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Mountain Men: Did History Channel cameraman steal Marty's gun?

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

A blatant production error in this week's episode of the History Channel's Mountain Men demonstrates why "reality television" is still "television," after all.

Benjamin Franklin said, in a 1789 letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, "'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes;" seems that this is true even for a mountain man.

One thing—maybe the only thing—that makes it truly impossible for one to live completely “off the grid” is the fact that, even when we “own” our property, the government continues to get its piece, year after year, via property taxes. If we don’t pay those taxes, the government will eventually step in and take that property we “own.” Thus, even mountain men who live off the land have to come up with some way to bring in at least enough cash to pay those annual property taxes.

Eustace Conway went down to his mailbox on the latest episode of the History Channel’s Mountain Men to find a letter threatening to take his property if he doesn’t pay his taxes.

“What pisses me off,” Eustace says, “is crazy people focusing on foolish things like taking my land away that have no idea that the land is the most important, sacred thing in my life, period. The people that are suing me, I never even met the people, and yet they’re taking my land away? B*******.” But, Eustace isn’t taking the lien against his property passively. “What this land means to me is life. It’s about existence. This is home. I’m ready to die to take care of this mountain.”

Trapper Marty Meierotto is trapping his way through the episode, although he comes up empty-handed on the trip. If the careful viewer was paying attention, he saw a production error in the footage, as well. As Marty checked the first trap, he saw that it was empty. Clearly, he has a gun strapped to his back. As he rides up to his next trap—which, according to the voice-over, took him five minutes to reach after leaving the first trap—he notes that he sees wolf tracks around the empty trap. But, now, the gun is gone. “Marty’s been surrounded by a pack of wolves while crossing a frozen lake before,” the voice-over says. “He had to fire a shot with his rifle just to escape. This time, he’s unarmed.”

Well, if the wolves come along, maybe the cameraman will give him his gun back.

This is why “reality television” is, in fact, often more “television” than “reality.”

Will Eustace be able to cut enough firewood to sell for tax money? And, will Marty be consumed by a pack of wolves while he walks through the woods (his snowmobile broke down, as well, during the “he’s unarmed” scene), or will the cameraman have mercy and let him have his gun back to keep the pack away (and perhaps give him a ride on his own snowmobile so that he doesn’t have to walk 10 miles in the dark)?

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Will Eustace keep his land in Season Two?

Image: Wikimedia Commons


Submitted by Mountainbilly (not verified) on
The only people who own the land I live on are the American people. I bow hunt the entire month of Sept. During this time I harvest Boletes, and Chantrele's from the mountains. I pick asparagus and rubarb along the creek and grow my own tomatoes, peppers, and squash. Fresh wild strawberries are in abundance right now and I am eating the backstrap off a roadkilt elk, so give me a reality show. Keep the five minutes. IMHO

Submitted by Coyotejoe (not verified) on
I think Eustace Conway's real name is Useless Conman. He pretends to "live off the land" while in fact living off the suckers who pay good money to visit his land. To wound and waste a deer and then to blame the kid who he assigned to sight in his rifle is pathetic. The program's editing errors are legion. We see Justin shooting a '94 Winchester, then a Marlin .22, then fiddling with a Remington pump rifle, then Useless wounding a deer with a Ruger Number One, then tracking it with a pump shotgun. I guess the producers think a gun is a gun.

Submitted by kritafo (not verified) on
This is exactly what I starting calling him, he apparently has 2 University degrees, he comes across like a bumkin. Like when they road into town on horses...yup is he retarded? How did he think the horses would react...why didn't they just take the road...cause there is one to and from his property. He has to ask directions to the court house...yeah right. Like he has never been to town before spare me. Uselss is coming across like that other group of people that were dodging taxes and not paying property tax. He is nutty and careless.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
This show should really be called "3 Idiots Spread Across America". You don't give your rifle to someone else to sight in first of all, second you should at least check to make sure it actually is sighted in correctly before using it if you did do the first dumb thing, third you shouldn't shoot at something not knowing if your rifle is actually sighted in, and finally you don't get to b*tch if isn't sighted in. Idiot. You shouldn't send your German Shorthaired pointer into barely above freezing running water with grass beds in it to chase a wounded duck when the g-damned dog has apparently never made a water retrieve before in its life which makes sense since its an upland game bird dog. Idiot. Finally, you probably shouldn't rely solely on a 20 year old piece of junk snowmobile in BFE Alaska as your primary mode of transportation, particularly if it breaks down and you have a hard time walking 100 yards at a time. Idiot. 3 idiots trying to kill themselves, their dogs, or maim animals. This is the kind of show that gives legitimate hunters/outdoorsmen a bad name.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I live in Libby, Montana which is about 45 miles from Tom and Nancy Oar. My husband and I watched this show ONCE and we can't stand to see it again. The Oars aren't "over 100 miles from a store," we have a HUGE Rosauers store in our town and again are only 45 miles away. In fact, I saw Nancy filling her shopping cart last week. If they were desperate for basic supplies the Yaak Mercantile is 7 miles away, along with 2 bars (just in case they're thirsty). They aren't living off the land . . . They have a phone (number's in the book) and they have electricity. STOP with the grizzly hype! Yeah we got some griz, not a huge chance of getting mauled by one. And CERTAINLY not worth mentioning every 5 minutes during the show! Chances of being killed in a car wreck on the way to Rosauers are greater than any grizzly attack! HIGHLY DISAPPOINTED IN THIS SHOW!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Mountainbilly (not verified) on
In my years of working in Alaska's North Slope I learned how Alaskans find out who are tourist. The word grizzly bears. Yeah its a brown bear. Try to make it scary but it is still a brown bear.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
An Alaskan Brown Bear is MUCH more impressive than a Montana Griz!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Marty is for real, His cabin is in the true wildrness and there are not many people that would make it. I have been to his cabin miles of nothing.

Submitted by Ron (not verified) on
Most of these posts make me laugh. Any time TV is involved in "reality" at best 5% is actually real. I'm sure these people survive each day in a manner that is not represented in the tv show. Of course they use phones, electricity, modern guns, tools, etc. It would be foolish not to. Sure, they may use tools of old sometimes, but, it wouldn't be advised to use too often. I enjoy the show for the beautiful scenery, etc. I also enjoy the people, although, Eustace IMO is annoying. With that, I'm sure all 3 guys would make 99% of these posters cry like little girls if they had to go toe to toe with them. Enjoy the show for what it is, beautiful scenery, outdoor wonders, etc. Otherwise, all you tough guys try camping out in your backyard for a week, then get back to me.

Submitted by RK Henderson (not verified) on
Somebody had to say it. All these posts ragging on the mountain men are out of place. The subjects have no say in what gets made of their lives, and no idea what goes on the air before any of us do. I agree that the show plays to suburbanites' notions of what living in the woods is like, and that they edit it to maximise emotion. That makes it look fake, but again, that's not the subjects' fault. Somebody else here made a comment about "what they [the producers] think we want to see". _That's_ what we're seeing. So Eustace has money-making ventures; I guess he needs money as much as anyone else. The Oars have access to stores. So do I; don't make me a city boy. And Marty went out one time without his gun and his skidoo broke, and the producers gave him a lift home and then spliced that day's footage with another where he was armed and told us it was the same day. You know what? I've been ten miles from home on snowshoes at 40 below and night falling. I'd thumb a ride, too. The show could be better; the business-types that make it don't really know what I want to see; I want to these folks use their nail guns and Walmart cards and spare skidoos, just like I do. But the subjects are living it, regardless of what gets made of it. Were before the show, will be after. Let's grow up, carpers. Robin Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit


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