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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 NC Lawyer (not verified) on
Well, it will only take a short trip to the Watauga County Clerk of Court's office and a search of his name to tell you everything you need to know about the guy who owns 1,000 acres of mountain property and has horses and guns and slave labor but gets sued and doesn't respond. Listen to his lamentations about truth, justice and the American way. It would be funny if it weren't so disrespectful. Look, I am a bankruptcy attorney and I sue debt collectors. I'm on his side. But don't make yourself out to be Lech Walesa when you're simply a guy who got sued for a debt and you blew it off like a hillbilly gangster.

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
It would actually be a long trip for me since i live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula but I'm hoping to make my way down there next month. Do you know any good personal injury attorneys? I'd like to be prepared should his wagon fall apart while I'm heckling him during the hay ride.

Submitted by NC Lawyer (not verified) on
My law partner does that. Tell Euceless to make sure he doesn't flop off the side like he did that disc harrow. I laughed for quite a while over that one.

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
Him falling off the wagon would no doubt be the highlight of my trip whether he did so literally or figuratively.

Submitted by GVN (not verified) on
I can promise you that he did not, there is no Home Depot in Boone! It would have to be Lowes. haha I meant for that to be funny because I agree with you.

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
The more I think about it the more I'm convinced that he was sued by someone more outlandish, like Columbia House, lmao.

Submitted by Anon (not verified) on
Thank you! Yes, there are just too many "coincidences" in this show...

Submitted by daveburrell (not verified) on
I started out liking it. Until I notice a LOT of slipups others mentioned. The one last night with Eustace chasing a "poacher" out to "steal his land", C'mon. It was a recreation at best. They start tracking the bad hunter like they're indians,"looking for sign". then we have a very well timed "fall" by his friend that makes them just miss the bad guy. Yeah ok. Then we see Mr.Poacher ride away on a very well maintained gravel or asphalt road that looks 5 minutes from my house in complete civilization. All because Eustace thinks the guy shot a turkey. Turkeys don't just stay on one plot, and clearly it was near the edge of the property line. Then they make a production of posting homemade no hunting signs. "that should keep them away" says Eustace!!! Think maybe you would have put no hunting or trespassing signs up YEARS AGO EUSTACE? All faked. Is he gay? Is the reason we never see another person that Eustace has a wayward boys camp for troubled boy teens. I never see Eustace with a woman that is for sure. Tom is just a guy living in Montana with every convenience. It's a very settled area, electricity, phone, truck... and did you see when Toms truck broke down? He gets out of the truck and builds a fire while worried about Grizzlies. How about staying in the relatively warm truck? A bit safer, and warmer than sitting in snow... His friend comes up to him and tells him he saw 2 sets of antlers Tom could use to make knifes. "lets go find them!" Wouldn't it have been easier for his friend to simply bring them back to Tom when he originally found the two small antlers? They have to go antler Hunting to re-find the antlers his friend left behind. More drama created out of nothing. The trapper guy Marty may be real but if so is just a trainwreck. If he is for real, and he might be, his organization is scatterbrained. He sets out in minus 40 degree temps on his snowmobile, no gun, and is miles from camp. I sure hope that old engine fires up or you may have to take a ride back with the shows cameramen in their van! Haha. He is also constantly worrying his plane won't handle the weight, like when he shot the caribou. Ever think of calculating how much weight your plane can handle Marty? Such as before you take off and EVERYTIME stating you don't know if the plane can handle the weight. Really? Its called fuel and weight calculating and Marty just wings it apparently. Some pilot! Every flight is life or death with this man who apparently has never read how much his plane can haul or owns a calculator. He wouldn't last a season if for real. A good concept, hurt by fake recreations and fake mountain men.

Submitted by grtgzu (not verified) on
You guys have had me falling out of my chair with the comments about this show, LOL!! (I almost sprayed Pepsi all over my screen)...How come nobody's talking about when Hapless Marty fell of his "beater snowmobile" the other day? Was I the only one laughing uncontrollably when he went "AAAUUGH!"? And how is it that he suffered no visible injuries after that? This guy is asking for imminent death...And when his glasses broke, how the hell was he able to continue thru the snow until he got his spare pair from the plane? (another "beater whirlygig" at best)..... "Useless" is another story - totally unreal....Was anybody else grossed out when he showed his yeller tee-fus after chewing on that root for his cold? This guy makes a buncha loot with the overpriced classes, tours, and such, so there's no WAY he should be behind on his taxes...Why is there no health inspector on his property to make sure he's eliminating waste in a proper manner? I like Tom - I think he's a nice old guy - he just likes to hunt - but maybe he should think about what his kids told him about retiring to Florida...He's no spring chicken anymore and I don't wanna see nothing bad happen to Elly - she's a good dog...

Submitted by GVN (not verified) on
I just wanted to say, and I hate to do this, that Eustace is not raking in the dough. Like I've mentioned before, living in the same area as him I've never heard of him. I can almost promise you he does not get the attention anyone may believe he does. Part of me believes this show is his hope for publicity, hoping that people will think, "I'd love to go learn how to make an almost $100 spoon from him."


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