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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
Pretty nice garmin 296 colored moving map! WTF is wrong with history and discovery channels? Their shows are stupid, just as TLC, is no longer the learning channel! I'm in AK, in aviation, hunt and trap... you check your traps morning and night, at least once a day. Martins will chew their feet off, and the POS tundra 1& tundra ii snow machines I'd be scared to leave the yard in those conditions. 3 months of winter, snow sure didn't stack to deep around the cabin. Also when it's below zero the moisture in ones breath is seen on every exhale!!!!! So many errors, and caulking this up to another program to not watch, just like "The Haul Raod Truckers"!!! Oh I mean Ice Road Truckers! Discovery... your head is not seeing daylight it's so far up your backside!

Submitted by Rifle Dude (not verified) on
The whole deal with the rifle sighting-in and the Hippie dude's handling of it left me laughing. This show is sooo obviously staged, up-drama-ed, with little or no informative value. It's INFOTAINMENT, folks, hardly better than watching those 30-min juiceman adverts or that ol crank Teeter selling his inversion exercise tool. I got the feeling the producer is at fault here, the way the sighting-in issue is portrayed. The hippie calling it a misfire is obviously in err. But the way the producer and crew CHOOSE to play out the drama via the editing.....just makes the whole scene laffable and just....sad. And completely uninformative. It's as if the entire 'gun' issue gave the liberal, probably NY or Hollywood-based producer the heebie-jeebies, and so they turned it into a drama-filled (YOU ONLY GET 4 BULLETS!). They CHOOSE not to explain that sighting-in only required some MOA adjustments to the windage and elevation turrets. And they CHOOSE not to explain that yes, 4 bullets is sufficient to do the job. 3 to determine grouping and center of offset, then make corrections to turrets, then one to confirm corrections. The whole scene is delivered as some sort of 'secret knowledge' that the HIppie has, and apparently didn't impart to the younger guy. And to call it a misfire when the Hippie doesnt score a kill shot is just.....bizarre. This kind of scene and show is what you get when liberal-biased non-gun owning jewish media try to meld documentary of lifestyles THEY HAVE NO UNDERSTANDING OF AND ACTIVELY LOOK DOWN UPON , with modern reality-based entertainment. Keep in mind I'm talking about the behind the scenes producers of these shows, who do all the final approval of the editing of the raw footage before it airs etc... NOT the guys doing the filming, crawling around with the show subjects in the dirt, cold, etc...

Submitted by Know-It-All Hater (not verified) on
That a bunch of pretty boys sitting on their couches would pretend to have expert knowledge of living off the land in remote mountains.....and then judge and cast stones on top of it. LOL! You guys are pathetic wusses. There, I've gone and said it. Let me guess, you're gonna beat me up with your fly swatter!

Submitted by Coyotejoe (not verified) on
Up to now all comments have been accurate and to the point. It hardly takes a "know-it-all" to spot the obvious flaws in this production. if you can't see them yourself then you are clearly a know-nothing and in no position to be casting your own stones at people who do know what they are talking about.

Submitted by Know-It-All Hater (not verified) on
QUITCHUR BEECHIN ! Our ears are bleeding..... You're worse than 100 females! Let me guess....Male menstruation?????

Submitted by Jay C. White Cloud (not verified) on
Well stated Sir. I believe this show really needs an overhaul, and at least hire background people to vet the topics that are being depicted as alleged facts; facts that are a far from reality as one could possibly get.

Submitted by Btylerr (not verified) on
I couldn't have put it better myself. I truly envy Eustace, Tom and Marty and their way of life. None of these naysayers could do half of what these guys do.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
The gun that was sighted in was a synthetic stock.... The gun that was used was wood

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Anyone else catch that Turtle Island took their 5 Gallon buckets of human waste, and dumped it all into the woods, or did I miss-see it? If they did, you cannot collect human waste, especially an operating "business," and dump it into the woods. Exactly how many people's waste are they collecting? I mean really, 30-40 people? I think there are some major questions on the way that place operates. Where in relation to their "waste dumping" do they get their water? All he did was tell the "intern" to dump the buckets, I didnt hear him say where. Theyre in a valley, all water goes down to the lowest point, are they contaminating their drinking water? Dont you have to have kitchen inspections if youre charging and serving the public meals? Why do they not actually dig a true outhouse instead of crapping in plastic buckets? Outhouses are authentic. Maybe its just the TV show excluding a bunch of things, I dunno, but color me skeptical on their authenticity. Again, maybe the TV is just excluding some stuff, I dunno. Their site seems to show things much differently, like excluding the "Junkyard" looking area along the drive, I dont know what to believe.


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