Mountain Men raises authenticity questions with each new show

As the History Channel reality series Mountain Men goes forward, more questions arise regarding reality vs. television.

The depiction of the History Channel’s Mountain Men becomes more suspect the more one searches for information on the reality television show.

Turtle Island Preserve was founded by Mountain Men cast member Eustace Conway. He does seem to be the “real deal” as far as loving and living on the land is concerned. Visitors to the Turtle Island Preserve website are greeted thusly:

“We live, teach, breathe and believe in nature's governing truths. We interact with the beautiful clarifying teachings of nature as we interpret it's story. We are more about doing it than talking about it. We invite you to visit us and experience all that is Turtle Island!"

There are many programs available on Turtle Island Preserve, from camping to spoon carving to tree-house building. According to the website, “The programs at Turtle Island Preserve are powerful and effective. We dig deep reaching profound connections within us, touching our ancestral roots. ‘SIMPLY REAL’, we touch the sources of life directly, unshielded from nature's truths. Intimate and personal, we experience relationship building with the foundational essence of our existence.”

But, these programs are pretty pricey. The spoon-carving class comes in at $95; tree-house building $250; 5-day adult camp $650; and if you want a meal on-site during an activity that does not include one already, you’ll plunk down another $15. Plus, if you see Turtle Island Preserve as suggested on the website—“The easiest way to see Turtle Island Preserve is to schedule your own personal Horse Drawn Carriage Ride with Eustace! This is great for those people who want to come to Turtle Island but just can't wait for the next Open House!”—you’ll pay $75 for one person, $65 for two or more people for an up-to-two-hour ride.

Making a Living on Mountain Men

There is nothing, of course, wrong with charging for services. Everyone has to make a living, after all—nothing wrong with making an honest living. But, Mountain Men recently insinuated that Conway’s ability to make actual cash was extremely limited, and depicted him frantically chopping firewood in an attempt to make enough money to pay his property taxes. Plus, the History Channel is not particularly open about others on the Turtle Island Property with Conway. “Interns come to Eustace to learn the old ways of living with nature in a self-sustaining society,” says Conway’s bio on the History Channel website, with no reference to the money-making programs available. And, on the show itself, statements are made such as the one last night, “Eustace calls his land ‘Turtle Island.’ The 1,000-acre plot requires a great deal of upkeep. So, he trades room and board for maintaining it.” One can assume that this refers to the internships on the property, since Justin, featured on the program, is listed as an intern by the History Channel. But, The fact that they have these other money-making programs in place is avoided in discussions about the upkeep of the property, and statements such as this one insinuate to the viewer that all activities on the property are not money-making but bartered as a way for Turtle Island Preserve to continue to function.

It is possible, of course, that not a lot of people are signing up for the classes on Turtle Island Preserve, and that there isn’t a lot of income from the programs offered. But, if that is the case, why not be upfront and address it? But, as one Huliq reader commented recently:

Why is Eustace not paying his taxes, It's not like he is not making any money. Look up Turtle Island Preserve and see all the camps he has and what he charges. $95 for a spoon carving class. The show makes it seem like he has no income except for cutting down trees and selling it for firewood.

The longer this show goes on, the more staged it appears—not a good sign for the longevity of Mountain Men.

Oh, and by the way: Last night, Eustace kept saying his gun "misfired." Clearly, it did not. When a gun "misfires," there is no discharge; "misfiring" does not mean that a gun's sights are off, which is the way he appeared to be using it. Makes one wonder, in fact, whether or not Eustace Conway is the "real deal" after all.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Will Eustace keep his land in Season Two?
Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Comments

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I caught the same thing about the misfire. How can someone that is supposed to know so much about the outdoors miss a standing deer 40 yards away. Also, the guy in alaska seems authentic but why would he ever leave the house on the snowmobile without a rifle. i can't see how this show can last because I was disgusted because I was catching one thing after another that seemed staged.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Many of us in rural Alaska travel in the winter with no rifle. Almost all bears are in the hole by this time and wolves can hardly be viewed as a threat. Marty is clearly the real deal. The other participants on the show detract from everyone's credibility

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I believe they are all real, but we all know that TV likes to make drama out of everything. The real scary thing is people believe it and recite the show's as they are 100% valid! I would like to mention a couple of things(mistakes i've seen both Marty and Tom did.Both had to do with trapping. 1st is the show where they are showing Marty checking his trap sets and disbursing his scent all over the area by either blowing snow with his mouth, or wiping snow off with his hand of his trap set's. I did a lot of trapping up until I moved to AZ and am now a Mechanical Engineer. one of the main things to pay attention to is not to leave any scent. he should be checking the set's from a distance and wiping any snow off the traps with a pine branch brush, that has not been man handled! I would expect an armature trapper to know this, as it is a main ingredient of success. The second is with Tom when he trapped the two beavers. The first thing you do when you remove a beaver from the trap is to wipe it with the dry snow to dry the hair which will freeze and then break if you do not. If this is truly the way they support themselves, I hope they read this and learn from it, but I'm pretty sure it is not.

