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Producer Chris Richardson Discusses The Major Obstacle That Narrowed Down The Cast Of Mountain Men

History Channel's long-running "Mountain Men" series depicts life off the grid in all of its glory, but it also doesn't shy away from presenting the hardships that come with such an isolated lifestyle. Of course, just like in the case of most other reality shows, "Mountain Men" frequently stages some of the most dangerous moments to increase the entertainment value of the series. However, while some of the stories in "Mountain Men" episodes may have been exaggerated, the series' creators have always been adamant about choosing individuals who have truly chosen to pursue this way of life and who had experience living off the land even before the History Channel hit was conceived. 

As one might imagine, the casting process for a show like "Mountain Men" isn't exactly a walk in the park. Aside from the obvious difficulty stemming from the fact that there aren't too many people out there who have willingly abandoned the comforts of modernity, there were other obstacles that radically limited the number of available candidates. 

Criminal background checks were a significant roadblock

Many people who live in the wilderness were forced to get off the grid due to varying circumstances. This includes criminal convictions that make it difficult for individuals to re-enter society and live a comfortable life. One of the main casting requirements on "Mountain Men" was that the prospective reality TV stars have no criminal record. Chris Richardson, the executive producer of the show, considered this to be one of the biggest obstacles when looking for candidates. "That's thrown a few out right there," he said in an interview with Men's Journal. Richardson specified that the men they look for to cast in the show need to be the real deal, people who live and breathe self-sustainability and adventure. 

In the same interview, Mark Pierce, a co-creator of "Mountain Men," went on to explain that finding the right people was usually the easiest when his crew went out into the field and investigated local communities. "We've found some of our best characters with boots on the ground — just going where you might expect someone living off the grid and asking local game wardens and townspeople ... We want guys who live at the end of the road, or beyond the road." 

Seeing as the show is already past the 10-season mark and is still going strong, it is safe to say that all the hard work put into finding characters for "Mountain Men" has paid off. The series established itself as History Channel's top-rated program, pulling in nearly 1,000,000 viewers per episode (via US TVDB). Some of its stars, such as Morgan Beasley, left the show to start their own businesses that promote nature-oriented lifestyles and allow tourists to see what life off the grid is really like (via Apricity Alaska).