• "Mountain Men" is a reality series airing on the History channel, which follows a group of people living in remote mountain ranges and relying on nature to survive.
• The current cast includes Tom Oar, Eustace Conway, Mike Horstman, Jake Herak, Kidd and Harry Youren, Josh Kirk and Martha Tansy.
• Marty Meierotto, a member of the Alaska Trappers Association, was invited to join the show after an article was published about him in 2010.
• Preston Roberts, a key member of the show, passed away in 2017 due to an inoperable liver tumor.
• Cast members initially earned around $2,000 to $3,500 per episode, but now receive around $10,000 per episode.

“Mountain Men” is reality series airing on the History channel, which follows a group of people who live in some of America’s most inhospitable mountain ranges, mostly cut off from technology and modern urban life. Instead, they rely on nature and their skills to survive, dealing with adverse weather conditions. Their fans have enjoyed the survivalist’s adventures and way of life, the challenge reminding us that having the bare requirements of life is enough to live a happy existence, devoid of modern perks. The show premiered in May 2013 and has run for 10 seasons.

Who is the “Mountain Men” Cast?

Over the years, the show has numbered various members who have exited the show during its 10-season tenure, including Charlie Tucker, George Michaud and Rich Lewis.

The current show’s cast includes a number of skilled men and women living their own way in the often frigid environment of Alaska: Tom Oar, Eustace Conway, Mike Horstman, Jake Herak, Kidd and Harry Youren, Josh Kirk and Martha Tansy.

Who is Marty Meierotto?

Hailing from Northern Wisconsin, USA, Marty Meierotto inherited a love and interest of nature and the wild way of living from his father, an avid hunter and trapper. When he was seven, his father took him to see his trapline, a life-changing experience after which he was confident that he wanted to follow in his footsteps. Interested in learning about wild animals, their habits and tracks, Marty began reading old mountain men books, dreaming of living in the woods someday. He became familiar with Alaska and its geographical features in those books, finding a large area of undiscovered and so unexplored wilderness, which piqued his interest.

His first touch with the extreme conditions of Alaska transpired in 1985 when aged 23 he moved to Alaska with his brother to begin a new life. It did not take him long to realize that pursuing his passion was more challenging than he had thought; additionally, it required some financial backing for buying traps and securing transportation to remote areas, which prompted him to find employment as a construction laborer, logger, and janitor.

Three years later, he and his brother launched their first trapping season. After being dropped by an airplane in the middle of nowhere without any way of establishing communication with the outside world, he realized the gravity of his situation. So they arranged to stay there for the next four months, and experienced various challenges ranging from trapping under extremely low temperatures and broadening their hunting menu – Marty’s previous experience was limited only to foxes. However, despite this rocky start, after completing his four months, he was even more confident that he wanted to pursue this lifestyle, and his profession as a trapper.

Even though he envisioned living in the woods full-time, trapping is not a highly lucrative job, so Marty resorted to finding other forms of employment to support himself, including working as a firefighter/smokejumper during summer seasons when trapping is not in full swing.

Considering that some parts of Alaska are inaccessible by foot, especially the isolated areas where he would usually set his traplines, in 2015 he became a pilot, then bought a plane which he named “Super Cub.”

He now resides part-time in the small town entitled Two Rivers with his wife Dominique and daughter Noah Jane. Marty usually spends the trapping seasons living in his tiny cabin without electricity, away from his home. However, that changed when his daughter joined him, so he changed his schedule and started spending several weeks on the trapline, then heading home for two days, and so on.

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How did Marty get the part on “Mountain Men”?

Marty, a member of the Alaska Trappers Association, received a ‘phone call from the association’s president Randy Zarke, who informed him that reporter Bill Heavey from Field & Stream magazine, had contacted him for a story about trapping. Randy thought that Marty was the perfect person for the article, as he had years of experience under his belt, and truly enjoyed doing it regardless of the challenges it posed.

Despite his initial reluctance, Marty agreed to work with the reporter, and take him to his traplines to show him what being a trapper involved. He also wanted to clear the air regarding some misconceptions about the profession, as most trappers are portrayed as ‘evil people running through the woods and killing everything that moves’, and showcase the real side of the job.

After following Marty for a week, the reporter experienced first-hand what it was like to hunt and survive in the conditions, gathering enough information for his article, which was published in February 2010 with the headline “The Ultimate Survivor: Life in The Wild with Alaska’s Toughest Trapper.” After the article began circulating, he received an invitation to join the new reality series “Mountain Men.” Initially, Marty didn’t want to be a part of it, saying: ‘I’m not interested in a cheesy show,’ but later changed his mind as he thought that the reality series would be his medium through which he could share his life stories and way of living.

Why did he leave “Mountain Men”?

Marty became a cast member in 2012, making his debut appearance in the episode “Winter is Coming.” During the eight seasons he appeared in the show, he amused the audiences with his wit and trapping skills.

However, in the fifth episode entitled “Final Farewell” of the eighth season, the fans learned about his decision to leave the show, much to their shock and sadness.

While many thought that the constant threat to his life and the danger he’s experienced in this line of business prompted him to walk away from the show, Marty disclosed a different answer – he wanted to include his daughter in the trapping, but without the cameras following them around. Marty said: ‘I thought a lot about it and that’s the decision I made. It’s gonna be the best for her and family time and all that. I’ve been doing this my whole life, and for the past eight years I’ve had a camera on me all the time. I’m glad we got to tell a story.’

He also added: ‘At the end of the day, I’m just a trapper. If you’re laying on your deathbed, you’re not going to be thinking about how much money you made or some job you had. You’re going to be thinking about what you’ve done with your life.

