Matt Raney from the Alaskan Raney family first came to be known in May 2013, when the first episode of “Ultimate Survival Alaska” aired on National Geographic Channel. It featured a number of survival experts fighting their way through the rough wilderness to reach the destination previously determined by the producers. Matt and his father Marty headed n expeditions through the Alaskan-Canadian Brooks Range.
On their ultimately separate journeys, the father, son and a friend headed through various parts of the trek known as ‘legs.’ Making it to the other side required not only knowing how to find a meal in the middle of nowhere, but also various navigational skills and everything else needed to sustain their calorie intake and body heat in extremely hostile conditions. Managing to finish this trip on camera was one of the first great achievements for the family’s second in command.
In National Geographic’s video entitled “Leg 7: Matt Raney | National Geographic,” uploaded in June 2013, Matt can be seen talking about the current progress of his journey. He said ‘Alright. Day two on the Prince William Sound expedition leg. Couldn’t get a fire started, this bag is soaking wet, cold. I’ve managed to set up a tarp and a tent, but also managed to get lost from my old man and Tyler.’
What the survivalist is referencing there is that he, his father and wilderness expert Tyler Johnson were put into one crew at the start of the trek but, as everything tends to become complicated with the unpredictability of nature, he seems to have gone further ahead than his partners. Without a phone or any sort of tracking device, he’s reasonably worried about whether they’ll reunite soon.
Thus, he said ‘So, separated from my dad, just about to get dark, and I’m sitting by myself. So, here I am, not very excited, but um, nothing I can do about it. Hopefully, tomorrow I can cover some distance or find him. Maybe see some of their signs and go out in a kayak, and see what I can see around here, you know?’
Not all is grim in most situations though, and those hailing from the world’s harshest climates know that best. Being an Alaskan native and having lived as a subsistence hunter for most of his life, Matt ended his video with ‘So, yeah, not happy about being on my own, but, gonna deal with it as it comes, and see what the future holds. Alright. Good night.’
While in season one the contestants had 72 hours to reach the predetermined destination, in the second season they had 12 hours less. This time, the contestants were split into four groups: endurance, military, mountaineers and woodsmen teams. Marty Raney and Tyler Johnson graced the mountaineers, while Matt sat that one out, with Thomas Ginn joining instead. They ended up taking third place.
Finally, in season three of the series, Marty and Tyler were there as well, with Vern Tejas replacing Matt in the Alaskans team. They earned the least points and thus placed last, but their fame spread throughout the world nonetheless. Even with Matt out of the picture, Marty’s participation brought prospects and coverage to the Raney family, who eventually used the newfound prestige to run their own show.
The three homestead heroes
“Homestead Rescue” first aired in 2016 on Discovery Channel, detailing the struggles of those living in remote locations, with varying issues in their homes that require a much deeper understanding of the environment and greater outdoors experience. Marty Raney and his children Matt and Misty set out to help each of the homesteaders and give their houses much-needed makeovers or upgrades, without which their inhabitants simply can’t go on in the wilderness.
As an expert hunter first and foremost, Matt is best suited to help remote dwellers secure their daily livelihood, teaching them tips and tricks on how to obtain the meat of most hard-to-track game, especially moose, Dall sheep and caribou. That aside, he’s also highly proficient at animal husbandry, and can often help lone farmers threefold in the domestic yield of meat, wool, milk and other crucial produce.
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Sometimes, however, the most important aspect to pay attention to is a dysfunctional part of the homestead itself, ranging from bad foundations to holes in the roof. Solving these types of problems requires a much more hands-on approach, oftentimes involving expensive materials to replace the worn down ones, or even entire brand new parts for the home, which are generally taken care of by the show fund that Discovery Channel offers the Raneys on a project basis.
One such example can be seen in the video entitled “Marty Raney Falls in the Mud! | Homestead Rescue,” in which a home is in need of serious repairs. One of the show’s principles is that the Raneys have only a limited amount of time to spend on each separate family, which builds pressure and pushes them to do better, work faster, thus creating an interesting build-up for the audience. In this video, the Raneys have only a few hours left to go with this particular family.
The cabin in which they live stood on shaky foundations that could easily come undone through many natural changes, such as soil erosion resulting from heavy rainfall, river flow, or simply the weight of time. To remedy the issue, the Raneys gather a crew of handymen and begin reinforcing the foundations plank by plank, using modern equipment such as pneumatic jacks.
After that, Matt returns to his main project in that household – fixing the issue he personally detected and noted as highly important, saying ‘The water tank they had was outdated. We got ‘em a couple of new ones, and the only way to get it across to the other side is going across this bridge.’ He then huffs and grunts while pushing the massive black water tank over a river crossing made of stacked logs, on whose surface irregularities the tank began to get stuck.
