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Meet the Mountain Men

 

Most of us are happy living in cities and towns. Some prefer the more idyllic, rural life in the countryside. Then there are those who like to live in the middle of nowhere with lethal weather conditions surrounded by animals that want to eat your face. Welcome, then, to Mountain Men.

We're all well versed in the shenanigans of Messrs. Mears 'n' Grylles but these chaps, however impressive their derring-do may be on TV, can, in reality, finish filming the show, take a nice hot shower and still make it in time to the Groucho Club for a glass of Prosecco with Stephen Fry.  Not so the Mountain Men, these good ol' boys are the real thing, for them, survival is home. And you're going to need a beard and a hat.

Tom Oar is already a veteran of the show, he lives in the isolated North West region of Montana with his wife, Nancy. Coincidentally, he's an ex-Bronco rider just like Kyle Bell who, with his son, Ben, makes his debut in the third series of the show.Tom is a trapper and deer-skin tanner, whilst he and his wife are self-sufficient he's able to trade the leather in order to subsidise his lifestyle. 

Marty Meierotto has a wife and young daughter, not that he sees much of them. Already situated in complete isolation in Alaska he spends months alone, sixty miles from home, working in such a remote region he has to 'commute' to his one-room log cabin by light aircraft. It can go as low as minus 60 out there but Marty's in his element in the elements.

Charlie Tucker is the new kid on the block, that's if your block is Main's Great North Woods. We join Charlie and his pal, Jim following his first full, and at times, traumatic year living off the land. Charlie is the least experienced Mountain Man to feature in the show; for the most part the other Men take life in their stride but Charlie is very much on a learning curve reminding us how unrelentingly tough it is to survive in the wilderness.

Born and bred in Idaho, Rich Lewis is as rugged as they come. He makes a living hunting down Lions, which isn't the sort of work you'll find at your local job centre. With his hand-reared dogs Rich isn't keen on killing the Cougars - though they've been known to kill his dogs - his aim is to track the animal down and run it out of the territory under threat. The work is dangerous, tough, and in between he's got to provide for himself and his wife, Diane. But Rich is a contented soul and wouldn't have it any other way, as he says himself, not for a million bucks.

Perhaps the king of the Mountain Men is Eustace Conway. Well-educated and single-minded, Eustace owns Turtle Island and lives a self-sufficient life in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife and three sons. Situated in 1000 acres of land, Turtle Island is more than just a family dwelling, Eustace shares his extensive knowledge of primitive tools and practices with interns, such as Justin, who found it hard to come to terms with traditional ways of living, and that's putting it mildly. Life here is constantly under threat from poachers, scavengers, unpredictable weather and, more recently, some very untraditional bureaucracy. It turns out that State Officials and representatives of North Carolina Council watch Mountain Men too.

Jamie Dwelly