If you haven’t had the pleasure of viewing Mountain Monsters yet, do yourself a favor and sit down and watch an episode. Is it a good show? No technically speaking. But you can tell that they guys behind it are trying their hardest, and the personalities of the different team members are pretty fun to watch. It’s one of those shows that’s so bizarrely bad that it’s a complete hoot to watch (especially with friends).
Capitalizing on the “monster hunter” trend of early 2010s reality TV, Destination America came up with Mountain Monsters; a show that follows a group of paranormal investigators out in the Appalachian area of the United States. The team, known as AIMS (Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings), uses their skills as backwoods trackers, hunters, and survivalists hunt down any and all real-life monsters who might be lurking up in the mountains.
The team often has close encounters with Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Chupacabras, giant hogs, and many other creatures that go bump in the night. The exploits of “Trapper” John Tice, Buck, Huckleberry, Jeff, Willy, and Wild Bill have entertained audiences for almost four years now and has become Destination America’s biggest show. However, Mountain Monsters has just as many skeletons in its closet as there are monsters lurking out in the Appalachians.
Here are 15 Dark Secrets You Didn’t Know About Mountain Monsters.
15. The Team Caught the Wrong Hogzilla
In the 12th episode of the show’s second season, the AIMS team set out to find a different type of creature; in episodes past they had been hunting Sasquatches and giant dogs and cave creatures, but now they set their sights on the legendary “Hogzilla” of Ohio. Legend said that an enormous pig was seen in the area, and AIMS wanted to get to the bottom of it.
At the episode’s climax, the team sets up a trap and seemingly catches the infamous Hogzilla. There’s only one problem…”Hogzilla” was shot and killed by a local boy all the way back in 2005 (in Georgia). What the men of Mountain Monsters caught was just your run of the mill pig that was played up for size with some camera trickery and clever editing.
14. Feud with Finding Bigfoot
Surprisingly, people take their cryptozoology shows very seriously. The TV shows that come out based on paranormal and cryptozoological studies generally fall into one of two categories: they are either presented as a serious scientific show, or as a hilariously fake form of entertainment.
This divide was the cause of an ongoing Twitter feud between the Finding Bigfoot team and the Mountain Monsters team. Back in 2015, one of the Bigfoot team members claimed that the entirety of Mountain Monsters was fake, to which Trapper responded by calling their show “losing Bigfoot.”
13. On the verge of cancellation for years
The season finale of Mountain Monsters season four is still to this day Destination America’s most-watched episode in their entire history! And yet, whenever each season ends and the crew goes back to their normal lives, fans are left wondering if they will ever see their favorite monster hunters again.
Why? Because the show is constantly on the verge of cancellation. The novelty of the series apparently wore off after season two, when ratings plummeted. Destination America tried to fix this dilemma by “theming” the next season to have them tracking Bigfoots. When that didn’t work, they reluctantly returned to their original format for season four.
Season five did a complete 180, and leapt into a full-on “Dark Forest” storyline. Fans hated this new direction, and as a result we are still awaiting word on if the show will be picked up for a season six.
12. Trapper’s severe medical emergency
John Tice, better known to fans of the show as “Trapper,” is the heart and soul of the Mountain Monsters team. Tice has been dealing with paranormal phenomenon for decades. He was told local legends by his father growing up, and his time serving in Vietnam gave him the survivalist and tracking skills he needs for this type of job.
At the end of the first episode of season four, the audience was given a shocking revelation: Trapper had a health scare and the team fears that he might not make it. Come to find out, Tice had a blood clot in his leg that required an emergency operation that didn’t go so well. Though he made a triumphant return to the show later in the season, he had to watch from the sidelines for some time while he recovered.
11. Trapper was rumored to be dead
The news of Trapper’s health scare was delivered to fans in the most ominous way possible: At the end of one of the episodes, while the credits are rolling, Buck appears in a cell phone video saying, “It’s 4 in the morning, and Trapper’s headed to the hospital. We don’t know if he’s gonna make it” before the screen goes black.
Fans completely freaked out and (in the span of the week between episodes) began to spread the rumor that Trapper had died. Discovery had to go into full-on PR mode, and released a statement saying that though Tice would be laid up for a while, he was still alive and in good health. The next episode of the show featured the AIMS team visiting Trapper in the hospital, where he gave them advice on how to track their current monster of the week.
10. The show is basically Scooby-Doo but the monsters always win
Speaking of “Monsters of the Week”, have you ever noticed that an episode of Mountain Monsters plays out just like an episode of Scooby-Doo? Try as they might to keep the format fresh or to make the show seem like a “reality” series by creating an ongoing story for the season to follow, the guys at AIMS always end up tracking down that one monster who just so happens to be residing in whatever town they’re in.
Think about it: the team goes to a town that’s being terrorized by a monster. They interview the locals and gather clues as to where it might be. They go out at night with their high-tech equipment to try and trap the creature, which often leads to a scary (and hilarious) encounter. Only in this version of Scooby-Doo, the bad guys always end up getting away from those meddling kids!
9. AIMS’ website isn’t run by the team (and might be fake)
As with most reality shows nowadays, it’s hard to tell which elements of Mountain Monsters are real and which ones are fake. Well, maybe at least behind the scenes, that is! Whether or not you think the show is real, Destination America has definitely gone all out with its promotion; you can find bios of all the team members on their page as well as a link to the AIMS website.
However, a little investigative research shows that the AIMS team isn’t running their website at all. When you look up the public records of who owns the domain name, it says that a company out of Arizona is the one behind the AIMS page. Now, Mountain Men takes place in West Virginia. Discovery Communications, on the other hand, has a division in Phoenix. Is the AIMS website (and entire organization) just a marketing ploy?
