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The Untold Truth Of The Moonshiners

The Moonshiners, you love them, you know them. Or do you? Seeing as how their livelihoods come from an illegal activity, it stands to reason the cast's lives are shrouded in secrecy, until now. We're going beyond the cameras and empty bottles of hooch to expose the barreled secrets of the Moonshiners.

They aren't the desperadoes they claim to be

For all the hubbub surrounding their profession, the Moonshiners aren't outlaws. The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which regularly participates in the show, said so to Fox News in 2011. Virginia ABC spokeswoman Kathleen Shaw stated in a released email, "If illegal activity was actually taking place, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement would have taken action." Looks like the only thing the Moonshiners are guilty of is putting one over on the public.

They don't actually make liquor on camera

The main reason Tickle and the boys haven't been shut down is that they don't actually make liquor, while filming anyway. Though they take the camera through the steps of moonshine manufacturing and act like the cops are on their tails, they don't make any booze in front of the cameras. The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control also stated that what the show depicts is a dramatization. However, they weren't always wise to that fact. The Virginia ABC went on to tell the Associated Press that it "did not participate nor was aware of the false depiction of moonshine manufacturing. They wouldn't have investigated the gang if they knew it was all bogus from the start. Government employees don't like being fooled.

The Discovery Channel won't put up a disclaimer

The Discovery Channel's producers are in on this hoodwinking of the public. In addition to calling foul on this backwoods bamboozlement, the Virginia ABC asked that a disclaimer be added to the show. According to Fox News, this request "was overlooked," which is probably a code word for ignored. This shouldn't be a surprise, because this is the same channel whose recent dramatizations try to convince viewers that mermaids are real and that megalodons stalk the seas.

Popcorn Sutton's sequences were filmed years earlier

Moonshiners' segments featuring Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton weren't filmed by the Discovery Channel. They come from a documentary. Filmed by Neal Hutcheson in 2002, the original project spotlighting the covert bootlegger is titled This is the Last Dam Run of Likker I'll Ever Make. In 2008, PBS edited the documentary into a special titled The Last One, which actually won a Southeast Emmy Award. Hopefully Hutcheson got some nice residuals out the Discover Channel using his footage. Sutton most definitely didn't because...

Popcorn died long before the show ever started

Between the filming of This is the Last Dam Run of Likker I'll Ever Make and the premiere of Bootleggers, many things happened. In particular, Popcorn Sutton was arrested by the ATF in January 2009. Sutton was sentenced to 18 months in jail, according to the BlueRidgeNow. Because of his age and a recent cancer diagnosis, the judge let Sutton carry out his sentence via house arrest. Sutton later took his own life. Sounds like the Discovery Channel has no qualms about making money off the dead.

Tim Smith is a lifelong outlaw

Even though he doesn't make moonshine on camera, Tim Smith does know how to make it. He learned the hillbilly hooch trade as a little tyke from his father. That's when he had his first run-in with the law. Smith told Fox News in 2012, "I was about five-years-old when my dad first got raided," and went on to describe his efforts to hide the illicit alcohol from law enforcement. Ever since, Smith has been sticking it to the man with his own brand of redneck justice, or so it may seem...

He's also a sellout

In 2013, hayseed hero Tim Smith went legit. According to The Bulletin, he launched his own brand of legal moonshine, which can be bought in stores. Named Tim Smith's Climax Whiskey: The Drink of Defiance, each bottle is anything but. A traditionally outlaw drink ceases being rebellious when taxes are paid on it and its production follows government regulations. It's even less unruly when hats, shirts, and other swag are sold along with it, which Smith does. The label of Smith's hooch also bears the visage of his dog Camo, possibly the only honest face in this whole moonshine venture.

Steven Ray Tickle has political aspirations

Not making enough money off of his moonshine sales, Steven Ray Tickle is eyeing some of that sweet, sweet taxpayer money. In 2013, Tickle announced he was "considering a bid for Congress in southern Virginia," according to the Washington Examiner. His stated intention is to use some of his notoriety to make a positive change. You can probably find a list of his policies stuck on the bottom of a mason jar somewhere.

He also has a day job

When Steven Ray Tickle announced his congressional interests, it was also revealed that he works as a carpenter. By all indications, he's a pretty good one too. The Washington Examiner refers to him as a top carpenter while he was building a "Clyde's restaurant near the Verizon Center," in Washington, D.C. He's also a member of a union, so at least one of his sources of income is on the up and up, theoretically. At least he can win over voters with his blue-collar background. He's good at crafting buildings like the Discovery Channel's good at crafting the Moonshiners as actual outlaws.

Tickle's arrest record

Of course, it really shouldn't be that surprising to learn that Tickle, or any of the other Moonshiners really, has an arrest record—it'd be even more surprising if his record was clean. True to character, Tickle was arrested for public intoxication in 2013. TMZ reports that Tickle was found drinking alone in his car at a convenience store parking lot. (It probably means he wasn't drinking his own rotgut, but something name-brand. Whatever happened to company loyalty?) He was released later that day. A drunk-in-public charge probably won't hurt Tickle's governmental cravings. If anything, it'll help them, just like his other arrest.

He was caught with a sawed-off shotgun

In January 2016, Steven Ray Tickle was convicted of illegal firearm possession, according to GoDanRiver. In July 2015, Tickle was allegedly spotted with a sawed-off shotgun during a routine traffic stop. Though he had not used it for anything, being found with such a weapon is a crime in Virginia. When Tickle was pulled over, he was already in his own driveway, which is technically his property. Logistics of the law and case aside, this is definitely in Tickle's favor. He'll easily win over the NRA and other Second Amendment rights proponents. Moonshiners' illegal activities might be fabricated but Steven Ray Tickle is no stranger to Mr. John Q. Law.