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Where is Marty now?

Following his exit from the show, Marty has kept a low profile, eluding public appearances. However, it is known that in 2019 he officially retired from his job as a wilderness fireman after 31 years of service. While conducting his last mission as a pilot, his friends and family made a surprise appearance for him. They waited for him to land his plane, and in that way made his last mission a memorable moment, considering he had spent three decades with the Alaska Fire Service. Marty’s reaction was precious, laughing and saying: ‘this is so embarrassing’.

In 2020 he published the collection of stories entitled “The Land of Wilderness: The Writings of Marty Meierotto,” intended for people who love the trapping, outdoors and off-the-grid lifestyle.

Marty Saved the Reporter

One of his most heroic and memorable moments was perhaps when he saved the writer/reporter Bill, the same writer who wrote the article about Marty and spent a week with him at his cabin.

In 2013, Bill joined Marty on his snowmobile to go to his traplines. However, he soon got more than he bargained for after losing control of his snowmobile.

In his article, Bill penned: ‘I’ve been riding for four hours now. As a novice, I had no idea how physically demanding it was. In this kind of country, you ride standing up, the better to react to hidden bumps and holes.” Luckily, Bill managed to start a fire which Marty noticed, and successfully located him. Bill also added that Marty’s wife, in a way, had a role in his saving. Before Marty and Bill hopped on the plane, Dominique told Bill the following: ‘Never leave the cabin without a lighter and some paper in your pocket. You got that?’

Who died on the show?

The show, which chronicles people’s day-to-day activities in isolated property, often depicts life-threatening challenges. However, most of the members are seasoned mountain men with a lot of experience, and knowledge to deal with tricky situations.

Unfortunately, even though no one has died due to the challenges they faced on the show, Preston Roberts left his loved ones due to unfortunate circumstances.

On 24 July 2017, one of the key members, Preston, who appeared alongside Eustace Conway, passed away due to complications caused by an inoperable liver tumor at age 60. He last appeared in the sixth season’s finale, “To Everything There Is Reason,” with a special dedication to his memory.

His friend Eustace posted a heartfelt note about his friend’s passing: ‘The loss and sadness we feel is indescribable. Turtle Island will host a memorial Celebration of Life ceremony on Saturday 29 July at 3pm. Currently, Girls Camp is in session at Turtle Island, so please be sensitive to that fact while we all work through this painful transition.’

What happened to Rich Lewis of “Mountain Men”?

Rich Lewis is a well-known survivalist who joined the show in the second season. He quickly became a fan favorite for his various skills and no-nonsense approach to life. Rich was also crowned as a local hero for his knack for scaring mountain lions from the community in which he lived.

Contrary to speculation and rumor, Rich wasn’t fired from the show or replaced by another member. Instead, Rick quit the show of his own volition, disclosing that he was getting too old to live this lifestyle, which called for a lot of labor and physical readiness on top of extraordinary survival abilities. His last appearance was in the show’s sixth season, which premiered in 2017.

How much do cast members make on the show?

Cast members initially earned around $2,000 to $3,500 per episode, according to sources. however, as the show’s popularity increased, so did their paychecks. Additionally, their pay can vary for several reasons, including actors’ input and arrangements with the producers.

Now, it’s believed that they receive around $10,000 per episode, while sources indicate that some of the cast members have higher pay.

Which cast member has the biggest net worth?

The original cast member who has been part of the show during its 10-seasons-run, Eustace Conway, has the biggest net worth estimated at $2 million; other members have wealth ranging from $200,000 to $500,000.

Controversy on the show

As happens with most reality series, “Mountain Men” has attracted some controversy and criticism regarding its portrayal of the life in wilderness, and the cast members’ behavior. The show has come under fire for being utterly fake, and ridiculed by true-life outdoorsmen. Many sites that endorse similar content, such as “Off-Grid,” which “reports on the people, technologies, events and influences throughout the global off-grid community,” shared a different perspective on the show’s plot and idea.

Some of those claim that the show is far from a realistic depiction of secluded life, stripped of modern life perks, adding that “Mountain Men” is a group of elderly men managing the property while pretending to be self-sufficient survivalists.

Tom Oar Speaks about False Danger

While the suspense and a bit of danger is a must-have trope for this type of reality series, some fans are wondering whether the cast members are genuinely exposed to such risks and endangerment. Another long-standing member of the show, Tom Oar, revealed some juicy information regarding the imminent danger they face while conducting their daily activities, claiming that they over-dramatize the content. Tom said: ‘They always have to make it seem more dangerous. I’m too boring otherwise.”

He added that the crew often included edited shots of bears in the vicinity of his property to portray his life as more dangerous. However, according to his statements, the animals are rarely around his house when the crew is there, so they often have to travel to other areas to film the wildlife.

Eustace Conway also made a similar admission in the book “The Last American Man,” written by Elizabeth Gilbert. While writing the book, Eustace said to Elizabeth: “When I go out in public, I deliberately try to present myself as this wild guy who just came down off the mountain, and I’m aware that it’s largely an act.”

Eustace Conway’s Controversial Survival School

In addition to his peculiar lifestyle and involvement in the show, Eustace opened a survival school as another way of supporting himself, and the show’s producers draw attention to it. Considering his displayed expertise on the show, one would think that Eustace has obtained the knowledge needed to run such an institution, but unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case, as his school has been shut down on multiple occasions due to safety violations. To make matters worse, after it reopened, one of the visitors had an accident – a woman was observing a slingshot demonstration and was hit by a rock, resulting in temporary blindness.

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