History Channel show “Mountain Men” has made us familiar with some daring people living in remote mountain terrains of the United States. We have “Houndsman of Ruby Valley” Rich Lewis, who is a great Lion hunter and then we have the more subtle Tom Oar. Tom Oar is a former rodeo cowboy who became a tanner and blacksmith. He lives in the Yaak River Valley of Montana with his wife Nancy, where he traps and tans animal hides. The show also features other naturalists and hunters such as Eustace Conway, Marty Meierotto, Morgan Beasley, and Jason Hawk. In this article, we will bring everything to know about Tom Oar who left modern-day convenience for the woods in the 80s accompanied by his wife.
Who is Tom Oar?
Tom Oar is a hunter, trapper, tanner, former rodeo, and a reality television actor known for “Mountain Men.” Tom comes from a family of entertainers, as his father Chike Oar traveled across the country performing in the “US Wild West Shows,” and the side is evident in Tom too. He worked in the rodeo circuit for nearly three decades. Tom made the top 10 ranks of the International Rodeo Association on multiple occasions.
On physical appearance, Tom has a small height, grey/white hair, and a bushy white beard. He often goes with his signature cowboy hats which could be a testament to his glory days as a rodeo.
How old is Tom Oar?
Tom Oar was born in March 1943 in Illinois, U.S. The birthday makes him 79 years old. An American by nationality, Tom comes from a Caucasian household. He has an older brother Jack Oar whom he shared a childhood growing up.
Tom Oar was born to Chike Oar and Mary Jance Crellin in Illinois, United States. As a toddler in the 1940s, Tom had no grasp of his surrounding as world war II had the world in chaos, and many families suffered economic crises. After World War II ended in 1945, America went into recession. The Oar family, who had based their lives on country life had a moderate impact compared to urban people.
Tom grew up in the country outside Rockford, Illinois exuding a deep passion for the outdoors in his early years often spending time roaming. At the age of seven, he learned horse trick riding from his father. The adventure continued in his teenage years as his mother helped with a moral boost by pushing and showing confidence in his rodeo skills. On the academic side of things, it is not clear if Tom attended school or gained any kind of certificates validating his educational achievements.
Tom is a self-taught tanner which he turned to for livelihood after his cowboy life came to an unfortunate end. Tom had been rodeoing Horse and Bulls starting from his teenage years and by the age of 20, he was getting wider recognition. During the ’60s & the ’70s, he enjoyed the peak of his career getting on the Top 10 list made by International Rodeo Association several times. Not just content to buckle horses Tom lived the thrill of bull riding and even had a brush with death.
On February 14, 1978, Tom had a rodeoing accident, the moment he entered the arena his head collapsed with the bull named “Wolly Bugger,” leaving him unconscious followed by tossing for two minutes. Tom got bruising all over and a severe concussion. Only after three hours, he gained consciousness.
Even though Tom returned to the arena a month later the rodeoing never remained the same. Tom failed to discover the previous form and eventually retired in 1981.
Moving to Montana, tanning:
Tom and his wife Nancy decided to move to remote Montana following retirement. Initially, the pair settled in a log house. It took them five years to make a house of their own. The pair lived on hunting, trapping, tanning, and collecting food in the heart of the woods aided by the Yaak River as a water source. For groceries, they had to travel 50 miles from their spot.
Tom had prior trapping experience but he never had done ancient tanning. He taught himself the Indian way of ancient brain tanning from a book he bought for $3 at a store. And over the years Tom and his wife have made a livelihood by trapping and tanning.
The cold winter of Montana has its tolls but the pair have been able to use it to their benefit. Year after year, as the winter snow covers the land and slows down the animals, Tom uses the opportunity to set traps and hunt.
During summertime, the pair visit towns to sell clothes which are basically made up of buckskin. They put on sale different items such as brain-tanned buckskin to custom clothing such as moccasins, shirts, and trousers.
After quietly living in the mountain terrains of Montana for over 30 years, the opportunity came knocking at Tom’s door. He was asked to be part of the History Channel reality show Mountain Men which would document his lifestyle. Tom did agree and joined the cast from the very inception. Tom made his show debut in 2012 during season 1 episode 1 entitled “Winter is Coming” and made over 124 episode appearances until now. Tom is known for his skills and knowledge of living off the land.
In the remotes of Montana money does not mean much especially the way Tom and his wife Nancy have lived. They hunt, trap, grow, tan, and collect their food from mother nature. The couple has been fur trapping for years which has laid the foundation for their net worth. Tom has a net worth of $300,000, surprisingly high for being a mountain man, right? A huge portion of their worth is attributed to their earnings from the television show.
Marriage & children:
For the longest time, Tom is married to Nancy Oar who is also from Northern Illinois. As a married couple, the pair used to visit remote Montana during summertime and eventually settled there. Also, Nancy was in attendance during his gruesome rodeoing accident in 1978 and took care of him afterward. However, she is not the only woman to come into Tom’s life. Tom found Nancy only after going through a divorce.
Tom was previously married to Jan Frazer and gave birth to two children. Tom tied the knot with his first wife sometime during his teenage years and had their first child Chad Oar in May 1957. Their second child a daughter Keelie Oar was born on February 14, 1966.
Rejecting a move to Florida:
Tom is known to have well adjusted to the traditional way of living in Montana. His children, Chad and Keelie Oar both appeared in “Mountain Men” and wanted him to make a move to Florida. However, Tom has been reluctant to trade his life for the convenience of the city. In an interview, Tom did mention he was born too late in the sense his lifestyle would have been better suited maybe 100 or 200 years prior.
“I was born a hundred years too late,” he chuckles. “Or maybe 200 years too late.”
Seeing their child taken away is one of the most gruesome feelings parents can suffer. For Tom, he had to bear it all as he suffered the death of his daughter. Keelie took her last breath on April 26, 2015, at the age of 49. She was a practicing Christian and worked in medical sales.