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History grinds Ax for season three, Ax Men return

By April MacIntyre Dec 27, 2009, 0:00 GMT

History grinds Ax for season three, Ax Men return

History\'s reality buzz saw of "Ax Men," coming back for season three.

What do you get when you combine six competetive crews, the unforgiving weather of the Pacific Northwest to the buggy, Gator infested swamps of Louisiana and Florida?

History's reality buzz saw of "Ax Men," coming back for season three.

The guys are back, up against Mother Nature as season three of the series, which chronicles the lives of rugged timber cutters, returns on Sunday, January 10 at 9pm ET on History.

This season the team spans the country for the first time, literally from one coast to the other, as intrepid loggers from six teams push deeper into densely covered forests during the logging industry’s most dangerous season.

According to History: Teams from Oregon, Washington, Montana, Louisiana and Florida tower higher atop the trees and go deeper into the seas, risking life and limb in pursuit of the timber from which America is built.

For more than a hundred years, the legacy members of logging families go back to the time when the West was being settled – have spent their days among towering trees and powerful machines and their nights in outposts far from the comforts of civilization.

This series retells their stories, the histories of the logging industry and how technology has transformed life for today’s logger, while the struggle of man versus nature stays the same.

The new season is set during the dead heat of summer, with stakes that are higher than ever. In the rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest, industry titan J.M. Browning Logging, reigning champion Rygaard Logging and underdog Pihl Logging vie for the title “King of the Mountain.”

But this year, S&S Aqua Logging heads to Florida in search of new beginnings; R&R Conner Aviation, the Montana-based helicopter logging firm, must find a new ace pilot; and, for the first time, AX MEN wades into the swamps of Louisiana to meet a man unlike any other, Shelby Stanga, and explore the fascinating business of swamp logging.

Danger is a fact of life for all these people. 

Think about it, the tools of the trade include chainsaws, actual sharp axes, and the added fear of lethal snapped cables, lightening fast runaway logs, unpredictable terrain, mercurial weather and even hungry man-eating predators to make their vocation one of the most perilous jobs in America today.

Not to mention ticks, gnarly splinters and neglected manscaping.

Technological advances have made the work easier, at least in theory. But just as it was for their fathers and grandfathers, it’s still a battle for survival – and for some this will be the end of the line.

The 6 crews of season 3 of AX MEN are:

·    J.M. Browning Logging – Operating out of Astoria, Oregon, no-nonsense Jay Browning knows firsthand how dangerous this business can be: he lost his hand in a logging accident and now wears a prosthetic. After losing ground in season 2 to the underdogs at Rygaard, Jay is not taking any chances when it comes to regaining the “King of the Mountain” title. This season, he is taking back control by heading into the woods to cut timber and to push the pace of production, while his son, Jesse Browning, oversees the business side of the company.

·    Rygaard Logging – Based in Port Angeles, Washington, Rygaard Logging is a family business consisting of father Craig and son Gabe. Craig is a wild man with a big heart, a sharp mind and a quick wit. Craig has never been fond of greenhorns (aka rookies) and this season there are two on the crew: David Schroeder and Travis Davis. He’ll have to hold his temper in order to hold the title that Rygaard snatched away from Browning last season, while Gabe, the muscle of the lean and mean operation, is more determined than ever to stay on top of the leader board.

·    Pihl Logging – Pihl Logging has been the lifeblood of Vernonia, Oregon, for almost 25 years, and is owned and operated by Mike Pihl. This company has a group of men who like to trade jibes with each other almost as much as they like to cut timber. In order to be a contender this season, Pihl Logging has taken drastic measures, bringing in Melvin Lardy, a fan favorite from season 1, to whip the crew into shape and amp up production. Meanwhile, Leland Bontranger, the yarder operator displaced by Melvin, is not taking kindly to the change.

·    S&S Aqua Logging – Underwater logger Jimmy Smith is heading east from Aberdeen, Washington to test the waters of Florida. Back home, S&S specialized in recovering century-old, perfectly preserved timber that had been cut by our ancestors but lost in Washington’s waterways along its journey to the mill. Now, Jimmy in teaming up with Collins River Logging to see if White Springs, Florida will prove to be profitable as he faces new perils posed by dark water and nasty gators. And, since he’s working for someone else, he needs to be on top of his game. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s son, James Smith, is a big dreamer who sometimes neglects the details, but will find a chance to shine on new turf with a new boss.

·    R&R Conner Aviation – Based in Montana, R&R Conner Aviation is a family-run helicopter logging company owned and operated by Ryan Conner. Helicopter logging is one of the most dangerous and expensive forms of timber harvesting. The demands of working beneath a thundering helicopter and the severe weather are more than most are equipped to handle. Thus, having an experienced team of pilots, mechanics and ground crew is crucial, which means senior pilot Bart Colantuono will have his hands full with greenhorn fliers Josh, Kevin and Ben.

·    Shelby Stanga – Shelby Stanga of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, has been logging in the swamps north of New Orleans since he was 9. He recovers abandoned logs from nearby waterways with a colorful cast of sidekicks: his dog Piss Willy, his friends Earl and Gary and his cousin David. Shelby is on the hunt for sinker cypress, the gold standard of trees in these parts. But, guarding the treasure are enormous alligators, ill-tempered swamp rats and deadly snakes. The marks covering Shelby’s body – appendages almost lost to gator bites, eye gouged out, head injuries and chronic intestinal pain – are a testament to the job’s dangers.

 



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