via press release:
AX MEN returns Sunday, December 12 at 9pm ET on HISTORY
From the steamy swamps of the south to the remote wilds of Alaska, the stakes are higher – and the dangers more life-threatening than ever – for loggers in season four of… AX MEN Returning Sunday, December 12 at 9PM ET on HISTORY(R)
Treacherous Working Conditions Pit Man (and Woman) Against Nature – and Each Other – in the Original Logging Series
New York – The intrepid AX MEN are back, with three new crews and five returning favorites, risking their lives in an all-new race to be “King of the Mountain.” Season four of the acclaimed series premieres Sunday, December 12 at 9pm ET on HISTORY.
Falling trees, bone-crushing equipment, human error, freak accidents, hungry predators, brutal forces of nature… it’s all in a day’s work for generations of loggers who have jeopardized their lives to provide America with the timber it needs. And, while technology may have changed the logging industry over the years, the work today is as life-threatening as ever.
This season, the AX MEN face off on the biggest playing field yet, from the rugged reaches of Alaska to the deadly depths of Florida and Louisiana’s swamp. Father-and-son team Gabe and Craig Rygaard return to battle their nemesis, reigning “King of the mountain” J.M. Browning. But this year, the crews from Washington and Oregon have more than each other to worry about – there’s been a changing of the guard at Pihl Logging as Leah Proctor, a female greenhorn, is brought on to keep the men on their toes.
Newcomers Papac Logging of Alaska and Lemare Logging of British Columbia are also throwing their hats into the ring. These companies specialize in conquering the rugged Pacific wilderness, as far removed from civilization as one can get. They scoff at how easy the guys in the “Lower 48” have it and would like nothing better than to show them how the “big boys get it done.”
Each morning, Papac crews load into boats that take them across miles of the roughest water in Alaska. On the other end is Suemez Island, one of the most difficult jobs Papac has ever attempted. The men of Papac are the Lewis’s & Clarks of this land, and they are the first to step foot in some of these areas and must be prepared for everything from black bears and sudden storms to some of the biggest and most unpredictable timber in our country.
Down south, “Swampman” Shelby Stanga is back and his sights are set on the biggest logs in the Louisiana bayous. But to claim them, he’ll need help from a crew of sidekicks as colorful as he is. In Florida, James Smith and the S&S Aqua/Collins crew return to do battle on the Suwannee River. Rounding out the water logging crews is newcomer Olson Marine, a unique tugboat operation in Alaska that transports millions of dollars in timber through hundreds of miles of the most violent waters and unpredictable weather in the world.
For more than a hundred years, larger than life characters, many of whom are members of logging families who 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. AX MEN tells the remarkable story, detailing the history 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 eight crews of season 4 of AX MEN are:
Rygaard Logging – Rygaard was known for making a little go a long way, running old equipment and taking the jobs that no one else wants. Now, owner Gabe Rygaard has invested everything he has into giving this old-school company a makeover with the biggest and best machinery on the mountain. Still smarting from last year’s three-load loss to rival J.M. Browning, Rygaard is eager for another shot. But this season the crew finds itself in unchartered territory, on one of Washington’s most treacherous mountains, trying the ultra dangerous practice of downhill logging. Outspoken but lovable Craig Rygaard returns, along with greenhorn Dave Schroder, now a permanent member of the team. But Dave’s notorious screw-ups are still plaguing him… and Craig’s had enough.
Pihl Logging – Pihl Logging has sought redemption for the last three years and failed to find it each time. Now, boss Mike Pihl is looking to put an end to the losing streak with two major moves: put son-in-law Kelly Baska in charge of keeping this unruly crew in line, and, bringing in a new greenhorn to keep them all on their toes – Leah Proctor. Leah has an uphill battle winning over this cantankerous crew, but the former forest fire fighter knows the stereotype she’s up against. The old gang is back – including crusty yarder operator Leland Bontrager and a few new rigging slingers with strong opinions and little tact. The crew will have to get it together if they’re going to conquer the job sites. This season, there’s a new mandate at Pihl: leave the drama at the door.
J.M. Browning Logging – Browning Logging known for hiring the best men, putting them to work on the best equipment, and expecting miracles in return. Owner Jay Browning has built his empire over decades of hard work and personal sacrifice. This season, Browning is out to tackle the jobs its competitors can’t or won’t. Jesse Browning returns to lead the team and finally prove to his father that he has what it takes to follow in Jay’s footsteps. But, with nearly impossible expectations to meet and personal tragedy to overcome, this season will push Jesse to his breaking point like never before.
S&S Aqua Logging/Collins River Logging – Last year, Jimmy Smith and son James left Washington for Florida, where they partnered with river logger Joe Collins and team. The target: hundreds of sunken logs perfectly cured in the murky waters of the Suwannee River. But, turning a profit proved difficult, especially when a 10-foot alligator made Jimmy its target. After months of setbacks and disappointment, Jimmy returned to Washington without his son, who decided to stay behind and take a job on the Collins crew. Now, James is well on his way to becoming one of Collins’ top divers, and Jimmy’s coming back for his son and redemption.
Papac – Papac Logging is a no frills, rough-and-tumble timber outfit based in Alaska. After logging for years with his father in Washington, Mike Papac branched out on his own, taking half of his dad’s men with him. Papac men are tough and smart, and they won’t take no for an answer. Each morning, crews load into boats that take them across miles of the roughest water in Alaska, bound for the remote primordial forests of Suemez Island.
Lemare – A massive logging company in Vancouver Island, B.C., Lemare’s 400 workers turn out billions of dollars in virgin-growth green gold every year. Owner Eric Dutcyvich isn’t interested in logging the same way his father and grandfather did – he’s a well-educated man with an advanced business degree and a sharp intellect. But with more than 50% of his employees nearing retirement, Eric must bring the next generation of loggers up to speed. Lemere’s new training academy is the chance of a lifetime for its brightest young men to prove that they are ready to rise to positions of power within the company. This season, careers will be made, lives will be changed, and a new generation will learn that logging isn’t just running around in the woods – it’s outsmarting the competition.
Olson – One of the last remaining tug boat logging companies in America, Alaska-based Olson is a family-run business with a fleet of barges and tugboats capable of hauling thousands of tons of timber through a maze of jagged islands, strong currents, hidden deadheads, and violent weather. Captain Rodney Wills leads Olson’s top crew and its tug, the Avery O, in stints up to three months at a time, and they all have harrowing stories to prove it. This season Rodney will meet the most explosive greenhorn in AX MEN history, Dustin Timber Dethlefs, who’s back for another go. Rodney’s a tough man to please, and Dustin will have to keep his ego in check to survive.
Shelby Stanga – Shelby has lived and logged in the swamps north of New Orleans since he was nine years old. He grew up eating swamp rats and wrestling alligators, and speaks in a Cajun accent that only his dog Willy understands. It’s a well-known fact that “Swampman” doesn’t work well with others. But now, his huge winch is in need of thousands of dollars in repairs, and he’s eyeing the biggest logs in the swamp to turn the biggest profit. For the first time in his life, he has no choice but to find help. Shelby is putting all of his friends to work, from a childhood buddy-turned-alligator-wrestler to his long lost wife, and even his log buyer. If he’s lucky, Shelby will find both an assistant and a way to save his crumbling empire before the swamp bites back.
AX MEN is produced for HISTORY by Original Productions. Executive producers for HISTORY are David McKillop and Russ McCarroll. Executive producers for Original Productions are Thom Beers and Philip Segal.
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