Tom Oar

Deep in the heart of the Yaak Valley, located in the extreme northwest of Montana, lives an old-time trapper and tanner named Tom Oar.

Tom grew up working the rodeo circuit as a bronco rider for 28 years, and it took a punishing toll on his body. Tom always trapped, but he didn’t start tanning until he was 28. When he wore out an old pair of moccasins, Tom bought a book on brain tanning for three dollars and learned to tan animal hides. Today, Tom is one of the most respected tanners in the western United States.

As Tom has gotten older, the fur market has worsened, along with his health. Each day life gets a little more difficult for this aging mountain man with bad rodeo legs. He worries that he will be forced to leave his life in the Yaak for city life in Florida with his children. Tom is a mountain man to his very core and will do anything to avoid abandoning his lifestyle.

Last year Tom faced plenty of challenges: a mammoth grizzly threatened the Oars’ cabin; a wolfpack marauded through the area; and Tom was unable to get the deer he and his wife, Nancy, needed. The coming year will be just as difficult. Tom will be forced to protect his property from the fires that are devastating Montana, get the buck that eluded him last year and teach his grandson Tanner the mountain man lifestyle.