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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 Jay C. White Cloud (not verified) on
Can't really speak to that friend, with absolute certainty. The range of many species are currently in flux. I know that I would find them at Fort Bragg while I was there on joint operations and I imagine the Lake Norman would be the fringe of their range, so it is very possible. Lake Norman is North of Charlotte if I remember.

Submitted by NC Lawyer (not verified) on
I thought my mother said her neighbor's dog was bitten by a Water Mocassin by Lake Norman (yes, it is about 30 miles north of Charlotte). It was not.

Submitted by NC Lawyer (not verified) on
I thought my mother said her neighbor's dog was bitten by a Water Mocassin by Lake Norman (yes, it is about 30 miles north of Charlotte). It was not.

Submitted by NC Lawyer (not verified) on
I thought my mother said her neighbor's dog was bitten by a Water Mocassin by Lake Norman (yes, it is about 30 miles north of Charlotte). It was not.

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
Glad to see the Chief has a sense of humor too. On an aside and speaking of Indian names, I was once given an honorary Indian name by some local tribe members. Long story, but they settled on 'Drunken Bear'. Not as cool as 'Dances With Wolves' but I appreciated it until I realized I misinterpreted them. Turns out my honorary name is 'Drunk 'n Bare'. Made a lot more sense once I figured that out too.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Hunting season foor deer is n november snakes are not out then... ever think he is just a old lazy hippy who dont wanna bend over.. ever notice all the women who lice with eustice he trades room and board for sex and pot!!!

Submitted by Joel (not verified) on
Actually, you can learn alot by sniffing and tasting bone fragments. you can tell how old the fragment is, you can tell alot with your tongue, like feeling ridges in the bone that your fingers may not pick up. How much do you really know about native american tracking methods? very little i would assume.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I commented earlier on the Mt Mn show. I did get the show on discovery which is Alaska the last Frontier mixed up with Mt men. Although the show is suyspect not as bad as Mt men. My comments about the pheasant hunting and fishing apply to the Alaska last frontier. The rest of mycomments still apply to the othr 3 subjects .

I've seen the show you're talking about; I actually like that one. Like you said, there are probably some things in it that are "suspect," but the producers don't make it into a sideshow.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Does he really need meat to survive? There are many other plant-based protein food sources available. A serious answer to the question please. I do not eat animals or animal products. Thanks


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