The untold truth of Mountain Men

Even if producers at the History Channel knew they'd struck gold when they cast the stars of Mountain Men, they couldn't have predicted just how rich a vein they'd hit. Here are just a few tidbits of trivia about the toughest guys in the world that never made it to television screens.

Eustace Conway's school beef

Inspired by Henry David Thoreau, Eustace Conway ran his North Carolina-based nature school on his own property for over two decades without incident. But in February 2012, county officials claimed they discovered some safety violations and shut it all down. Conway and his staff were shocked at the county's sudden crackdown, since he said that the county's previous inspections hadn't ever found any problems. He and his staff didn't see how they could comply with the new demands. Conway thought he'd been wronged, and took his fight to the courts. Fortunately, the state stepped in and passed a law providing an exemption for his school in 2013.

Not very neighborly

About ten months into Conway's dispute with the county, he got into a fight with his neighbor, Margaret A. Palms. She told The High Country Press that they were once good friends, until Conway disputed the property line they'd shared for years. The argument reached a head in December 2012. Palms told the Press:

"He went and tied our gate shut, so we couldn't get out and he put posters all over our gates, mailboxes, fences. Then he put big wooden barriers, so we couldn't get out. He just kind of went nuts."


But Conway got another good break. In May of the following year, The High Country Press reported that the charges had been dismissed.

Tom Oar's one-day audition

People who live off the land are unfairly stereotyped as being crazy, but it's true that some who decide to go off the grid are gifted with more of that special something that makes for great reality TV. Take Tom Oar, for example: on the recommendation of Oar's neighbor, Mountain Men followed him around for a day before they decided he had to be on television. Of course, they probably didn't take into account some of the things they might have to endure, like follow him on a three-day hunting expedition while carrying 25 pounds of camera equipment. If anyone was crazy in this situation, it might have been the crew.

Oar's business boom

Unlike some reality-television personalities, Tom Oar has adjusted pretty well to his newfound fame. Selling moccasins, custom knives, and other wilderness goodies, Mountain Men's Oar  cleans up, as viewers have started clamoring for his goods. If you're interested in buying some of it, however, we have bad news: Oar doesn't have an internet presence, which means you have to get your butt to Yaak, Montana, if you want some genuine merchandise. If he's not sold out, that is.

The show exaggerates

Though it's brought him fame and a healthy income, Oar does have some problems with his show. His main qualm? Producers "always have to make [his day-to-day life] seem more dangerous" than it actually is. For Oar, seeing a grizzly in his yard or encountering wolves is normal, but crews have to up the ante because, as he put it, "I'm too boring otherwise." Let's just hope they never decide he needs to come between a mother bear and one of her cubs.

Charlie Tucker's house was a local attraction

Before Mountain Men started, Charlie Tucker was already a local celebrity in the North Maine woods. Not only did everyone in town know about the guy who built a cabin with his own hands, his house was one of two stops on a day-long tour. After taking the tour themselves, producers saw in Tucker a "willpower and stubbornness" that told them he had to be on their show. That's before he went all Hollywood, of course.

Protector of the people

Years before he gained fame on Mountain Men, Rich Lewis was already hailed as a hero in Montana for his reputation for mountain-lion fighting. In 2007, a mountain lion ran amok in Twin Bridges, Montana, killing two dogs. Had it been left alone, there's no telling what it would have done next; fortunately, the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks reached an agreement with Lewis and set him loose on the cougar. He took it out before it could harm any other animals—or worse, someone's child.

Rich Lewis's dog delivery

In season four of Mountain Men, Lewis lost his best friend, his dog Brandy. Bill Lane, Dan Turner, and Lucas Sims, all fans of the show, knew they needed to do something, so they brought him a new canine companion. To make this heartfelt gesture, the trio journeyed 1,700 miles to Lewis' off-the-grid homestead.

It's good for local business

When the History Channel decided to send camera crews to follow Lewis and Oar through remote areas of Montana, they probably didn't anticipate the good it would do. Rather than send their own crews out into the wild, producers hired the local Warm Springs production crew to film the wilderness buffs. By 2013, the company employed roughly 70 people and needed to move into a larger facility. In addition, Mountain Men led to other gigs, like filming for the Travel Channel's Making Monsters.

George Michaud is a conservationist

While many might see hunters and trappers like George Michaud as people who run rabid on animals and the environment, they actually do their best to maintain them. Whatever Michaud catches, he uses every single bit of it. He's even gone so far as to use roadkill. In addition, he sees trapping as a way to preserve animal populations. When beaver trapping was halted in Trail Creek, the beaver population actually dipped, not because of overtrapping, but because, as Michaud put it, "the beaver ate themselves out of house and home."

Marty Meierotto: life saver

Because of the public's fascination with these rugged outdoorsmen, newspapers and magazines have taken it upon themselves to find out more about them. This isn't always a good idea. Field & Stream sent Bill Heavey to spend some time with Marty Meierotto, and as Heavey followed Meierotto around during an Alaskan winter for three days, he quickly discovered he was out of his element. At one point, Heavey tried to make it back to Marty's cabin on his own, and got lost. Luckily, Meierotto knows what he's doing, and was able to save the reporter from becoming a popsicle.

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