Submitted by LJP (not verified) on
Question: Does Tom EVER let mama leave home? He went off to the trade show with his home-made crafts to make money and left the pup and her at home alone. Doesn't she spend enough time alone in the house while he's out in the forest doing his "mountain-man thing"? Does she get out to go to church or have a "girl's day out"? What a lonley life for Mrs. Tom (or so the show makes it appear). Why can't SHE go out and track with dad and the pup or get out to the town diner once in a while and not have to cook a meal or eat alone. It really appears as if this woman has NO LIFE. Same thing holds true for Marty. He chooses to leave home for lengthy periods of time away from his daughter and wife. If he were to be on his deathbed and told that to live he must choose a life with them or in the wilderness without them which lifestyle would he choose? Food for thought. Why have a family, companion if you choose to spend more time AWAY than WITH him, her, them? Oh, and I don not buy the theory that they MUST have meat to survive. Marty has to get "mountain goat" meat in the highest reaches of the Alaskan mountains to survive or die of starvation? It is his choice to live and risk his life getting what he WANTS. Obviously, his wife and child take a back seat to his selfish WANTS. My opinion.

Submitted by Ben S. (not verified) on
Good point about the mountain sheep. According to the show he flew that plane 800 miles round trip to get that sheep. I don't know the exact price of airplane fuel in Alaska, but that must be some of the most expensive meat on the planet! Not to mention the upkeep and insurance on the plane. If he needs so much protein to survive he might do better fishing, or buying a bag of beans at the local grocery store.

Submitted by LJP (not verified) on
Question: Does Tom EVER let mama leave home? He went off to the trade show with his home-made crafts to make money and left the pup and her at home alone. Doesn't she spend enough time alone in the house while he's out in the forest doing his "mountain-man thing"? Does she get out to go to church or have a "girl's day out"? What a lonley life for Mrs. Tom (or so the show makes it appear). Why can't SHE go out and track with dad and the pup or get out to the town diner once in a while and not have to cook a meal or eat alone. It really appears as if this woman has NO LIFE. Same thing holds true for Marty. He chooses to leave home for lengthy periods of time away from his daughter and wife. If he were to be on his deathbed and told that to live he must choose a life with them or in the wilderness without them which lifestyle would he choose? Food for thought. Why have a family, companion if you choose to spend more time AWAY than WITH him, her, them? Oh, and I don not buy the theory that they MUST have meat to survive. Marty has to get "mountain goat" meat in the highest reaches of the Alaskan mountains to survive or die of starvation? It is his choice to live and risk his life getting what he WANTS. Obviously, his wife and child take a back seat to his selfish WANTS. My opinion.

Submitted by erik (not verified) on
it was kind of hokey when tom was in all that danger of freezing to death that day when the truck wouldn't start and he thankfully got a fire lit just in time while his partner walked through all those scary freezing woods filled with waking bears. c'mon there was a huge camera crew and accompanying trailers sitting right out of camera range - like they're going to let these guys get into any kind of danger to make the show appear more 'real'. why not just admit that it was a good thing there was a camera crew there, etc etc and be actually real instead of this bs version or reality.

Submitted by Ben S. (not verified) on
/Did you see that look Tom's buddy gave the camera man when they discovered the battery was dead? Almost like "did you do this?" It does seem the most likely scenario.

Submitted by chas1d (not verified) on
if marty is the real deal,why didnt he ride back with the camera man? was he too,on foot-and can eustice while tracking that deer after a " mis-fire" learn from sniffing and tasting a bone chip? and then,like all time honored indian trackers,use his gun barrel to search thru leaves and debris? how stupid do these phoney producers think we are? i will only watch to point out the idiotic stories to the less fortunates that believe it. in fact, i have more than enough evidence with out having to "mis-fire"

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