Martha Tansy became popular throughout the world in 2021, when she was featured in six episodes of season 10 of one of the world’s most popular award-winning western reality TV series. Produced by the History Channel, “Mountain Men” premiered in May 2012, initially detailing the lives of three cast members who defied the odds pitted against them on a daily basis, in some of the most remote regions on the planet.

The series started with Eustace Conway, Marty Meierotto and Tom Oar, all three of whom have very different lifestyles, but each wildly entertaining to observe, as well as a valuable lesson to anyone seeking to do anything similar.

We have been having so much fun meeting and visiting with such wonderful people. Elli and I would love to see you at the…

Posted by Martha Tansy Offroad, Racing and Hunting on Friday, June 11, 2021

The targets of “Mountain Men” producers

Conway is still the face of the show, having spent over nine years in front of the camera in as many as 120 episodes. He’s been on a private piece of land in North Carolina, USA’s Blue Ridge Mountains, which is known in the show as Turtle Island, even though it’s not an actual island in the slightest. Eustace hosts guests from all over the world there, teaching them the most elementary skills required to brave the wilderness on one’s own.

There is also a lien looming over Conway’s land, which he is looking to get rid of by making as much of a profit as possible through various means. One such way is to gather significant amounts of firewood, but not by using common, everyday methods. Instead, he employs several different techniques taught to him by experienced natives over his many years of naturalism and mountain dwelling.

Meierotto, on the other hand, is a true family man. He normally resides with Dominique and Noah, his wife and daughter, in the Alaskan census designated place (CDP) called Two Rivers, which has approximately 650 residents. Sitting in the Fairbanks North Star borough, the place’s record lowest temperature is -59 Fahrenheit (-51 Celsius).

Marty’s conditions get even worse throughout the year, however, as he flies out once a month to a hunting cabin he owns, situated on the Alaska North Slope’s Draanjik River. To land there safely, the expert hunter pilots his faithful Piper PA-18A-150 Super Cub plane equipped with tundra tires. He then mounts a snowmobile and drives it through the unending snow, checking all of the traps he had previously primed.

After all the carcasses are picked up, the animals’ fur, meat and sometimes bones are harvested to be sold later on, while Marty also takes the time to re-arm the traps before returning home. He and his family use the Draanjik River cabin as a serious source of income, which combined with the money made from the TV series, has helped keep them afloat. That said, Marty dropped out of the show with the conclusion of season eight.

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The third and equally as important prominent face of this show is Tom Oar, who work as a rodeo cowboy for a number of years until catching the survival bug. He now lives in a very small community, in a house near the Yaak River, which is a tributary of the Kootenai River in the northwest of Montana. He isn’t alone though, as his wife Nancy and their dog called Ellie provide significant company.

Since the winters get really harsh in one of the northernmost lower-48 US states, Oar and his wife and dog had to become used to massive snowstorms, extremely low temperatures, and a general scarcity of food, all of which lasts for up to seven months there. In a race to survive, the wedded couple and a few neighbors scramble to secure their livelihood almost every day.

Oar also makes money tanning the pelts of game animals, using various ancient methods that far outperform standard modern practice, which he picked up from native tribesmen and their millennia-long traditions of staying well-fed and warmed up, no matter the location. Together with Conway, Tom remains the show’s protagonist, having been featured in it just as long.

Throughout the seasons, the series took a look at more such survival experts, all with very different lives and often unique areas of expertise, thus offering a wide array of wilderness education to their audience.

For example, Rich Lewis and his wife Diane showed up in the series between seasons two and six, at which point he was showcased hunting down one of the most dangerous and unforgiving beasts in the whole of his continent – the North American cougar, also known as mountain lion.

To first be able to track them down, Lewis employed a trusty group of experienced hounds who can track smells in an unimaginable radius, even throughout the winter season. With a perfect method of locating the mountain lions safely, all Rich had to do most of the time was pull the trigger.

Not a lot of meat comes from these felines, but what he’s really after is the pelt, which sells for exorbitant prices due to the rarity of mountain lion hunters, as generally no one likes to take on the risk of being mauled or worse. In spite of being rather good at what he did, Lewis said he was getting too old for the craft and ultimately dropped out of the series. Had he continued, he would’ve been a fan favorite for many more episodes to come.

Enter Martha Tansy – the hunter-soldier

The series has featured many experts over the years, and the latest one to join the diverse cast was a certain Martha Tansy from the north of the US. Although she didn’t grow up there, Martha has spent most of her adult life in the Alaskan wilderness.

Having been in the US army for just over five years, Martha is quite skilled at a number of jobs that normally require a male hand, such as fixing cars, creating tools and weapons, as well as hunting big game, dangerous off-road driving, and even sharpshooting.

