‘Mountain Men’ Star Is ‘Just a Trapper’

When viewers last saw Alaskan trapper Marty Meierotto on the History Channel’s “Mountain Men” (prior to this week’s episode), he was about to embark on a bitter cold, four-hour hike home in the darkness after his snowmobile broke down. He was 10 miles from his rustic trapline cabin and temperatures had dropped to less than 50 degrees below zero. The narrator detailed the looming threat of “extremely aggressive” Alaskan wolves earlier in the episode, and an ominous howling wolf closed the scene.

Spoiler alert for those who haven’t watched the latest episode yet: Meierotto managed to make it out alive.

The veteran trapper said via telephone Wednesday that while the experience wasn’t pleasant, it also wasn’t quite as perilous as it was portrayed on television.

“I broke down and I had to walk. It was kind of a brutal walk, but, I mean, that happens every year,” Meierotto said.

And the circling wolves?

“Obviously there weren’t any wolves after me,” Meierotto said. “I wish there were. I could’ve got a few on the stretchers.”

Meierotto, who had a rare off day from his summer job as a smoke jumper for the Alaska Fire Service, said he understands “Mountain Men” has to be dramatized a bit for entertainment purposes, but he’s hoping the show is a little more realistic in future episodes.

“If I had that many chances to be dead, I’d be dead already,” Meierotto joked. “I hope they show more about how trapping and living in the woods is cool, and I hope they back off how I’m going to die every two minutes.”

JUST A TRAPPER

Meierotto is an unlikely television star. Aside from living in some of the most remote country in the world, the trapper says he’s anything but a “publicity hound.”

“I’m just a trapper, that’s all,” Meierotto said.

In fact, his initial reaction was to turn down the opportunity to be on “Mountain Men.”

“I wasn’t interested in any goofy reality show, so I didn’t want to get involved in anything like that,” Meierotto said. “I don’t watch TV, but I’ve heard enough and seen enough snippets of those reality shows.”

But the show’s creators convinced Meierotto that “Mountain Men” would be good for the trapping and hunting communities. He was especially encouraged that Warm Springs Productions, the Montana-based production company that filmed the show, had experience in outdoors television with shows like the Sportsman Channel’s “On Your Own Adventures” and the Outdoor Channel’s “Duck Commander.”

After talking with Warm Springs Productions, Meierotto was convinced the show would portray trapping and hunting realistically, something many History Channel viewers undoubtedly have never seen before. While he admits the show won’t likely convert anti-trappers or anti-hunters to favor the outdoor pursuits, he’s hoping “Mountain Men” will help show those who are on the fence or who don’t know much about trapping and hunting to see the positive experiences those pursuits truly offer.

“Even if they do dramatize it a little bit, as long as they show trapping how it is, if you see the real thing, it’s a pretty interesting thing,” Meierotto said. “It’s a study of animals in nature. Nobody is out there because they want to kill a bunch of animals. They’re out there for the whole experience, the whole outdoor experience.”

A NEW CHALLENGE

While Meierotto agreed to be on the show, there were several more hurdles to clear before filming could begin, the biggest being how a camera crew could live and work in remote Alaska.

“That could’ve been a show in itself,” Meierotto said. “There are a lot of challenges. I just have a small cabin in the middle of nowhere. Just setting stuff up was a real pain.”

Fortunately, the cameramen had an outdoors background from their hunting shows so they were accustomed to roughing it in the wild.

“The camera guys were pretty good troopers,” Meierotto said. “They stuck with it.”

But there’s not much you can do to prepare for the Alaskan cold, especially when it comes to camera gear.

“They’d get frustrated sometimes because I don’t think any of them had tried to film in cold like that,” Meierotto said.

The frigid temperatures led to dead batteries, foggy lenses and wear and tear from banging equipment on the back of Meierotto’s spare snowmobile, which the cameramen learned to operate on the trapline.

“I cover a lot of ground. It’s not a matter of just hopping on a snowmachine and driving around,” Meierotto said. “We were always getting stuck.”

And that wasn’t the only trapline delay Meierotto wasn’t accustomed to. After successful sets, the film crew had to stop to record footage.

“We might spend a half hour or 45 minutes filming,” Meierotto said. “It slowed things down. I expected that so that didn’t bother me any.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

Meierotto is waiting to see what the next episodes of “Mountain Men” will reveal, just like the rest of us. He watched the first two episodes as they aired and has only seen some raw footage aside from that.

“I have no idea where the show is going or how they’ll make it look,” Meierotto said.

But he thinks there should be some good episodes ahead.

“We got quite a bit of fur,” Meierotto said. “I think they got some good footage of actual trapping. I hope they use it.”

The crew also filmed his family on a sheep hunt and a caribou hunt.

“I hope it all works out to where trappers think it’s cool,” Meierotto said. “I really don’t care if somebody in New York (City) thinks it’s one way or another. I want it so trappers think it’s cool.”

NEXT EPISODE

“Mountain Men” airs on the History Channel on Thursdays at 9 p.m. Central.

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17 thoughts on “‘Mountain Men’ Star Is ‘Just a Trapper’

  1. Have known Marty and his family for years and visited his trapline many times. His views and opinions are always well founded on experience and his ability. Hopefully the program will listen to him.

  2. I cant tell you how happy I am to see that he took the offer to be in the show, I have wanted to see more of Marty since I seen him in Field and Stream. Thank you again for letting us take a look at A REAL MOUNTAIN MAN.

