Series: Ax Men


A Reality TV show airing in The History Channel, starting in 2008. Tells the story of several different logging crews struggling to fell trees and ship them off to sawmills and other buyers. Originally set in Washington and Oregon, it has since expanded into other parts of North America, including Alaska, Montana, Southwestern Canada, and the swamps and rivers of Florida and Louisiana.

Quickly fell into Docusoap territory.

Tropes featured on this series:

  • Adult Child:
    • For a man his age, Shelby Stanga often acts like a child of 5 to 7.
    • The Rygaards have thrown tantrums that would make a 4 year old proud.
  • Alaska: Starting with season 4, Papac Alaska Logging operates on the islands of Southeast Alaska.
  • The Alleged Car: Numerous examples of questionable machines. Some standout examples:
    • S&S Aqua Logging's various logging boats.
    • Shelby's forklift, the log dog, or his jet boat.
    • For season 6, there's Wisconsin Woodchuck's questionable crane.
  • Captain Existence Failure: Jimmy Smith lost his battle with cancer and died shortly after the filming of season 6 finished.
  • Bad Ass Grandpa:
    • Craig Rygaard may be over 60 but quickly recovers from being knocked over by a swinging loader.
    • J. M. Browning is in his 70's(?) but until the end of season 4, he was still actively logging. Most of one hand was ripped off in an accident years earlier, but he designed a prosthesis that allowed him to use a chainsaw.
  • Camera Abuse: Cameras are routinely bashed and have trees and/or branches dropped on them or are otherwise mistreated and trashed. Camera operators have been shown catching some of the periphery of this as well.
  • Canada, Eh?: Season 4, 6, and 8 feature crews working on job sites in British Columbia.
  • Catch Phrase: "Here we go!" (Shelby)
  • Chainsaw Good: Time is money, so a chainsaw is the only timely and cost-effective way to fell trees, remove branches, or cut logs to length.
    • Averted in Season 6. Joe and Coatsy, two Papac crew members, have to cut down 10 acres of beetle-infested trees by hand because they're so dry that any sparks from a chainsaw could set them on fire.
  • Cool Airship: A strange example. In seasons 2 and 3, R & R Conner Aviation from Conner, MT and their UH1 Huey helicopter, flying logs from the woods to the landing down near the road.
  • Cool Car: After Gabe Rygaard accidentally flattens the SUV belonging to one of his employees, (Dave Schroeder) he loans the guy his late model Mustang for the evening so he can go on a date.
    Dave: "I'm getting laid tonight."
  • Determinator: These guys are tough.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Several. Some worse than others. Especially the S&S Aqua Logging crew.
    • The Rygaards aren't much better, just that they seem to have realized how much they actually despise each other and thus limit their interaction.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You:
    • Multi-ton logs being dragged up and down steep hillsides and random bits of tree hanging by hair triggers in the branches of other trees (Widowmakers).
    • Starting in season 3, alligators and poisonous snakes.
    • Thanks to steep, rocky mountainside logging sites, falling boulders.
    • Not to mention the hazards produced by the machines...
  • Handicapped Badass: J. M. Browning lost most of one hand in an accident with a pulley. He just straps on a prosthetic and keeps on felling trees.
  • Injury Tropes:
    • These (mostly) men are working in the logging industry. Second only to offshore fishing on OSHA's list of most hazardous jobs in the United States. Injuries are a given.
    • One logger, DJ Jeremiah, finished one season with a full set of teeth only to start the next season missing 2 to 4 front teeth due to an off-season fishing accident.
  • Jitter Cam: Small Point Of View cameras attached to various objects that tend to be either highly mobile (chainsaws) or are supposed to be very stable (yarder towers) but aren't.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In S8 Ep 12, Dave "Kraken" Stone's logging boat captain is driving her boat and its logs upriver when she encounters a pair of teenagers in a rowboat anchored in their favorite spot, blocking the only navigable channel and insisting that they will be there until dark. After she finishes with being polite, Dave and Swilly (who had been diving for logs on the opposite side of the shoal) sneak up on the distracted young idiots and tip them into the river.
  • More Dakka: Shelby Stanga.
    • His answer to dangerous critters in the swamp.
    • Shelby's default celebration mode.
    • Also one of Shelby's buddies in the swamp with an AK47 one day.
  • Mundane Utility: Shelby using his long-barreled revolver as a lever to help fell a tree.
    • The Dreadknots guys fire a revolver into the water and listen for differences in the echoing reports to find logs. They call it "redneck sonar."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Shelby Stanga and his swamp buggy... thing, driving over his own trailer, where he kept some of his tools.
  • No Indoor Voice: Jimmy Smith of S&S Aqua Logging tends to do a lot of screaming. His son, James is shown to be fed up with it.
  • Pie in the Face: In Season 6, Craig Rygaard reconciles with the crew and especially with recently re-hired rigger, Dave Schroeder, using some lemon meringue humble pie.
    • At least Dave was able to see the humor.
  • Rant Inducing Slight: At least once an episode for most of the crews. Pretty much once per scene for S&S Aqua Logging.
    • One of the most memorable is probably the absolute tantrum Gabe Rygaard threw when he discovered one of the chainsaws had been broken. While it was an expensive piece of equipment, he literally behaved like a small child throwing a fit. Still probably doesn't measure up to his father at one point getting a relatively minor bit of bad news over the phone, then throwing his cellphone on the ground, getting out his gun, and shooting the phone repeatedly.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Bosses and crew members alike have done this time and again, for a variety of reasons. Craig Rygaard pulls a surprise one on his crew late in Season 6, announcing that he plans to quit the logging business at the end of the season.
  • Spin-Off: The Legend Of Shelby The Swamp Man: For a preliminary list of tropes, see all of the tropes that apply to Shelby Stanga.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: How some Canadian and Alaskan loggers fell trees and build roads into the woods.
  • Team Pet: Shelby's dog, Willy.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: There are several father-son teams on this series and it is played straight from time to time. It's usually inverted. Mostly by Jimmy Smith of the S&S Aqua Logging crew.
  • What a Piece of Junk:
    • Rygaard's Green Bean yarder.
    • "Logzilla," the boat the S&S crew used in Seasons 3 through 6. When Dave "Kraken" Stone strikes out on his own in Season 7 using this boat, it gives him no end of problems and eventually sinks under the weight of the enormous logs he's pulled up.