She now lives in the southern part of central Alaska with her daughter Elli, who provides help with less physically challenging tasks, including setting up tents, preparing food, and harvesting smaller parts of the big catches.

Tansy is a designated hunter of the Alaskan Athabascans – one of the native peoples of the 49th state, originally from its deep interior, believed to have been present there for hundreds of years. Self-identified as ‘Tinneh,’ or today’s ‘Dena,’ meaning ‘people’ or ‘men,’ alongside Canadian Athabascans, they are considered the oldest out of the eleven native groups hailing from the northernmost parts of their continent.

There are only about 6,500 of them left in the world, and with native populations continuing to be on the decline, as well as the safety of wildlife, the governments of both Canada and the US passed legislation to protect the ancient peoples and their land.

Under particular terms previously agreed upon by the government, these native communities all have designated hunters who have spent significant time obtaining valid hunting licenses, undergoing thorough checks and training, to ensure that the targeted species are protected from poaching and subsequent extinction.

This is exactly what Martha does, providing food and other amenities for the natives as one of the only people allowed to hunt wildlife in a vast radius. When her job and military background are combined with the fact that she is a single mother who lives in one of the world’s most hostile pockets with a little girl, this designated hunter is apparently the prime target of “Mountain Men” producers.

Being rather knowledgeable about all kinds of vehicles, especially the larger type, Tansy knows exactly which upgrades to get in order to do her job optimally. One such example was her purchase of a brand new hunting truck, which came with more benefits than just what its name implies.

Cleaning up storms: An unbreakable duo

In the video posted by History Channel, Martha is seen dealing with the consequences of a severe storm that raged by a few days ago. She said ‘We had trees down everywhere. The roads were totally just destroyed. It was one of the worst storms I’ve ever experienced here in Alaska.’

While working on her vehicle, Martha makes sure to include Elli and explain everything to her, hoping that her daughter will one day follow in the same footsteps. There’s a basis for that dream, as the child always seems curious and eager to learn, listening carefully as her mother talks.

Detailing the upgrade she was performing, Tansy said ‘So, Elli, this bumper already has the winch in it. We’ve put it in there earlier knowing it’s gonna be really, really, really heavy. Okay?’ She is then seen talking alone, saying ‘This winch is really, really big. It’s gonna be able to pull a whole lot more weight.’ The new device she’s talking about has a pull strength of 16,000 lbs (7,300 kgs), and it will allow Martha to clear up even the most congested of roads.

The mother and daughter then slowly mount the winch onto the front of the truck, aligning the metal slots with the vehicle’s frame using a mini crane. As they move through the process, Tansy explains every single step to Elli, who is in control of several devices. They are essentially rebuilding most of the machine.

To that end, Martha stated ‘Building this truck has been something that’s so important to our mission.’ They then roll in the brand new wheels, comparing them to the old ones. The mother says ‘Look at the difference here, we’ve got, like, a good 18 inches (46 cms) or so.’ Comparing it to her previous main vehicle, she explained ‘It’s gonna be taller than the Moose Buggy, so it’s gonna be able to cross a lot more rivers, swamps.’

As the daughter follows along, her mom explains the process further with ‘Every single bolt gets a washer and a nut.’ To the camera, she said ‘Teaching Elli how to work on cars is super important. It’s a big deal. I mean, it’s survival. If we miss something, it’s not just ‘Oh,’ you know, ‘we gotta take it to a shop,’ it’s ‘Oh, we get stuck out in the middle of the woods.’

With the truck assembled and ready, right as they’re about to roll out, Martha explains that ‘We’ve got a lot of work to do right now and try to make our way through the woods, and clear the trees out of the way.’ They stop in front of a large tree that’s sitting right across the only road that leads to town.

Tansy then plots a course of action, saying ‘I wanna back the truck up so we have that nice angle. We’ll hook onto the butt of the tree there with the tree saver, run the winch line out, hook it, and my hope is that it just comes and it pushes off to the side all in one pull, but if it breaks, ‘cause it does look a little rotten, then we’ll have to take a couple of runs at it, okay?’ Everything goes smoothly, and the hulking fortress of steel with monster winch plows on through the snow.

Martha isn’t married anymore

While Elli is indeed a child born in wedlock, Martha seems to have split from her father years ago. Roy Tansy Jr. is an accomplished businessman, with over 30 years of employment at the Ahtna Netiye’ Inc. company from Alaska, with experience in corporate leadership, operations, strategic planning and business development departments.

In 2020 he was promoted to chief operating officer (COO) of Ahtna, which probably provides a significant income. Even with that being the case, Elli prefers to live with her mother and learn to survive in the wilderness, as it looks like Roy didn’t end up winning the custody battle, if there even was one. Due to the lack of sharing on the part of both former spouses, the only thing that the public knows is that Martha is a divorced woman, as of December 2022.

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