We, dear reader, are just not cut out to be mountain men. While you and I are surfing the web and catching up on TV shows, Eustace, Tom and Marty of History's Mountain Men are hundreds of feet above us, facing the perils of nature in a simple quest to survive.
The series premiere kicks things off with a healthy portion of meat gore, as Appalachian mountain man Eustace unflinchingly hacks off half of a deer's face and feeds it to his dog. He has a small community of assistants, and together they face bad weather and predators in their quest to stay fed.
Tom, meanwhile, is in his own perpetual struggle with nature off in Montana. He, his wife, and his neighbors are threatened by an exploding grizzly bear population; the bears occasionally attack humans, but are especially menacing to dogs. When Tom's dog Ellie goes missing, he's understandably concerned--fortunately, they soon find her safe and sound.
Marty, self-described "ugliest son-of-a-bitch alive," rounds out the mountaintop trio up in Alaska. Marty is a pilot, and the bulk of his conflict involves his annual flight into the untouched Alaskan wilderness. Each year he leaves his wife and daughter behind to face the brutal cold in his own small, personal cabin. Heat is his biggest concern, meaning that he must spend much of his time chopping timber.
Preparing for Winter
While Marty welcomes a grudge match with the cold, Eustace and Tom must diligently gather food for winter. Eustace prepares for the Appalachian winter by planting crops in a horse-drawn tractor, and later building his own hunting blinds with his assistant Justin.
Tom, meanwhile, continues to deal with the Montana grizzly menace. He and his neighbor Bill are forced to go hunting in bear country, facing heightened danger in their search for winter provisions.
To Be Continued
The hour ends on a sentimental note, as Marty sets up his own improvised radio tower so that he can pick up a message from his wife back home. And with that, Mountain Men concludes its first episode.
While there isn't much in the way of structured conflict or resolution, that's not really the point of a show like this: Eustace, Tom and Marty live simply and sustainably, and the show matches their slow, challenge-by-challenge lifestyle. While some of the premiere's sequences were conspicuously edited for maximum drama--the dog running away and coming back twice, for example--the show is by and large a compelling look at three similar but distinct alternative lifestyles.