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Series / Ax Men

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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.

It quickly fell into Docusoap territory. The series went on hiatus in 2016 after nine seasons, but a tenth premiered in July 2019.

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.
  • 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 (pre-overhaul) jet boat.
    • For season 6, there's Wisconsin Woodchuck's questionable crane.
    • "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.
  • 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.
  • Catchphrase: "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.
    • Billy Ray Smith, owner of Buckin' Billy Ray's Tree Service (season 10), frequently uses vintage chainsaws to cut down trees that pose a danger to private houses. He climbs the trees and cuts them from the top down.
    • 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.
    • Random bits of tree (or, sometimes, an entire tree) hanging by hair triggers in the branches of other trees (Widowmakers and Hangers).
    • Tangles of logs and branches that can spring every which way once they reach the landing (Chaser Erasers), and logs/trees that split along their length while being cut and snap up to injure a person (Barber Chairs).
    • Starting in season 3, water-borne hazards such as alligators, poisonous snakes, and underwater fishing nets.
    • Thanks to steep, rocky mountainside logging sites, falling boulders and stumps - and even logs, if they slip out of the cables cinched onto them while being moved.
    • Not to mention the hazards produced by the machines: dropped skyline carriages, snapped cables, pinned/crushed arms and legs...
  • 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.
  • Old Soldier: Old logger technically, but it is still a dangerous and physically demanding line of work.
    • Craig Rygaard may be over 60 but quickly recovers from being knocked over by a swinging loader. Even after he gets his leg crushed by the mechanism at the end of Season 8, he helps Gabe during the following season from time to time.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Retired Badass: Dwayne Dethlefs, one of Pihl's best cutters. He quits in Season 2 and spends a few years in retirement, but returns in Season 10 to help the crew start a new job.
  • 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.
    • Shelby, David Zitterkopf, and Gary and Eddie resort to various explosives to blow up stumps or free sunken logs from heavy mud and undergrowth.
  • 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.