  3. I’m a trapper, albeit not full time but I think the shows have been cool. Especially Marty’s episodes and the other guy from Montana. I’m not so keen on the guy from N. Carolina they call Eustice yet. I’m thinking he’s a bit of a nutcase.

  4. BTW, Bill Heavey from Field & Stream went up with Marty on his trapline for a week a couple of years ago. I can’t remember what edition of F&S it was in but it was a great article. That was the first I heard of Marty but after reading the article, I was completely amazed. I would like to see more emphasis on trapping in these popular and generalized outdoor publications so people start to understand it more. Field & Stream & Outdoor life, we trappers are in the fields and streams and outdoors too!

  5. I love this show! More importantly, this is one of the first “man shows” my wife actually watches with me and loves it as much and even tapes it for me on the dvd. We just love the entire show so much. It’s so refreshing to see and to remind us of our roots pre-digital garbage in garbage out. We envy these folks for being real humans self-sustaining and living like our American ancestors. My wife’s family was all here from the 17th century, so we find it so educational, challenging, and enlightening, and inspiring as to how we wish we could be self-sufficient like they are.

  6. Good for Marty. I caught a couple episodes recently. He looks the same and is still the same good natured guy from yesteryears. I was Marty’s saw partner when we were both on the Chena Hotshots, and was with him on his first fire jump as a smokejumper. I moved to southern Caifornia and he stayed on the Black River. Hollywood came to him. Marty is doing a good job showing the lower 48 about life in the bush.

  7. Phony show. they portray Marty as kind of an buffoon,; along with Tom who walks around in Grizzly and wolf-infested country without a gun for a $20 shed. His battery goes out and he has zero survival gear in his truck, yet supposedly lives in the wilds of Montan. He wouldn’t last one year like that.

    Useless is a real phony. His “Turtle Island Preserve” rakes in money by the thousands. Anyone who lets an idiot with emotional problems sight in his rifle for him is no Mountain Man.
    Too bad he didnt catch that cameraman, er, I mean Poacher…

    That said, I think Marty make it interesting and appealing to all age groups, portraying trapping andhunting in a positive light..

  8. In the cold of Montana & Alaska what worked 30 minutes ago may not now. Tom Oar’S old truck sitting in
    cold weather not charging the battery. Marty Meierotto having machine break-down just a regular part of the
    life in Alaskan Bush. Try repairing something which worked 30 minutes ago;yet doesnt now in 10-50 below temperature. If I do not have my .375 H&H or .338 Win. Mag. there is a .454 Catscul on my hip,survival equipment on snow machine. Yes machines ,planes,& Huey’s are travel mode–350 miles long walk.
    Did you notice the dress? Multiple layers–warmth & cut the wind—warmth will keep you alive in either of
    these two locations( can you build a fire without gaseline & matches). If not it is time to learn!
    Continue the series A.S.A. P.—home,relatives who live it loved it!!!

  9. I remember Marty as a little kid. His family lived about a mile down the road in NW Wisconsin. I think it’s great that he is trying to make the show more real. Most reality shows have too much manufactured drama.

  10. In last episode, Marty was not very lucky on trapping and only got $4000 for the season, said it was only one third of what he got. But I don’t think $12000 a season can cover such a living with airplane, right? can someone explain it a bit? As Marty agreed, I want to know the reality too.

  11. I spend a lot off time in the bush myself hunting love the out doors . I love the show my favourite. Is Marty and Tom . Tom reminds me of my father . Keep up the great show

  12. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. MOUNTAIN MEN IS A COMEDY SHOW. I LIVE IN NORTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE AND THERE IS NO WAY THAT MARTY WOULD BE ABLE TO START HIS 1960′S VINTAGE SNOWMOBILE WITH HAND PULL IN -10 TO-50 BELOW IN ALASKA AFTER IT SAT OVER NITE BROKE DOWN ON THE TRAIL.”BULLCRAP” ALL STAGED, THE NUMBERS JUST DON’T MEASURE UP WITH OWNING A PLANE, FUEL, MAINTANCE, PARTS, TWO SNOWMOBILES AND THEIR PARTS AND FUEL AND MAINTANCE. $4000.00 WILL NOT COVER IT ,NOT EVEN CLOSE. TOM , YOU BETTER RETIRE, I NEVER LEAVE MY HOME AND COLLECT SHEDS WITHOUT A SIDEARM AND RIFLE, YOUR MEMORY IS GONE, TOM. AND THAT IDIOT LEWIS IN MO PATROLING OVER 200,000 ACERS TO PROTECT CATTLE FROM MOUNTAIN LIONS AND POCHERS IS JUST” BULLCRAP” ON HORSEBACK AND DOGS, ONE MAN ALL THAT AREA, NO WAY. THERE IS NO REALITY IN ANY OF THESE EPISODES NONE ALL FAKE AND STAGED.

    • “THE NUMBERS JUST DON’T MEASURE UP WITH OWNING A PLANE, FUEL, MAINTANCE, PARTS, TWO SNOWMOBILES AND THEIR PARTS AND FUEL AND MAINTANCE. $4000.00 WILL NOT COVER IT ,NOT EVEN CLOSE.” – Greg

      Smokejumping in the summer….. well over $40,000 over a 6 month period. Some people just lack critical thinking skills, he obviously traps for fun. Six months jumping out of planes to fight fire, and six months of trapping, and hunting. Sounds like he has it figured out.

  13. Most people would have a hard time walking 10 miles on a sunny day 50 below zero is a bit to cold
    I think you need to take a look at your family and get a safer job that`s what I think, but it`s up to you
    how you wish to leave this world hopefully there is no worse case and you retire alive GOOD LUCK

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