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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 cohobadiah (not verified) on
I think what frustrated me with this whole series is that there was very little Positive content. Show me what a mountain man does day to day. All the mundane chores, the way they make (ha) of use their tools. Show me Something that isn't one keystone cop foul up after another. Marty? How does the guy just not end it all? Tom? Hunting & trapping when he can't even keep up with the dog. We need some REAL producers and Editors to get a Real show. This was very disappointing. I watched all the showed and didn't learn a thing.

Submitted by Montana mama (not verified) on
Last night's show was the end of me watching this contrived mess. As others have mentioned, there are BIG holes in these plots. Eustace riding an untried horse into a high traffic environment and then saying he just didn't think it would be so scarey for the horse, shows either he or the producers don't know much about car drivers and horses. Anyone who does, know drivers honk their horns and passengers wave. Trucks run up on the horse and rider creating danger for everyone. Horses and cars do not mix. It takes a very well trained horse to not shy around cars. I'm pulling the plug on this show.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Ok just ran a title report found no tax lien but, also discovered Eustace resides at 602 deerwood dr ,gastonia nc Here is proof Parcel ParID 2849669856000 Tax Year 2013 SITUS Addess 830 LONNIE CARLTON RD City, State, Zip , , Unit #   Unit Description   NBHD 0804 - SOUTH ELK TOWNSHIP Class R1 - RESIDENTIAL 1 Land Use Code R00 - RESIDENTIAL VACANT Living Units   CAMA Acres 13 Zoning - Map # 2849-66-9856-000 Jan 1 Values Land Value. 3,500 Building Value 0 ================== ======== Appraisal Total 3,500 Exemptions or Exclusions     ======== Taxable Total 3,500 Owner Mailing Tax Year 2013 Sequence Number 0 Owner Number 1508252 Owner CONWAY, EUSTACE R     Mailing Address 602 DEERWOOD DR.     City, State, Zip GASTONIA NC 28051 Legal Description Township 08 - ELK City Code   Jurisdiction (Tax Code District) F05 - STEWART SIMMONS Unit Desc   Unit #   Book 412 Page 389 Legal Desc 1 T-2 Deeded Acres 13.00 Sale Date Book Page Sale Price Grantor Grantee 02-JUN-97 412 389 6,500

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
as per wataugacounty.org You can verifytax owner property information, just go to taxlink, type last name. conway then scroll a few pages you will see dozens of properties Eustace has amassed over the last 20 years parcel by parcel? Also can see all parcels are registered to his home On 602 deerwood dr,Gastonia nc which I verified via title search is owned by him and Karen Conway. He probably owns a few mansions in Mailbu,Miami,NYC Flats god knows....

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
It's sad that these reality shows have become so increasingly and obviously staged that they should be moved from History Channel and Discovery to Comedy Central. There are so many hilarious things already noted, but I nearly split my side laughing at his ride to town to deal with his tax lien. Eustace needs to travel 10 miles into town, so to save money, he spends all day (or more) blazing a trail, starting a fire to stay warm by rubbing sticks together, shoeing his horses, and then running an untempered horse along a four lane highway. To go 10 miles into town. And he has a truck that he fixed in a previous episode. How much could it cost him to drive, five bucks in gas? Is his time worth less than five bucks a day? If so I doubt he'll ever pay his taxes... This show could have been so much better if the producers didn't think their viewers were a bunch of morons. This is the mainstream media and Hollywood bunch that gave us...oh well, never mind.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
It's sad that these reality shows have become so increasingly and obviously staged that they should be moved from History Channel and Discovery to Comedy Central. There are so many hilarious things already noted, but I nearly split my side laughing at his ride to town to deal with his tax lien. Eustace needs to travel 10 miles into town, so to save money, he spends all day (or more) blazing a trail, starting a fire to stay warm by rubbing sticks together, shoeing his horses, and then running an untempered horse along a four lane highway. To go 10 miles into town. And he has a truck that he fixed in a previous episode. How much could it cost him to drive, five bucks in gas? Is his time worth less than five bucks a day? If so I doubt he'll ever pay his taxes... This show could have been so much better if the producers didn't think their viewers were a bunch of morons. This is the mainstream media and Hollywood bunch that gave us...oh well, never mind.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
l look forward to this show because it makes me laugh continually. It's the best comedy I've seen in a while. Marty is prob the only mountain man and clearly has lost his marbles somewhere along the way and if I had a dollar for every time Tom yells for Ellie....but the real cartoon character is Eustace. With all the other fake things...maybe he could at least fake a southern accent. What I really want to know though is this. Is Eustace gay? That's what I immediately thought of him and Preston. What's the story? And from reading these posts it seems like there have been a lot of young men around through the years. Makes me wonder. Anyone know? Oh and I can't go without mentioning bear spray. Tom walking around with his can of bear spray is just the funniest thing ever.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I found this episode of the turkey poacher quite staged. It certainly looked like a crew member of the show was the "poacher," and they staged the entire thing, including the poacher's great escape on his ATV. I won't be watching this show anymore. It's just not believable. Oh, and Eustace, pay your taxes like everyone else.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I found this episode of the turkey poacher quite staged. It certainly looked like a crew member of the show was the "poacher," and they staged the entire thing, including the poacher's great escape on his ATV. I won't be watching this show anymore. It's just not believable. Oh, and Eustace, pay your taxes like everyone else.

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
The claim hat Eusless decided to ride horse to town "to save gas money" was perhaps the funniest claim of the show to date. The gallon of gas it would have taken is far better than spending the day clearing a trail, another day making horseshoes (which is also ridiculous as he may have adjusted those shoes but he didn't make them from scratch), the 5-1/2 hours it's said to have taken to get there, and the reckless endangerment of his horses and other drivers in traffic. That tool should have been ticketed for impeding traffic at the least and the Humane Society should be marching up to his house with PETA in tow. As far as others suggesting that he and Preston are an item I have to agree, especially after seeing Eustace run back to kiss Preston's boo boos after he fell down. Men don't act like that. If I were Preston there's no way I'd let them show footage of me falling down and a guy in braided pigtails helping me up. I'd be hesitant of sending a Cub Scout troop there for fear that the spoon carving class would take a disturbing twist. <i>"On this episode of <b>Mounting Men</b>, Eustace demonstrates an old Cherokee splinter removal technique." <b>Eustace:</b> "Now Preston this might make you wince a little." <b>Preston:</b>"That's what you said just before I got these splinters, silly!"</b></i>

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