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Mountain Men raises authenticity questions with each new show

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

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


Submitted by NC Lawyer (not verified) on
Why even find people like Useless? Just hire actors. Let me get this straight: his misfire actually fired and knocked a perfectly clean bone chip out of the body of the deer, but they barely saw any blood before, as they said, it dried up (?) and the deer got away. This is what ancient Cherokee did? Seems legit.

Submitted by NC Lawyer (not verified) on
Why even find people like Useless? Just hire actors. Let me get this straight: his misfire actually fired and knocked a perfectly clean bone chip out of the body of the deer, but they barely saw any blood before, as they said, it dried up (?) and the deer got away. This is what ancient Cherokee did? Seems legit.

Submitted by Jerry T (not verified) on
The reason he used the gun barrel to search through the leaves is that Timber Rattlers like to bury them selves in leaves. Would be real stupid to use your hands and get bit by a rattle snake. Learn something before calling some one else out.

Submitted by NC Lawyer (not verified) on
No one said anything about that. Besides, I'd rather get a stick and poke through leaves than getting my barrel wet and muddy and whatever else from decomposing leaves. Learn something about how metal rusts and pits before you call someone else out.

Submitted by Jerry T (not verified) on
You really just do not get it do you, the barrel of a gun is treated to prevent rust, also sticking it into leaves for a moment would not cause it to rust. The barrel has a better chance at rusting from the humidity. Again, you know not what you talk about.

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
Nobody in their right mind would use a gun barrel as a garden hoe. Most knowledgeable gun owners such as myself won't even touch the barrel with bare hands and try to only handle the stock.

Submitted by NC Lawyer (not verified) on
I have an AR 15 that I use as a potato rake. My Mossberg 500 makes for a great toilet plunger. And you haven't eaten mashed potatoes until you've scooped them up with the muzzle of a S&W J-frame. Don't you know anything?

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
I don't know anything about farming, plumbing, or cooking so I stand corrected.

Submitted by Jerry T (not verified) on
Rory you are so wrong. Most Gun Owners wont touch the barrel? Do you really think anyone would believe that?

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
Maybe if someone would have taught you proper firearm care your Red Ryder wouldn't be in such disrepair. Do what those with intellect do and research the subject before making a fool of yourself with an ignorant answer. If it would be easier I'd also suggest you simply go for a drive down a tree lined road while drinking heavily.


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