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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 Rory (not verified) on
My original reply was removed so in comparison the latest was very nice.

Submitted by jerry thompson (not verified) on
wow wishing death upon somebody. Thanks for clarifying your maturity. Now I know you and your buddy jay are full of it. Northern one of you is older then 20. Couple of punks from what I can tell.

Submitted by Jay C. White Cloud (not verified) on
Though perhaps crass or harsh at times, most of Rory's comments are apposite and poignant. You on the other hand have been rude from the beginning, why? I have never treated you with any less respect than you have me, and have already owned the error of that way, so why continue to be so incredibly uncivil. If anyone is acting like a "punk," you really should re-read your comments. By the way, young man, I happen to be 52 years of age, so I may be a lot of things, but a "punk," is not one of them.

Submitted by Jerry T (not verified) on
No you agreeing with that little punk Rory when he wishes death upon some one, makes you a punk as well. By the way, i am in my 40's and i to served, but you dont see me bragging about it on the internet.

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
You are too bragging about it and have been since the beginning, citing your "military training" for your expertise in firearm care. People like you are why the military needs to raise its standards but then again Forrest Gump may not have been able to pass an intelligence test but he'd be a better soldier than you in comparison.

Submitted by Jerry T (not verified) on
What ever you say little boy. You just hold on to that thought that you matter.

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
And you keep holding onto your groin as you reply to my every post, at least until the librarian catches you and throws you out.

Submitted by Jay C. White Cloud (not verified) on
First let me thank Mechele for continuing to tolerate this diatribe as it continues. I know at this point my Don Quixote complex is most certainly showing, (or dog with bone, take your pick?) Any body, that knows me well, understand I have a hard time letting any type of misinterpretation, falsehood, or injustices go; often a positive character trait to have; (sometimes not so much.) When having a debate or conversation via the Internet, one is force to take one’s counter part in a discussion as speaking the truth as they know it about the subject and themselves. I guess that is why I have never chosen to use pseudonyms, (i.e. pen names,) I want to be viewed as being as straightforward and honest as I possibly can about myself and the subject I am addressing. So Jerry, let’s start all over, shall we. I have gone back and reread our discourse to make sure I am not out of bonds on any point. I will disregard the times you have been rude toward me, as I would like you to dismiss any indiscretion you may have perceived on my account. As far as you are concerned, within the context of this forum’s thread, I will no longer comment on what anybody else remarks about or to you, I will only speak to what you state as your perspective on a topic. That seems fare, o.k? Between you and I, because of the angst that has developed, we will only deal with facts as they pertain to the show in question, (this would better serve the readers at large, and Mechele as moderator.) Understand, I am being as straightforward, sincere, and neutral as possible, so please clarify the following and correct me if I have misread your position on these points: It is standard weapon etiquette to touch the metal of a weapon and not worry about it until the next cleaning. Skin acid is not an issue for most gunmetal. Using your weapon for other purposes than shooting is appropriate weapon etiquette. Rattlesnakes live and hide in leaves, as a common practice, and one should avoid bare skin contact with heavy leaf litter for this reason. Please do respond to this five positions you have taken, for they truly are the heart of the discussion between us. Sincerely, Jay

Submitted by jerry thompson (not verified) on
You are in fact misreading what I have said. Not once did I ever say you do not have to clean a weapon, you only assume I said that. Any one who shoots know you clean you weapon right afterwards. Also, rifle barrels are not bare metal. Many now assuage are being made from stainless stock, invade you didn't know, stainless is treated to fight rust. As far as using you weapon for other purposes, I have seen it done by professional hunters for years. I trust them far more then you. But hey if you wanna reach down and grab an animal without checking to insure It's dead go ahead. But hey I guess I am not supposed to use my arrow in that fashion either. And rattle snakes do hide in leaves, dealt with them for many of years.

Submitted by Jay C. White Cloud (not verified) on
Thank you, for the topic response. I again reread what you have said each time, including this response, so if you would please, continue with this discourse, I think other readers would benefit. I do know and acknowledge that what you have said about cleaning weapons. I never intended to imply that you did not think you should clean a weapon, sorry if it came across that way Jerry. However, I would really be please if you could simple address what I have been asking, with each of these exchanges, for the record: agree or disagree, (you can choose to validate your position, or not.) “IT IS STANDARD WEAPON ETIQUETTE TO TOUCH THE METAL OF A WEAPON AND NOT WORRY ABOUT IT UNTIL THE NEXT CLEANING.” I am well aware of the different treatment modalities that weapon manufactures are choosing to use, as well as, the different alloys being employed in there manufacture, (i.e. stainless, chrome-moly, etc.) I think we both agree that these are methods used to retard corrosion, (not arrest it.) Nevertheless, this does not change weapon etiquette, as I was taught and understand it. I to have seen hundreds, (perhaps thousands at this point,) of hunters, including those deemed professional, do things with their weapon that is neither good practice nor proper weapon etiquette. I myself, in the beginning of my professional career, had many habits that I am glade I no longer embrace. Now your statement: “But hey if you wanna reach down and grab an animal without checking to insure It's dead go ahead. But hey I guess I am not supposed to use my arrow in that fashion either.” This sounded a little “cheeky,” but we should let that slide and just address what I think you are stating. Yes a game animal of any size should be safely checked before touching it, that we both agree on. The method is another matter. Having taught big game tracking, hunting, and processing, you never use your weapon, (or any other object that would require you to approach the animal within it’s striking distance, particularly any of the large game feline, ungulates or ursid.) Yes you see it done, sometimes by professionals, that does not always make it wise; those that do often have horrific stories of when things go awry. The proper method is to get a clear visual line on the animal; chose an escape vector; (more than one if possible;) and toss some simple object, (small rock, stick, anything with some limited mass,) at the animal, and be prepared for a potential response. If none, approach with caution for a closer inspection, always aware of the animal and your escape vectors, then perhaps poke it with a long object of some type. I think, perhaps, where your idea of using the gun came from, and it is a fare assessment, but a misinterpretation of the method, would be the following. With really large or dangerous game animals, after the method described above is used, you approach the animal from a safe angle, again aware of your vectors, and, with a round-chambered place and discharge at the same time into the basal area of the skull. The point I was trying to make about rattlesnakes, (or any of the crotalids for that matter,) is that leaf litter for most species is a transient habitat. Most of the time, being exotherms, they normally seek objects with mass that can hold and maintain heat. I watch for them around objects of mass, this is where they hide most of the time.


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