Tom Oar is an American former rodeo rider, craftsman and TV personality born in 1943 in Rockfort, Illinois, USA. He is known as a star of the History channel’s reality show “Mountain Man”.
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Deeply influenced by their rider father, Chike Oar, Tom and his brother Jack spent their childhood outdoors, roaming freely in the small town they lived near Rock River: ‘When my brother and I were 7 years old, my father taught us how to ride, that is to do tricks on the back of a running horse’.
Used to rough environments and lifestyle, Tom’s acquired taste for adrenaline led him to become a rodeo rider when he was 15 years old.
Despite it being a dangerous business, his mother supported his decision: “My mother drove me to the outskirts of town, dropped me off with my bull rope and my rigging bag, and I hitchhiked to Ohio, and I hired him to ride bulls.” and ride a buck. horses’.
Tom Oar devoted his adulthood to a rodeo career, riding bulls and bucking horses for 18 and 25 years respectively. In an interview with American CowboyTom recalls joining the International Rodeo Association (IRA), an organization in which he climbed the ranks to become one of the top ten riders: “I worked on the saddle bronc riding and the bull riding.
In 1961 we had to make a choice whether to go to IRA or RCA (Real Cowboy Association) rodeos. There were more IRA rodeos in the Midwest and East, so I was a member of the IRA for 16 or 17 years. It was a nice life.’
On February 14, 1978, Tom’s luck ended when his hand got caught in the rope that set him down to bully Woolly Bugger. This was Tom’s closest encounter with death, as his body was tossed violently by the enraged animal for two minutes. He remained unconscious for three hours, but even the concussion he sustained from the near-fatal encounter did not prevent his return to the arena a month later.
However, his success in rodeo riding was never the same; six years later Tom rode his last saddle bronc, but at the age of 41: ‘It was time for me to stop, you know, so I did’.
Life in Montana
During his time as a rodeo rider, Tom and his wife Nancy regularly visited friends’ homes in Troy, Montana. They were already used to the lifestyle of the region and decided to move there when Tom’s career in the arena ended: “There came a point in our lives when we thought most of the rodeo was over, and we wanted to go to Montana.” move and build a log cabin. . So we bought a chainsaw in Illinois to build a house with when we got here. We bought an acre and a small two-room log cabin and lived there while we built the house. It took us five years to build it. We’ve lived here for 34 years now.’
The couple’s first year living in Yaak River was the toughest, as they faced extreme cold temperatures and had to travel 50 miles (80 km) to run errands. However, she found a way to support themselves hunting and ‘living off the land’ at their home in Kootenai National Forest.
Hunting and craftsmanship
Tom Oar describes himself as a man ‘born 150 or 200 years late’: ‘I was always thinking about the past and history. I relived it a bit in a modern way’.
Passionate about traditions, and looking for ways to earn a living in his new home, he began working independently as a fur trapper, selling and trading fur in the winter, inspired by 1800’s fur traders such as Joseph Meek and Jim Bridger: “The West was really settled by the people who created the fur trade.
They were scouts for the army and the ones who showed the settlers how to get over the mountains. It’s a lost past, I guess.’
Tom also found a hobby in brain tanning, which consists of converting fur from raw into leather using deer brains. Although the intensive labor is a Native American tradition, its origins date back to the Stone Age and extended to every continent.
Although it was a winter hobby in the beginning, found himself often sell tanned fur skin, including tailor-made clothing. Over the summer, Tom and his wife continued their business and sold their creations in town: “We came in to go to an appointment, an appointment with black powder, and on this appointment the best dress to wear is clothes.” from deerskin, and so for years, we tanned buckskin.’
Black-powder rendezvous are reenactments of 1800’s fur trade and events. Weapons, clothing and spirits of the era can be found at these gatherings, which aid local artisans selling their original goods. Tom Oar has stated that he usually made $3,000 to $4,000 per event.
Mountain Men – TV debut
In 2012, Tom participated in the first season of History Channel’s “Mountain Men,” a reality TV show that centers on the lives of various hunters, naturalists, and adventurers in the US.
In 2019, it was speculated that Oar, who had become the series’ most beloved star, would leave the show to retire to Florida. However, the rumors were unfounded, as Tom was only on vacation in the winter: ‘We love Montana! We’re not going anywhere!’ explained Tom’s wife Nancy Montanian in June.
Today, “Mountain Men” is still on the air, and Tom is a part of it.
Tom married Jan David in the early 1960s. The couple welcomed two children together: Chad, who appeared in “Mountain Men” with his father, and daughter Keelie. who died in 2015. The couple filed for divorce for unknown reasons in the 1970s.
Tom married Nancy Oar for the second time and the couple has been happily together for over four decades. Meanwhile, Tom’s ex-wife Jan married Dave Frazer, and together they had a son named Matt.
Tom’s only grandchild is Chad’s son, Tanner Oar.
As a result of his work in the leather tanning and fur trade, along with his earnings from his appearance in “Mountain Man,” Tom Oar has an estimated net worth of $200,000 by mid-2020.
Tom Oar is a man of white ethnicity, whose height and weight are unknown. He has a bushy beard and gray hair, although in his youth he wore short dark brown hair accompanied by a mustache.
Tom’s father, Chike Oar, used to act on American Wild West Shows.
Tom’s grandchild Tanner has been featured in “Mountain Men” several times.
Although Tom has remained active in his business and has no plans to retire yet, he has warned his wife about the dangers of his old age: ‘We can’t do this forever. I keep saying to Nancy, ‘One of these days you’ll probably just lay me dead stretched across the meat block’.
Tom describes his life as ‘great’, and looks back fondly on the past: ‘I enjoyed it. And as long as I can, I’m going to do it.’
Our #MCM goes out to Tom Oar for his rugged charm and awesome cardigans. #MountainMen
Tom and Nancy Oar were approached by the History Channel through a friend of theirs who worked as a manufacturer’s representative: ‘Their friend, who owns Linehan Outfitting Co. operates in Troy, Mont., guides hunters and fishermen, and owns cabins near where the Oars live’
Woolly Bugger, the bull who nearly killed Tom in his youth, died two weeks after meeting Oar: “I think I gave him a concussion too,” the former rodeo rider stated.
Tom’s appearances in “Mountain Men” have increased the success of Oar’s tanning business, given the extra exposure it brings.
Oar really appreciates his fans: “(They) are very important to me, and it’s really nice to meet and talk to all these different people. There is always something interesting, and there are always interesting people to meet.’