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Eustace Conway – the Last American Man
The love affair between reality TV and the off-grid lifestyle continues with the new series Mountain Men (finale this thursday 8/9pm)on History Channel.

Eustace Conway, one of the stars of Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America
is a lead character. The sales pitch for the series links it unashamedly to off-grid living – “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live your life off the grid?” runs the Web site. “Have you wished you could shed the complications of modern society and live in the wilderness, using only the things nature has provided? ”

And like all reality TV, the cracks are showing as viewers realise that the series is extremely unreal.
Set in the Great Outdoors, viewers love to see stars in such reality shows as Man Vs Wild and Doomsday Preppers suffer at the hands of Mother Nature – as has frequently happened to them on family backpacking trips. Unlike their suffering, however, reality stars’ woes are anything but real.
Last March, Discovery Channel fired Bear Grylls, the star of “Man vs. Wild.” It may have had something to do with the fact that Bear wasn’t spending as much time in the wilderness as viewers were led to believe.
This month you can catch “Mountain Men” on the History Channel. First you sit through a bunch of commercials for erectile dysfunction and other drugs.
Then you meet the reality how stars. “Mountain Men” features three so-called mountain men: Eustace Conway, owner of Turtle Island,a fertile couple of hundred acres in N.C.; Marty Meierotto, from somewhere in Alaska; and Tom Oar, who lives in the wilds of the Yaak and Kootenai valleys in western Montana.
Eustace, who spends most of the show feuding with an incompetent intern, nevertheless trusts the lad to sight in his deer rifle. Then he goes deer hunting and fails to hit the deer with a clean shot, then loses the blood trail.

Eustace went down to his mailbox on the latest episode of the History Channel’s Mountain Men to find a letter threatening to take his property if he doesn’t pay his taxes.

“What pisses me off,” Eustace says, “is crazy people focusing on foolish things like taking my land away that have no idea that the land is the most important, sacred thing in my life, period. The people that are suing me, I never even met the people, and yet they’re taking my land away? B*******.” But, Eustace isn’t taking the lien against his property passively. “What this land means to me is life. It’s about existence. This is home. I’m ready to die to take care of this mountain.”

Marty, who clearly has enough blubber to stay warm in what we are told is “minus 60-degree temperatures,” gets stranded 10 miles from his cabin when his snowmobile breaks down. After a harrowing snowshoe hike on what appears to be a trail packed so hard you could drive a tank on it, he reaches the safety of his cabin.
His first move is to dip drinking water from a pot. Strange that Alaskan water doesn’t freeze at 60 degrees below zero.
Then, the next morning, he packs a 70-pound snowmobile motor back to the stranded sled and installs it. It is snowing at 60 degrees below zero and Marty gets cold, so he struggles to start a fire.
Tom goes duck hunting in a Kootenai River boat, blasts one duck and sends his dog into the river to retrieve it. The dog gets lost.
Tom goes out looking for his dog and his wife gets worried and calls a neighbor on what appears to be a cellphone. But later in the show, we are told there is no cell reception in the wilds of the Purcell Mountains.

These guys could use a few tips from Bear Grylls. Maybe History Channel should snap him up.

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site

97 Responses to “Mountain Men – TV’s usual trashy take on off-grid living”

  1. Susie Queen

    Ask his neighbors, Eustace Conway is the biggest fake out there. Locals call him “Useless”. He doesn’t ride his horse to town…he drives….on paved roads. LOL He can walk to a paved road in 20 minutes if he strolls, 10 if he rushes. His land is am embarrassment of rusting old trailers and cars and trucks,…and he is polluting the land badly, with oil and gasoline spills. He also mistreats his animals. Go within a mile of his land and stop and ask at any house. They will confirm.

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  2. Hammer

    It’s like watching cartoons it’s a good laugh… Narrator in season 2 talks about Eustases rifle as being home made……..I know a Lyman when I see one and there made in Italy ………….mindless stuff to make you sleepy before bed ?

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  3. Sara Bloom

    Sorry I can’t stand to watch the show. The premise is, or should be, living off the grid is really something special. It looks like nothing but a bunch of trouble for these guys. I live alone with fewer amenities than most people. The number one rule one must forever hold in the forefront of the mind in situations like mine, and even more so in theirs, is to plan ahead. These guys stumble from one problem to the next as if they are missing half their brains. Why would anyone live like that? If this was real they should all be dead already and the show should have been over long ago. Wah wah wah! I’m gonna die any minute. Sheesh! Go live in a development somewhere.

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  4. JM_Brazil

    OH yeah, just remembered. Two of them are out, ‘lost’ or far away from settlement, in a snow storm, and one of them decides to start a fire. They (the narrator explains) need to start a fire (to survive) and they do so via friction between two sticks. WTF? Two issues here. Who, who live in the wilderness, leaves home without matches, or a lighter? And of them who do, who can start a friction fire, in a cold snow-covered landscape, in minutes? And they were so casual about the ordeal. “It was getting late, so (Mountain dude’s name) decided to start a fire” and the show Mountain dude with a small handful of twigs in the snow, rubbing two sticks together, and POOF – fire. History channel – Learn to understand what is reality, and what is not.

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  5. JM_Brazil

    Funny, I searched for a sight about this show just to raise a point – and after reading some of the comments, I’m confronted with other points, such as the ‘stranded snow mobile’ ordeal. OK, first run, the guy get stranded on a broken sled 10 miles from home, walks home, returns with a new (80 lb, congrats on the 10-mile trek with an 80-lb motor) motor, starts driving home, and it breaks down again. Dude is supposed to walk home again, but what abut the cameraman? The same dude who was filming you drive your newly-fixed sled home? Couldn’t have you used the film crew’s sled, or truck, or whatever? Surely a film crew didn’t expect to get a ride back to your cabin on one newly-fixed sled? People. Anyway, watched the show tonight for a second time. There was a point I found totally stupid which I wanted to post about, but after ranting about the first point that I recalled from my first watching, I forgot what stupidity brought me here in the first place, so, grrr. Whatever, what a farce. Kudos to these guys who live in inhospitable places, but anti-kudos for the network to portray these guys under totally false circumstances. I grew up in the back woods of New England, and I know what nature, especially in the winter, is all about. I call BS History channel, these guys know what a typical day is in the cold. Stop embellishing.

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  6. Mitch

    Love all of the self sufficient outdoor shows! But, lets all admit, that some of the stuff from some of the shows gets a bit exaggerated! Not that I don’t respect everything that any of the individuals go thru…but, “TV” does like to throw an unrealistic mix into it, which I am not particularly fond of! If it’s “reality” I like to see reality!!!…Regardless, I enjoy the shows and respect, and am envious, of the people for living how they do!

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