PORT ANGELES — Defendants who jump bail and flee to remote parts of the Rocky Mountains have more than just law enforcement officers to worry about.
Bounty hunters also may be looking for them.
For the past 17 years, Port Angeles High School graduate Robert “Daddy Rat” Hoyt, 62, has been tracking down bail jumpers in Idaho and Montana at the behest of bail bond companies.
And, for the past two seasons, he has been one in a cast of four bounty hunters on the Animal Planet reality series “Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters.”
The show, which follows two teams of bounty hunters tracking bail jumpers, premiered April 13, 2014.
The 2015 season of 10 episodes has ended, Hoyt said, and Animal Planet is running reruns; it won’t be picked up next season.
But during the final season of the show, he cleared some $6,000 per month, he said Saturday.
And he and his business partner, Mike “Animal” Zook, hope to find another channel to pick it up.
Hoyt was in Port Angeles this weekend to attend the 45th reunion of the class of 1970 and stopped by the Peninsula Daily News to speak about his career as a bail enforcement agent.
He and Zook hunt down and capture absconders to return them to jail, operating through their business, LWM Security and Recovery, based in Post Falls, Idaho, where both live.
“I look at it this way: A lot of the people we chase are not criminals; they are just good people that are in a bad situation,” Hoyt said.
“And usually, those are the ones that run, which is funny.”
He and Zook have encountered three basic types.
“You have the one that has never been in the criminal system, and they miss court for some reason and they freak. They get scared,” Hoyt said.
“The thing is, because they are not criminals and they end up hiding at mom’s house, grandma’s house, the girlfriend’s house, they are easy to find.”
On the other end of the spectrum are “the guys that truly have been in the system and know they are going away for 10 years and they don’t want to go,” Hoyt said.
“Those are the ones that will fight you more than any of them, and those are the ones that are the hardest to find. The hardened criminals are the ones that just don’t care. They really don’t care.”
The third group falls somewhere in between and generally “don’t run,” Hoyt said.
But anyone can be dangerous, he said.
“It kind of depends because you may have the ones that aren’t criminals yet, and they might be scared enough to where they are not acting rationally just out of fear,” he said.
Hoyt’s family moved to Port Angeles from Arcadia, Calif., when he was 4 so that his father, a machinist, could work at Peninsula Plywood.
He grew up in a house on East 12th Street.
He isn’t married but has an 11-year relationship with a woman who has two children. Hoyt has five. All are grown now. Two of his sons and his youngest daughter want to join his business, Hoyt said.
Becoming a bounty hunter was Zook’s idea.
Hoyt, who was head of security at a nightclub in northern Idaho, hired Zook as a bouncer.
“We got to talking, and he asked me if I’d be interested because he was doing some work for one of the local companies,” Hoyt said.
“That was 17 years ago. . . . he and I worked together very well.
“Animal has a wrestling background, and I have jiujitsu background, so we have no problem grabbing somebody and going to the ground with them,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt has been shot at and stabbed once in the lower back.
“It was right underneath my vest,” he said, pointing to the old wound with his finger.
“My partner has got his tooth knocked out [and] got a thumb broke.”
“The thing is, I don’t take anything personally,” he said. “You can’t take anything personal in this business.
“I am not saying I am not motivated at times,” he added.
Hoyt, who relaxes by riding motorcycles — what he calls “wind therapy” — is the president of the Inland Northwest Chapter of the Guardians of Children motorcycle organization.
“I work with abused kids, so if I am going after somebody that has got charges against children, I don’t take it personal, but I am definitely motivated to get them — almost to the point where I hope they struggle,” he said.
But “we don’t want to hurt anybody, we really don’t,” he said.
“Our job is to put them in custody and get them to where they get in front of a judge again.
“We have to do what we have to do to get the job done. It is how we get paid.”
Hoyt has been in jail himself.
“I spent five hours in jail once,” he said. “I was a dumbass and drank exactly one too many drinks on my daughter’s birthday” when he was 54.
He was stopped for investigation of driving while intoxicated and blew a 0.11 percent blood-alcohol level in the Breathalyzer. The threshold is 0.08 percent.
“I had no idea” I’d had too much, he said. “That’s when I realized just how little it took to be impaired.”
The first time he watched himself on television, he burst into uncontrollable laughter, he said.
“I guess I look at it a little differently than some people do,” Hoyt said.
“I do a job and I have a camera guy follow me around. I get these people that will come up to me and ask me, ‘Well, what is it like being a TV star?’ I have no idea. I am not a TV star.”
Being with a camera crew takes some getting used to, and sometimes, the filming was a hindrance, he said.
“When I am walking to the house [and] know that a guy has got a record of assaulting police officers and possibly having weapons . . . and I get a camera guy between me and that front door . . . I don’t know how many times I would put my arm up and [say], ‘Get out of the way,’” Hoyt said.
Pros versus amateurs
“We are very well-trained,” Hoyt said, noting that he and Zook studied under Jeff Hall, a fellow 1970 graduate of Port Angeles High who spent two decades as an Alaska state trooper.
“There are a lot of guys who have been trained properly,” Hoyt said.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that have not been. Those are the guys that get a gun, get a badge and kick a door in.”
In Idaho and Montana, “you do not have to be licensed,” Hoyt noted.
“Anybody can pick up a warrant contract from a bail bonds company and go chase somebody.”
Hoyt hopes someday to “train bounty hunters the right way so that they do things the right way.”
“In 17 years, I have never kicked a door in. I have never shot anybody. I have Tased several people. I have definitely bean-bagged some people” with a shotgun.
“We know our job, what we need to do and how we need to do it,” he said.
“And we do it right.”
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Chris McDaniel can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Executive Editor Leah Leach contributed to this report.