Matt said ‘I don’t know if I can get this thing up,’ beginning to slowly roll the tank up the grass hill. However, as the surface was wet from the morning dew and nearby flowing water, he stumbled and slipped backwards, turning towards the water and wading into it to try and stop his momentum. The tank rolled off the grass and followed him into the forest river, slapping down top-first on the surface and beginning to float away. He simply giggled and grabbed the tank back, saying ‘That was epic!’
Next up, the cabin’s front porch needed a makeover as well, which Marty was going to take care of. Measuring tape in hand, he stated ‘This deck is gonna be eight feet (two and a half meters) out, which is where this tape is, right here. Let’s go get a beam.’ The family then had to turn to the group of locals to help with a few other modifications, as it was impossible for the three of them to carry the hefty object.
Marty said ‘We’ve got it to the point where we need a 26-foot-long (7.9-meter-long) beam. The three of us cannot carry that beam, it’s heavy, and we need all hands-on homestead to come together and carry that beam.’ The gigantic wood slab in question was way too hulking to be taken over the normal bridge, so they had to use the one made of logs.
Ten people carried the beam with very slow and careful movements. To that effect, Marty stated ‘We had to go across country, cross a wooden home-made bridge that Matt built, turn the corner, go between the trees like a goalpost.’ As they attempted to turn with the beam in hand, Matt said ‘I don’t know, it’s real mucky,’ after which his father called for the rotation, initially placing his left foot on the other edge of a massive mud canal.
The Raney patriarch then slipped under the weight of the load, falling into the mud in a white shirt and Texas jeans, whose dark brown stains really stood out at first glance. Although not very young, Marty didn’t suffer serious injuries from the mishap, actually joking about it, saying ‘Somebody fell, not to mention any names’ while showing the massive blotch on his shoulder.
Meet Matt Raney’s baby daughter, Ruby!
Read more about baby Ruby here: https://t.co/GZbGPJ5lFO
— Homestead Rescue (@HomesteadRescue) October 24, 2021
The team ultimately mounted the beam well, following Marty’s commands on when and where to push it, after which screws were securely drilled into it. With the main porch beam in place, it was time for the family to focus on the next task. Marty stated ‘So the only thing left to do now is re-deck the whole thing. Brand new treated lumber posts, all new joists. These guys will be able to walk out of a safe cabin onto a safe deck. One cool, original, salmon stream-facing deck.’
It was then time to test out the extensive cabin upgrades, with client Joshua Wilson and his brother Jake entering the living space alongside Marty to verify that the new foundation isn’t shaky anymore. The Raney patriarch said ‘Out in this area, I noticed when I first came here on day one, it just felt, you could just feel it walking that this was doing that, right?’
Joshua said ‘Not even noticeable at this point. I think it’s definitely more solid. Definitely more level.’ The three then started hopping on the formerly squishy part of the floor, satisfied with how much more reliable it had become. Jake said ‘It definitely feels a lot more sturdy. Before, right in this area especially, it was very spongy, and now it’s definitely a lot more sturdy. I feel comfortable jumping up and down on it right now.’
Relieved, Joshua explained how ‘Now we can start doing more stuff on the inside without having to worry about the floor sinking anymore.’ Also satisfied, Marty stated ‘I like it. It makes me feel really good, frankly, to hear you guys say that it’s better.’ It finally turned out that the Raneys had spent only $600 on bringing the cabin from basically unlivable to a proper forest fortress. It was revealed that only one earthquake or mudslide could’ve leveled it in its entirety in its previous condition.
Building their own piece of paradise
Marty, Matt and Misty are all involved in their own projects as well, aside from working together on “Homestead Rescue,” but as they’re a family like any other after all, they’re also busy with rebuilding their family-owned homestead. The project is called “Homestead Rescue: Raney Ranch,” and is a spin-off from the original that focuses only on the Raneys, though there are more than three members in that flock.
The show follows them along as they race against time and the elements to try and not only repair but fully optimize the inherited Raney ranch that had been in their family for generations. Unlike the current family, their ancestors had neither the expertise nor the funds to be able to complete significant changes to the homestead, but the situation is different today.
The first four episodes of the series came out in the second half of 2020, with the pilot entitled “Living on the Edge.” It apparently fared pretty well, since the audience remained hungry for more, causing Discovery Channel to invest further into the spin-off. The second season was released with eight episodes, covering the harsh Alaskan mid-autumn that the family used to get some work in before the snow, with the season’s last and series’ most current episode entitled “Dead of Winter.”
Concluding, Matt and his father and sister remain in the media spotlight thanks to two separate series by Discovery Channel, while Matt himself is also busy being a family man. He often poses with his wife for Instagram, such as the most recent time on 25 October 2022 when he also teased the upcoming season of the show for which he’s most familiar, saying ‘Here’s a little ray of sunshine for everyone! #homesteadrescue #kentucky #season10.’