This past Sunday night started the new reality series on History Channel called Ax Men. This series follows the trials and tribulations of five logging companies as they pine for “green gold” on the Oregon cost – an environmentalist worst nightmare.
As an avid fan of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, I thought I would give this show a shot. The first episode introduces us to four small timber companies – Browning Logging, Gustafson Logging, Stump Branch Logging, and Pihl Logging as they pull timber from some of the treacherous mountain tops on the Pacific Coast. Like the Deadliest catch, time and the elements are adversaries these loggers face as they try to earn a good day’s living.
Each of these companies comes with their own cast of characters, logging philosophies, challenges, and short-term goals. Not too different from the crews of the crab boats on the Deadliest Catch except the loggers lack the personality of the fisherman – Capt Phil, Sig, Blake Painter to name a few. I know it was just the first show, but I just was not able to connect with loggers like I can with the Deadliest Catch cast.
Similar to the Deadliest Catch, the cinematography is excellent. The producers are able to capture the danger the loggers are facing while presenting the beauty of the environment the loggers are working in. To my surprise, danger lurks around every corner when logging on the mountain. I knew it was dangerous working with chainsaws and axes, but I had know idea the inclines these guys are working on, the weather conditions, and the heavy equipment they are using that can take a man’s life in a moment’s notice.
Oh don’t forget the two-ton logs that are being pulled up the mountain by temporary sky lifts are also death traps waiting to happen. To give you an idea, a sky lift is a wire that stretched from the top of a crane called a Yarder to the bottom of the ridge. This wire has a unit that attaches to a fresh cut tree and pulls it up to the top of the ridge to be loaded on trucks. This is an amazing operation and my description does not do it justice.
For the most part Ax Men was quite entertaining and helped break the stereotype that all lumberjacks wear knit caps and flannel shirts. Ax Men is basically a poor man’s version of the Deadliest Catch. If you had nothing else on Sunday evening at 10 PM EST to watch, then go for it, but I would not go out of my way to make this part of a weekly stable of shows to watch like I do for the Deadliest Catch.