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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 Anonymous (not verified) on
So, you are obviously a vegetarian. There are many of us, who love the taste of meat!! Get over it!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
The interesting thing about meat haters is that they seem to have a desparate need for recognition. I have never seen a meat hater that looked capable of putting in a hard day of physical labor. Have you noticed that they almost always have a whiney, unhappy tone? I too would be unhappy without meat.

Submitted by Lee (not verified) on
Eustace grows his own food. It might be easier to hunt than try to grow protein rich vegetables.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Well its common sense, the guy in Ak has a large sprawling country estate,owns a bush plane thousands of dollars in hunting equipment, yet they show him pillaging around for a few thousand dollars none of this adds up? Eustace is a highly educated individual , if he was dirt poor how did he acquire a 1000 acre estate? Also recent episodes show this dramatic scheme with Eustace riding into town on his horse when ,previous episodes clearly show him driving around in his pickup? This guy does not have $85,000 to pay his property taxes? As if history channel will not compensate him 100's thousands for this show? Come on guys feed us some real stories we realize you need to create drama but keep it somewhat true,

Submitted by Quad (not verified) on
Exactly. How much are these guys getting paid for the show? Marty and Tom have homes MUCH nicer than mine and I work for a living! Man, I'd love to have a house like either of theirs! And, how much did Marty's plane cost? And, his computer and the other modern conveniences in his house? Take a look at Tom's house sometime...THAT wasn't built with rodeo money! And, yes, Eustace charges money for people to come to Turtle Island and take classes or participate in summer camps. WHY doesn't he have the money to pay his taxes? Also, his father is a mechanical engineer, for crying out loud! This show is phony and I hope it doesn't come back on TV.

Submitted by dry1 (not verified) on
If Justin was there to learn the "teachings of nature", why didn't Eustace teach him how to sight in the rifle? It's actually very easy to sight in the rifle with "only" 4 rounds...and I doubt Eustace found a peice of bone from the deer he shot at, especially w/ no blood on it. As far as Marty walking back to his snowmobile in half the time he walked out the night before (carrying a 70 lb engine)--what a crock. I guess their "reality" is a lot different than everybody elses.

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
You'll notice that when Marty walked out of the woods he was wearing snow shoes which would really slow one down when traveling on a hard packed snowmobile trail. The next day he headed out without snowshoes so maybe that's why he made it faster.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
You never ever let someone else sight in your rifle! As for misfire, not quite sure what he is talking about. Maybe he left it in the leaky shed with the wet chainsaws.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
What a horrible train wreck of a show. It is a real disgrace and the title of the show should be changed to something a little more appropriate such as: The Useless, The Retired and The Strange. Perhaps they should team up with those gold rush guys or maybe bring in some real house wives to help out with the drama and turtle shit on the island.

Submitted by Rusty (not verified) on
This is just what it is, TV. "Misfire" is just what it is too.


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