Even if 'Mountain Men' Isn't Completely Real, We Still Probably Couldn't Survive the Season IRL

Is 'Mountain Men' real? Find out what gets exaggerated on History's survival show and which dangers aren't played up for the cameras.

Rebecca Macatee - Author

Jul. 10 2020, Updated 3:26 p.m. ET

is mountain men real
Source: HISTORY/YouTube

History Channel's Mountain Men is one of the shows we love to watch from the safety and comfort of our couch. The long-running History Channel show follows men and women as they fight to survive through brutally harsh North American winters. 

These reality stars are definitely roughing it in the wilderness, but fans can't help but wonder if some of the danger is exaggerated for the cameras. So is Mountain Men real? Here's what you should know. 

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So is Mountain Men real? 

The stars of Mountain Men are definitely skilled survivalists and not just paid actors playing the part. That said, some of the high-stakes scenes are dramatized for the viewers at home.

In a 2013 interview with the Associated Press (via the Billings Gazette), Tom Oar said that while he's generally happy with the show's portrayal of mountain life, some things are exaggerated. 

"They always have to make it seem more dangerous," Tom explained. "I'm too boring otherwise."

Tom also said the film crew has recreated scenes with grizzly bears and wolves for the cameras. He did actually see these animals, but the crew wasn't around to capture that specific footage, so they shot the animals in a different setting. 

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is mountain men real bear scenes
Source: HISTORY/YouTube

The extreme conditions on Mountain Men are completely real. 

Fighting the cold is a genuine concern for the Mountain Men survivalists and the camera crew following them. Mason Gertz, a cameraman who works on the show, told Men's Journal he "nearly lost part of my hand to frostbite while trying to film a lynx." 

Mason said that if it weren't for Marty Meierotto's help and quick thinking, he'd probably be "missing three fingers."

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is mountain men real marty
Source: HISTORY/YouTube

The cast and crew of Mountain Men also encounter real wildlife. 

Mountain Men's co-creator Chris Richardson told Men's Journal that crew members who follow Rich Lewis, a professional houndsman, have been charged by mountain lions multiple times.  

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"When prospective cameramen start talking about decent hotels and per diems, we know it's not going to work out," he said. "Our guys know how to keep batteries from freezing, lug 50-pound cameras up to 10,000 feet on elk hunts, and make do without electricity for days."

is mountain men real mountain lions
Source: HISTORY/YouTube
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Tom had enough of the harsh conditions fans see on Mountain Men. 

Although Tom still appears in Season 8 of Mountain Men, the original cast member reportedly left Montana and retired to Florida with his wife Nancy in 2019. 

In a 2013 interview with Ocala.com, Tom said, "(Ocala) is a really pretty place, I’m thinking about it, but I’d have to find something to do."

Nancy was impressed with the warmer weather they experienced in Florida. "It’s gorgeous. What a place," she told Ocala.com. "It’s like I’m on a different planet. We’re probably getting snow up there (The Yaak) today. The flowers and the birds are different. I love being home, but this is certainly a treat."

After all that time in Montana, Tom and Nancy probably have a real appreciation for warm, sunny days! Make sure to tune into Mountain Men Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the History Channel. 

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