With all of the hip talk about living “off the grid” that has infiltrated the speech of many so-called “preppers,” i.e. “doomsday preppers,” it is not surprising that the History Channel is introducing a new show, Mountain Men, to take a look at the reality of the "simple" life dreamed about by so many.
“Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live your life off the grid?” they ask potential viewers of this reality show. Fans are promised a look into the lives of true mountain men, who do not have the “complications of modern society.” These men, they say, truly live lives in the wilderness, and rely on nature for their sustenance.
Could you do it?
Think about it for a minute. Maybe you prefer to purchase organic-grown veggies at the grocery store or local farmers market, but could you really grow all of your own vegetables? And preserve them for use throughout the year? And, what about meat? Again, you may be organic all the way, but what if you had to not only raise that cow/chicken/turkey/pig, but kill it and clean it? Could you do it? Could you go out in the surrounding wilderness and take down deer/bear/moose/etc.? Go fishing? Could you process these creatures yourself, and, again, preserve them for use during the harsh winters of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina; seven-month winters of the Yaak River area in Montana; or absolutely frigid conditions in northern Alaska?
This is the “simple” life.
There are more challenges for these men than just finding food—mudslides, weather, and facing off with animals that may be hungrier than they are at the moment, not to mention building and maintaining their surroundings. Often, when one dreams of the “simple” life, the true weight of such living is not part of the equation. But, after all, it’s just a daydream—unless you live it, like these men do.
Meet the Mountain Men
The cast of Mountain Men are described as follows by the History Channel:
- Eustace Conway
- Marty Meierotto
- Tom Oar
Eustace says that, when he was 16, spirits told him to live off the land during a Native American ceremony. So he and a few friends bought a 1,000-acre piece of land in the Blue Ridge Mountains called Turtle Creek Preserve, of which he owns 500 acres. Interns come to Eustace to learn the old ways of living with nature in a self-sustaining society. They include Justin, a tough city boy who can be hard to handle and doesn’t like taking orders; Chloe, a college student who hopes to someday help Eustace take Turtle Island Preserve to the next level; and Jessie, who is willing to work hard but struggles to adjust to the harsher side of outdoor living.
Marty was 8 when his dad took him fur trapping for the first time. From that moment, he knew he’d be trapping for the rest of his life. At 25, with 10 bucks in his pocket, he set out for Alaska, where he’s now known as one of the top trappers in the territory. Marty lives in a cabin 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle with his wife Dominique and their daughter Noah. Working the trap line means leaving his family for weeks at a time to live in his primitive one-room log cabin 200 miles from civilization. In bone-chilling isolation just a stone’s throw from the Yukon Territories, he relies on his wits to survive nature’s deadliest obstacles. It’s heartbreaking to be away from his family, but Marty’s inner spirit is calling him to the wild—and he has to listen.
Tom was a bronco rider on the rodeo circuit for 28 years. When the work started to take a toll on his body, the long-time trapper taught himself tanning to support himself and the love of his life, Nancy. They’ve been a team for more than 40 years. Nancy worries about Tom working the trap lines every day: wolves are becoming a big problem, and he’s not a young man anymore. She’s concerned that if his health or hers should fail, they’ll be forced to give up the life they love and move to Florida with his kids. Their neighbor Will is a close friend of Tom’s from their rodeo days. He looks up to Tom, who taught him how to live the mountain man life. Now that Tom and Nancy are getting older, he helps them out from time to time.
Meet the men and their families, and learn about truly living a life “off the grid,” when Mountain Men premieres on the History Channel tonight, Thursday, May 31, at 10/9C.
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Gary Stevens