys grabbing her [chest]. Golfing lessons, tennis lessons and Dancing With the Stars … NOT!
- What are three things you have to have in your refrigerator or pantry?
Milk and cereal are always in there. And Bonnie tells me, “Dad, I’m an Asian girl trapped in a white girl’s body.” She’s just 16. I’m like, “All right, Bonnie.” “Dad, would you like some sushi?” “All right, Bonnie.” She constantly eats Asian food like sushi, so that’s always in there.
- Tell me about your most memorable fan encounter.
On Twitter this little girl wrote to me. Caroline. She was 9 years old and she said, “Dog, would you please pray for my cat? It’s dying. It got ran over by a car.” Right below it, some guy started talking about my mullet, so I wrote the guy back about the mullet and told him about his mama and blah, blah, blah, right? For about an hour, this guy and I argued back and forth. A couple days later, Caroline wrote me back on Twitter and said, “Dog, my cat died, but if I would have talked about your mullet, you would have called me.” I had to call her and say, “Listen, I’m so sorry that I did that.” Since that day, I have never read any more negative press about myself because that little fan got to me. I still talk to her all the time. She’s 14 now. Uncle Dog, she calls me.
- Tell me about a time that you yourself were starstruck.
Last week! I walked through Craig’s in L.A. and standing in front of me was Les Moonves, the president of CBS. I was like, “Les!” He’s like, “Dog!” I’m like, “No! He totally knows my name!” I told him, “Thank you for renewing Hawaii Five-0 [on which Chapman has guest-starred]. I have a part-time job!” [Laughs] It was Les Moonves and Denzel Washington and Russell Simmons — all in the same room with Dog the Bounty Hunter. I was like, “Oh my God.”
- What is a hidden talent that you have that might surprise even your most longtime, diehard fans?
I’m a fisherman! I am probably one of the greatest anglers there is in the country. I never have been stumped, not caught any fish. I’m very patient and I try different bait. It’s like catching a fugitive — you try different stuff. They might not like worms today. They might want corn. They may not want corn today. They might want marshmallows. I pretend like I’m hunting the biggest fish in the lake, right? I sit on the lake and I chant. The Bible says, “I give you dominion over the animals of the ground and the fish of the sea.” I say that out loud and I chant. If a psychiatrist would see me fishing, I’d be put in a straitjacket.”
Dog and Beth: On the Hunt Season 3 premieres Saturday, July 18, at 9/8CT on CMT.