Bainbridge man reunites with former mentor in the swamp

Published 3:32 pm Thursday, September 17, 2015



A call from the past gave Steve Poitevint of Bainbridge a chance to appear on the National Geographic Reality series, “Live Free or Die,” (9 p.m. Tuesdays).

Earlier this year Steve received a voice mail from National Geographic. “I ignored it, thinking they wanted to sell me a subscription, or something,” he explains. Then came a call from a voice he hadn’t heard in 28 years, but instantly recognized. It was Colbert Sturgeon, who met Steve 30 years ago. “He changed my life,” said Steve. He was a representative of IDS American Express Investment and was instrumental in getting Steve into the investment business. “He trained me in the work I now love,” said Steve.

Well, it seems that Sturgeon some time ago became tired of being caught up in the “rat race.” He was so tired of it that he decided to leave his job and big home and mortgage in Valdosta and “get back to nature.” He built himself a cabin in the swamp between Valdosta and Quitman, where he now lives off the land.


A photo published in The Post-Searchlight 30 years ago shows Colbert Sturgeon and Steve when he launched his career in financial investment planning.

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He began starring in the reality TV show last season and National Geographic was interested in examining his past life by creating a reunion with former colleagues. Enter Steve Poitevint, who agreed to go spend a couple of days and nights living in the swamp with his old pal.

Steve said their first reunion meeting was for breakfast at a Valdosta restaurant where they discussed old times and caught up with the lives of each other. Then they rode off into the swamp in an old truck.

Steve spent two long days and nights living in the swamp with Colbert, riding down the river in his canoe, eating the unusual diet of wild hog and deer, feeling the heat and fighting off swarms of mosquitoes. The whole time cameras were rolling.

Steve said filming was an interesting experience, as they began filming at 8 a.m. each morning and continued until 9 or 10 p.m., shooting and reshooting scenes as many as five times. “It was mentally and physically exhausting,” he adds. Although it was totally unscripted, they basically covered the same territory each time.

He said he also helped work on the building of a new cabin to replace the first one that burned. It is being constructed out of cypress logs from the swamp.

He described the living conditions as very primitive, with no electricity, no running water, no heat and air, and bathing in the creek. Cooking is done over a campfire or there is a propane tank to cook on the grill. He fishes, hunts and tracks wild animals, salt curing his meats.

“He’s a fun guy to be with,” according to Steve, “very smart, but different.” He took a survival course and is a professional trapper who sells skins and furs for income and lives on a budget of about $2,000 per year.

“He had the courage to go do this and he loves it. He has been doing it for about 20 years now,” explains Steve, who then adds, “I love the outdoors, but could handle it only for maybe a weekend.”

Season two of this reality show has started to air. The segment involving Steve is expected to be on Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel. Steve isn’t sure in how many scenes he will actually appear after all the editing is completed, but he concluded it was a great experience to catch up with an old colleague who had so much influence on his life.