In the episode entitled “Mayhem,” which aired last Thursday, Marty Meierotto, of Alaska, and Tom Oar, of Montana, both spent much of the episode trapping. Oar trapped two beavers in a nearby pond to help save his neighbor’s water supply from contamination while also securing some meat for the winter. And cameras followed Meierotto on his Alaskan trapline as he experienced a slow day on the trapline and some snowmobile issues. If you missed the episode, it airs again at 2 a.m. Central tonight and at noon on Thursday on the History Channel. To view the full episode online, you can visit the History Channel website.
Oar’s trapping scenes were well done and portrayed trapping in a positive light. Not only was he helping his neighbor by trapping the problem beavers, but he also mentioned that trapping the beavers would not be detrimental to the overall beaver population and that the #330 bodygrip traps were very humane. Oar said something to the effect of, “He never felt a thing” as he displayed a beaver in a trap. Oar also had a National Trappers Association member patch on his pack, which was nice to see on national television.
Meierotto was unsuccessful on his trapline after spending much of the episode battling snowmobile troubles. While I enjoyed seeing some of the lynx sets Meierotto made, it was hard for me to get over a production error in the episode. When Meierotto checked his first set on the trapline, he had a gun across his back. But at the next set, which took five minutes via snowmobile to reach according to the narrator, the gun was no longer there. The narrator then said something about a time when Meierotto was surrounded by wolves on a frozen lake. He had to fire his gun to get away from the wolves, according to the narrator. “This time, he’s unarmed,” the narrator said as the episode flashed to images of wolves and the sound of howling.
So, what happened to his gun between those two sets?
I’m sure it’s just a small production error that leaked into the episode, but it’s the kind of thing that makes viewers a little more skeptical of just how “real” this reality show is. I can assure you that by all accounts everything about Meierotto and his lifestyle is very much real, but the show is for entertainment, and the production team might have spruced up the footage a bit to make it more exciting for the viewers. It was a regrettable mistake.
The production team also seems to be overemphasizing the threat of danger in the wild. Yes, grizzly bears, wolves, lynx, cold and hunger can certainly be life-threatening, but the only immanent danger they’ve shown on the series so far appears to be Meierotto’s broke-down snowmobile and impending 10-mile hike back to camp in the dark and bitter cold, which will play out in the next episode (airing Thursday at 9 p.m. Central on the History Channel). While some viewers have pointed out that the Meierotto could hitch a ride back to camp on the cameramen’s snowmobile, I imagine the agreement beforehand was that the cameramen are merely there to observe unless it’s a life-or-death situation. The fact that they don’t appear to be helping Meierotto gives me hope that “Mountain Men” will be more realistic than the seemingly made-up gun drama from last week’s episode.
All in all though, I believe the episode was entertaining while also being a public relations success for trapping. The two veteran trappers portrayed trapping in a good light in homes across the country, many of which had very little or no understanding of trapping prior to viewing the show. While the jury is still out on the overall impact of “Mountain Men” for the trapping community, the show seems to be off to a good start in that regard.
The next episode, “Lost,” premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. Central.
Have you been watching “Mountain Men”? What did you think of this week’s episode?