Most folks know Duane Chapman by his stage name, Dog the Bounty Hunter. He worked as a professional bounty hunter in the past, and he’s still at it.
Duane was ultimately able to parlay his work experience into TV stardom through a realty show based on his unique creds.
He became an international news item in 2003, when he apprehended Max Factor heir Andrew Luster. The keen interest and revved up publicity in the Luster story paved the way for his first reality series “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” which ran for eight years on the A&E network.
After the show completed its run, Duane jumped into another reality show, along with his wife Alice Elizabeth, best known as “Beth.” The show, “Dog and Beth: On the Hunt,” was part of the CMT lineup. Another series, “Dog’s Most Wanted,” aired on WGN America.
In a sad turn of events, Beth lost her battle with throat cancer in 2019. Her health struggles were chronicled in an A&E series titled “Dog and Beth: Fight of Their Lives.”
Most recently, Duane appeared, via a vocal performance, on the hit television show “The Masked Singer.” Dressed in gold armadillo attire, he presented The Clash’s “I Fought The Law.”
Although voted off the show, he didn’t skip a beat. He immediately moved on to his next task, which involved a manhunt over a reported double murder in Moab, Utah.
Duane knows exactly what it’s like to be on the opposite side of the law. At age 15, he ran away from home and joined a biker gang. It was back in the 1970s, when he was manning a getaway car, that his friend shot and killed a man during a struggle that involved an illegal marijuana buy.
Convicted of first degree murder, Duane was sentenced to five years in a Texas prison and wound up serving 18 months at the State Penitentiary. Through it all, the future bounty hunter was guided to a deeper relationship with God.
In a recent appearance on “The Prodigal Stories Podcast,” he revealed some of the details of his faith journey. Duane’s mother was an Assemblies of God minister who believed in the power of prayer.
“She was a pastor. My mother … all day long, her whole life, all she did was pray for us,” he said.
Going to church was a routine part of his early life.
“We had to go to church,” he shared.
If he didn’t, his mom would take away the keys to his wheels.
Like many who are raised in a faith-filled home, at one point he fell away from his faith. It happened during his youthful tumultuous years.
Rationalizing, he thought, “[God is] not going to care really what I do as long as I say the blessing and keep God kind of first.”
Soon he discovered that trying to fool yourself about your relationship with your Maker can lead you down a very dark path. In Duane’s case, it was a crime-ridden one.
“After going to prison in the ‘70s in Texas for 18 months, I realized right then that, at the end of this rainbow of crime and all that, is not a bucket of gold, it’s a cell,” he said.
Despite his criminal conviction and prison sentence, Duane’s mother never gave up on improving her son’s spiritual standing. After serving his time and being released from jail, his mom found a way to minister to him during his sleeping hours.
“As I slept, my mom put on a recording of the Bible, and every morning, when I woke up, I’m like, ‘Mom, why did you?’ She’s like, ‘I don’t know who turned that on,’” Duane said.
As time passed, his mother’s efforts and prayers began to produce miraculous results.
“I started acting nice,” he said, understanding that it would be difficult to sustain.
“I’m an Indian outlaw, so I started acting like I wasn’t [nice]. Then I started thinking, ‘What would Jesus do right now?’”
Duane found out that virtue can actually become a habit.
“I started pretending to be good and, all the sudden, I started being good.”
During his long and successful career as a bounty hunter, he has captured thousands of fugitives. The hardships that he suffered enable him to help others in a way that very few can – a vessel of saving grace delivered to a fellow wayward traveler.
“I would capture guys and tell them, ‘Listen, man, I’ve been there, done that … we need supernatural help,’” he said.
The Prodigal Son who shows others how to get back home.