'Swamp People' Star Arrested for Hitting a Cop

10/3/2011 5:56 PM PDT

Nicholas Payne 'Swamp People' Star -- Arrested for Hitting a Cop

One of the gator hunters on the History Channel reality show "Swamp People" is rotting away in a Louisiana jail cell ... after cops say he attacked a police officer last month.

TMZ has learned Nicholas Payne -- who served as apprentice to overall-wearing, American flag bandana sporting bad ass Bruce Mitchell -- was arrested on Sept. 23.

According to the police report, cops in St. Tammany Parish, Looooosiana got a call about a "disturbance" at a private home ... and when they got to the scene, Payne committed a battery on one of the responding officers with his "hands/fist/feet."

26-year-old Payne was arrested for disturbing the peace, resisting arrest and felony battery of a police officer. Payne's bail was set at $10,000 -- but he hasn't forked over the cash yet ... so he's still locked up.

A rep for History tells us, "Nicholas has not been part of the show since filming concluded last season ... and we have no additional comment."

Payne is due in court next month.