8. Most of the team didn’t know each other beforehand
It’s hard to imaging the AIMS team any different than it is today. Each member has their own distinct personality and have great chemistry with each other. Buck is the young gun of the group who has no experience but a big heart. Trapper is the wise old leader. Wild Bill is the tough-as-nails ex-Marine who takes no nonsense from anyone. Each member of AIMS has a special place in fans’ hearts.
But when it first started out, the team was only three in number. Trapper, Jeff, and Willy were the only ones who knew each other beforehand; Wild Bill, Buck, and Huckleberry were all newbies around the time Mountain Monsters began and (though they had prior experience in the paranormal) had never met each other nor the AIMS team before.
7. The show only pretends to travel to other states besides West Virginia
In the first few seasons of this TV series the AIMS team tried to stay local, hunting monsters in their home state of West Virginia and surrounding states like Ohio and Kentucky. As the series got more popular and producers looked to stretch seasons to longer lengths, they decided to expand their horizons and have the team investigate creatures from all over the South and Midwest.
Want to know a secret? The team still never leaves West Virginia. At the end of each episode (including ones that take place in Pennsylvania or North Carolina or Kentucky) there is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bit of text that says something along the lines of “footage filmed in West Virginia.” We don’t know what’s worse: the lie, or the way they blatantly hide it in plain sight?
6. The show is heavily scripted
Mountain Monsters started off as your run of the mill monster hunting reality shows; in the early days the team would be lucky to find a piece of hair or hear a Bigfoot return their call during their night investigations. As the show went on, the members of AIMS were suddenly coming face to face with the creatures, including the time where Huckleberry was seemingly hypnotized by the legendary Mothman.
If that didn’t give it away, we don’t know what else will! Though Mountain Monsters‘ scripting got more and more blatant as the show went on, season five was the worst offender; it saw AIMS competing against the “Rogue Team” as they journeyed into what is known as the “Dark Forest.” Each episode played off the last and the entire season played out as an overarching story. Yet, Destination America held to the claim that all of it is real!
5. Rumors that two of the members are actors
As we’ve already, only three members of the Mountain Monsters cast were familiar with each other when the show started. The three “new” members of the team that were hired after all fit a certain niche the originals were lacking, forming AIMS into a well-rounded team of overused tropes.
This has led some to believe that Buck, Huckleberry, and Wild Bill are all just actors who were hired for the show. One particularly important piece of evidence is that Jacob Lowe (“Buck” on the show) has another acting credit to his name: an independent documentary about the Anthony Porter murder investigation. Is this proof that he’s just an actor playing the wide-eyed foil to the grumpy old men of the group?
4. They probably shot an innocent bear thinking it was a monster
The Mountain Monsters crew has seen quite a bit in their day. The team has encountered Bigfoot-like creatures on multiple occasions, Huckleberry has been possessed by the Mothman, and Trapper gets attacked by a “Wildman” at one point. But one of the more bizarre creatures the AIMS crew has faced has to be the Bear Beast of (where else?) West Virginia.
In a season two episode, the team has a run-in with the Bear Beast and ends up taking a shot at him. They track the creature to the river, where they see a trail of blood filled with bubbles (they hit it in the lungs and it is most likely going to die). A body of the 1500 lbs creature was never found, but the blood was real. This means that the guys probably shot and killed an innocent bear during their escapades.
3. It’s actually a Discovery Channel show
A large part of the allure of Mountain Monsters is that it is a small-time reality show that airs on a tiny network. Most people have never heard of Destination America, but it is quite fitting to have the show about a rag-tag team of good ‘ol backwoods boys air on a lesser-known channel. If it was on a larger network, chances are they would make it more appealing to general audiences and thus change everything that makes it so much fun.
We hate to break it to you, but Mountain Monsters is owned by the Discovery Communications, which is the same company that owns Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel, and TLC. Though the show airs on a “backwoods” network, its roots are more in the mainstream media than it tries to lead us to believe.
2. Mountain Monsters increased its following thanks to Rooster Teeth
For the first few seasons of the show, Mountain Monsters flew under the radar. It wasn’t a smash hit, but it garnered enough of a following that it kept getting renewed for another season. Destination America was airing a bunch of different paranormal reality shows at the time, which didn’t help the series’ ratings at all.
Then, in 2015, the famous internet production company Rooster Teeth did a podcast entitled “Off Topic: Mountain Monsters” in which one of the presenters spends a good three minutes talking about the show. They then created a Machinima of his description using the models from GTA; the result was a viral video that in turn brought viewers to the show just to see how ridiculous it is. Whether or not this had any long-lasting effects is to be seen, but there was definitely a spike in ratings around the time of the podcast’s release.
1. Most of their “Monster Encounters” are faked
We realize that this probably comes as a shock to absolutely none of you. But it needs to be said anyways! As the series has progressed, the encounters between the AIMS team and the monsters they track have become more and more unbelievable and campy. It’s not uncommon for Buck to see the face of a Sasquatch or for Huckleberry to get possessed by an otherworldly entity.
Nowadays the show will put the monsters in front of the camera, and tries to fool us into believing it’s real with an elaborate puppet, CGI masked in darkness, or creative camera angles. It’s downright laughable how obviously fake these encounters have become. Sometimes the producers don’t even try to hide the fact they’re faking it, like the time they used headlights on a vehicle to simulate the glow of the Mothman’s eyes. Shame on you, Mountain Monsters…
What secrets from Mountain Monsters do you have to share? Let us know in the comments!
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