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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
Worthless. He's supposed to be some kind of nature guru? Whatever. He's just some hippie that doesnt want to work a real job, and has an overinflated ego. He lives within 20 minutes of 2 Walmarts. He's not going to starve if he doesnt get a deer.

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
Exactly. Then he wants to stand there and whine about the neighbors logging out their property. They have every right to log what belongs to them and if he doesn't like it then he should hold a hippie fundraiser and buy the property. The fact that each year he has to be threatened before paying his taxes proves that he's just lazy and only wants to do the absolute minimum when it comes to work. He leads us to believe that he go all 'Ruby Ridge' on anyone that tried to take his land. I think the most he'd do is live in a tree to protest while his homeless underlings exchanged food for feces in a bucket on a rope each morning. Then he'd get the sniffles, eat some bark to cure them, and hopefully pass out eventually before falling to the ground. I'd then buy his land at auction and build a dirt bike track on it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Worthless. He's supposed to be some kind of nature guru? Whatever. He's just some hippie that doesnt want to work a real job, and has an overinflated ego. He lives within 20 minutes of 2 Walmarts. He's not going to starve if he doesnt get a deer.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Worthless. He's supposed to be some kind of nature guru? Whatever. He's just some hippie that doesnt want to work a real job, and has an overinflated ego. He lives within 20 minutes of 2 Walmarts. He's not going to starve if he doesnt get a deer.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
This show sucks, the narrators voice is enough to make you want to scream. The continuity of the show is so poorly edited and written you wonder why anyone would pay these producers for this joke of a show. Your comments are dead on, watching this show is fun in the sense that one cannot wait for the next blunder.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
The bad thing is they are paying this useless wannabee hippee to do the show when there are some real mountain men out there who really have a story to tell.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
How many turds does it take to make an island? They should show "Useless" Eustace standing outside of Walmart with a tear running down his cheek. Perhaps all the troubled teens should escape from the island with there wooden spoons before it is to late. Can anyone one say season finale?What a farce!

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
I actually would expect to see him behind Walmart mining the dumpster and explaining how fortunate he is to find chicken that's only been expired for 2 days. Many years ago when I was just out of high school I took a trip on a Greyhound bus. The driver stopped at a 7-11 in the middle of the night and while most of us went in for sodas and snacks one guy ran to the back of the building. Several minutes later he goes into the store to use the microwave to heat up all the 'goodies' he found in the trash. For the next 2 hours on the bus we had to listen to this hippie preach about how wasteful stores like 7-11 are and that he salvaged $36 worth of burritos and hot dogs from the dumpster and that they taste perfectly fine and that he rarely ever pays for food. Come to think of it that guy looked A LOT like Eustace.

Submitted by GVN (not verified) on
First off, I live in Boone where Turtle Island is located. If you want to get a different perspective on Eustace look up "The Last American Man" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Look at the 3 star reviews and the first one is from a past intern. I'm sure what you'll read will show you just who he is. One thing mentioned that I've noticed is that for someone "respects the land" he sure has a lot, and I mean several, rusted out old cars and trucks on his property. Shouldn't this be something he would not want? One thing that keeps eating at me is they talk about the interns learning "the old ways". How can this involve chainsaws and other modern luxuries? My grandpa grew up just down the mountain and worked with an axe and a crosscut saw. I don't have the same complaints about Tom and Marty. Others have pointed out how things look different, like when Marty leaves without something and has it later. I do know shows like this do a lot of editing for effect. They may show what looks like a series of events when in actuality they happened on different days. Maybe they missed a shot and needed to use another one as a substitute. History Channel has gone down hill for years. I have a Masters in Public History and my professors loved to hammer the channel for a plethora of reasons. After listening to them you watch the channel for entertainment purposes only, not to actually learn something.


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