Ax Men: Season One
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Ax Men: Season One


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Starts Sunday March 9th

One of the most controversial industries in the modern world is the logging industry. Many groups work against it demanding tighter controls to avoid the stripping of forest not only in the United States but all over the world. While there is an very sever environmental impact logging has the fact remains that there is an ever growing need for lumber, paper and a plethora of other wood related products. Even the flyers used by the eco-friendly groups to protest this industry are made from the very trees they seek to protect. Fortunately most are on recycled paper at least. After the success of series like ‘Ice Road Truckers’ and ‘The Deadliest Catch’, the History Channel is focusing on the men who chop down tress for a living and, of course, a little background on the history of the logging industry. This is done by means of their new series, ‘Ax Men’. Even with all the advances and introduction of modern technology to logging it remains one of the most dangerous occupations around. The combination of sharp, fast moving saws with huge falling trees is something that is a lot different than then dangers most people face at work. There has always been a mysterious edge surrounding lumberjacks. They are the epitome of masculinity with most women wanting them and many men wishing they could be them. Now the History Channel takes you right into the lumber camps and follows a group of these men as they go about their day at work. It is easy to set at home and live vicariously through this series but imagine what it must be like to actually do it every working day. The History Channel is going all out with this series. Besides the televised series there is a wealth of information on their web site for the show. It details the tools of the trade, inherent dangers and the backgrounds of the men at work. The technology has changed a lot over the last century but the eternal battle between man and nature remains the same. This show will certainly change your perspective next time you look at a two by four or even a pencil. The series follows four different work crews based in the rich forest of Oregon.

PIHL Logging

This company has been based in Vernonia, Oregon for over a quarter of a century. The entire town of over 2,300 people depends on this company in one way or another. The owner Mike Pihl has been in the business all of his adult life. His staff is rough and ready; joking with each other in the off hours but getting down to business each working day. Mike’s son-in-law Kelly is currently in training to one day take over when Mike is ready to retire. One of the most productive members of the crew is Dwayne Dethlefs, a veteran of three decades cutting trees. This is a family endeavor for Dwayne as well as he works along side his son Dustin. In the woods the last word is that of the site boss Todd Cutright, an apt name for a boss logger. All of the men are helping a new comer, Cody Davis, learn the tricks of the trade.

J.M. Browning Logging

This crew operates out of Astoria, Oregon. Head by owner Jay Browning he runs a tight crew that is all business. Jay knows the dangers of the job having lost his hand in an accident some time ago. He may wear a prosthetic hand now but he outright refuses to cash any of the workman’s compensation checks. He still works and works hard at that. For the last seven years Jay has been joined on the job by his son Jesse. Someday he hopes to take over the family business. While he was laid up with his injury he purchased a new Harley Davidson over the phone. He rides with the assistance of a special prosthetic hand made just for the demands of riding.

Stump Branch Logging

This company has been logging the great woods of Oregon for some thirty two years. The owner Melvin Lardy is another life long logger whose entire life revolves around his chosen profession. In the series Melvin has just gotten a huge contract that could set his company up very well. He is more of an old school logger. His tools of the trade are rusted and prone to stop without notice. Besides his seasoned crew there is the greenhorn, Michael. He grew up around the man he is currently working with but on the site that counts for very little. He has to pull his own weight and learn as quickly as possible.

Gustafson Logging

Owned and operated by the acclaimed superman of the logging world, Darrell Holthusen. His is the biggest logging company in Astoria, Oregon requiring Darrell to oversee multiple jobs sites simultaneously. He is shown as a man with outside interests that include coaching pee-wee football for underprivileged children. For Darrell the measure of the success of a job is not only the lumber pulled in but having every man return each night unharmed. The series shows their latest job aptly referred to as ‘The Challenge’. This job is on some of the steepest and most difficult terrain in the state, perhaps in the world. In charge as the on site supervisor is the relatively new Robby Motsinger. He has to earn Darrell’s respect by taming ‘The Challenge’.

As always the History Channel takes a subject that most of us don’t consider and brings it to a weekly series. This one has its own measure of excitement built in. the dangers these men face on a regular basis is simply incredible. Doe many men in this country the worse they ever faced from a piece of wood is a splinter. These men literally risk life and limb to supply the world with lumber. The series does go into the many changes that have happened over the decades for this industry. From the simple two headed ax to the modern chain saws and tree chopping machines these man may have mechanics on their side but the job remains arduous. Even if you are on the side of the ecologically aware you have to respect the men that bring these products to us. Mostly this job is a family affair. Most of the men are doing what they fathers and grandfathers have done and will hopefully see their own sons and grandsons take their place in the tree tops. This is one reality show that is worth watching.

Posted 02/28/08

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