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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

Comments

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
I found this site while searching madly for a forum to make sure I wasn't the only viewer with more than an ounce of intellect so if you find another please let me know.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I won't watch this program anymore. It doesn't tell the whole truth. I just watched an episode where Eustace is telling us that the neighbor is cutting down all the trees and raping the ground. The tree stumps were cut several years before. I'm really tired of these things being put out there to inform us and people don't have a way to challenge the authenticity. It leaves us looking really stupid if we accept these ridiculous programs. The roof on one of his buildings needed a roof before the rains, that roof had to be 100 years or better and should have been replaced in the spring if at all!

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
Eustace needs to mind his own business. He claims his land is being taken away over his failure to pay taxes (a claim that has come into question) so what business is it of his what tax paying citizens legally do with their own property? I have neighbors similar to him in that they are tree hugging hippies that insist everyone be just like them. They had complained of the noise made by the kids' dirt bikes on my property. That prompted me to build a complete motocross track right on the property line and a gun range exactly 500' from their house, which is the legal minimum. The more they complain the more people I give permission to use the facilities. Now every time they have a quiet backyard gathering I'm forced to drop what I'm doing and organize an impromptu race or shooting competition. Eustace should be glad his neighbors aren't like mine, or me, or something.

Submitted by GVN (not verified) on
Apparently History Channel has dropped the ball on simple research. Boone may have a population of 14,000 but there is also Appalachian State University which adds 17,000 on top of that. How can you miss something like that? In fact the overhead picture they showed was mostly App's campus. Also, why in the world would you ride a horse into a busy town? Like I said, Boone is a college town, now you tell me how smart it is to ride a horse down a four lane highway with college kids galore on it. And according to people who have worked at Eustace's place he has neighbors who have these things called cars. If they're actually neighborly I'm sure they wouldn't have a problem driving him into town even if it is because he doesn't pay taxes and finds it cruel when he gets caught.

Submitted by Lee (not verified) on
I have been to Turtle Island and my son spent a few weeks at one of their camps. He teaches about getting back to nature and not being such a disposable society. While he chrges for camps and appearances, the money goes into the activities, supplies and summer staff for the camps and to upkeep on the land. I agree I find it hard to believe that he is 85,000 behind on taxes and surprised they are taking aaction against him. If he paid yearly, he wouldn't have the legal espenses. He is no dummy. He is a highly educated person. He just believes in living a different lifestyle than most in todays society. My son thoroughly enjoyed his time and learned a lot. They truly lived like Little House times. I think unless you know the situation, you should not be speaking about it as if you do.

Submitted by Lee (not verified) on
I have been to Turtle Island and my son spent a few weeks at one of their camps. He teaches about getting back to nature and not being such a disposable society. While he chrges for camps and appearances, the money goes into the activities, supplies and summer staff for the camps and to upkeep on the land. I agree I find it hard to believe that he is 85,000 behind on taxes and surprised they are taking aaction against him. If he paid yearly, he wouldn't have the legal espenses. He is no dummy. He is a highly educated person. He just believes in living a different lifestyle than most in todays society. My son thoroughly enjoyed his time and learned a lot. They truly lived like Little House times. I think unless you know the situation, you should not be speaking about it as if you do.

Submitted by GVN (not verified) on
So highly educated he doesn't know how to pay taxes or to know you never let someone else sight your rifle?

Submitted by NC Lawyer (not verified) on
I spent time with my daughter. When can I catch this episode?

Submitted by GVN (not verified) on
Watauga county has the Appalcart, a public transportation system. To ride the bus is free and they have stops all over town. He is riding a road I travel all the time and the road he turned down because of the big red truck was right in front of the hospital. Guess what??? There is a nice bus stop there, the idiot could have just hitched a ride to the hospital if he had a brain in his head and caught the bus. It would have also kept him from going past that "huge" brush fire. (I say that with as much sarcasm as I can.)

Submitted by wv hillbilly (not verified) on
From day one I thought that doesn't look like North Carolina. So tonight Eustace' buddy said something about slipping over the hillside in Watauga County. Guess what? Watauga county is in tennessee in the smokey mountains. Why is history channel lying to us?

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