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History to premiere the third season of 'Ax Men' on January 10


By Christopher Rocchio, 12/23/2009 

History has announced that Ax Men's third season will premiere on Sunday, January 10 at 9PM ET/PT.

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While Ax Men's first season featured logging companies located only in Oregon and its second edition added crews from Montana and Washington, its upcoming installment will also include timber cutters from Louisiana and Florida.

Reigning logging champ Rygaard Logging, industry heavyweight J.M. Browning Logging, and underdog Pihl Logging will all continue to duke it out in the Pacific Northwest on Ax Men's third season; while R&R Conner Aviation continues to operate its helicopter logging firm in Montana.

Meanwhile S&S Aqua -- the "underwater logging" outfit that illegally salvaged perfectly preserved sunken timber from Washington's waterways during Ax Men's second season -- will relocate to Florida in search of a new beginning on the third season, which will also introduce viewers to Louisiana swamp logger Shelby Stanga.

In August, Michael D. Pihl -- owner of Pihl Logging -- was arrested by Oregon State Police and charged with assault in the third degree and three counts of recklessly endangering another person after a vehicle he was driving flipped over and injured three children.

Pihl pleaded guilty to assault and recklessly endangering another person last week and received two years probation, The Oregonian reported, adding while investigators believe Pihl was driving under the influence of intoxicants but wasn't hit with a DUI charge because the crash occurred on private property.

Ax Men is produced by Original Productions, with Thom Beers and Philip Segal serving as executive producers.

The six logging crews featured on Ax Men's third season -- and their History-supplied bios -- are:

- J.M. Browning Logging: Operating out of Astoria, Oregon, no-nonsense Jay Browning knows firsthand how dangerous this business can be -- he lost his hand in a logging accident and now wears a prosthetic. After losing ground in season 2 to the underdogs at Rygaard, Jay is not taking any chances when it comes to regaining the "King of the Mountain" title. This season, he is taking back control by heading into the woods to cut timber and to push the pace of production, while his son, Jesse Browning, oversees the business side of the company.

- Rygaard Logging: Based in Port Angeles, Washington, Rygaard Logging is a family business consisting of father Craig and son Gabe. Craig is a wild man with a big heart, a sharp mind and a quick wit. Craig has never been fond of greenhorns (aka rookies) and this season there are two on the crew: David Schroeder and Travis Davis. He'll have to hold his temper in order to hold the title that Rygaard snatched away from Browning last season, while Gabe, the muscle of the lean and mean operation, is more determined than ever to stay on top of the leader board.

- Pihl Logging: Pihl Logging has been the lifeblood of Vernonia, Oregon, for almost 25 years, and is owned and operated by Mike Pihl. This company has a group of men who like to trade jibes with each other almost as much as they like to cut timber. In order to be a contender this season, Pihl Logging has taken drastic measures, bringing in Melvin Lardy, a fan favorite from season 1, to whip the crew into shape and amp up production. Meanwhile, Leland Bontranger, the yarder operator displaced by Melvin, is not taking kindly to the change.

- S&S Aqua Logging: Underwater logger Jimmy Smith is heading east from Aberdeen, Washington to test the waters of Florida. Back home, S&S specialized in recovering century-old, perfectly preserved timber that had been cut by our ancestors but lost in Washington's waterways along its journey to the mill. Now, Jimmy in teaming up with Collins River Logging to see if White Springs, Florida will prove to be profitable as he faces new perils posed by dark water and nasty gators. And, since he's working for someone else, he needs to be on top of his game. Meanwhile, Jimmy's son, James Smith, is a big dreamer who sometimes neglects the details, but will find a chance to shine on new turf with a new boss.

- R&R Conner Aviation: Based in Montana, R&R Conner Aviation is a family-run helicopter logging company owned and operated by Ryan Conner. Helicopter logging is one of the most dangerous and expensive forms of timber harvesting. The demands of working beneath a thundering helicopter and the severe weather are more than most are equipped to handle. Thus, having an experienced team of pilots, mechanics and ground crew is crucial, which means senior pilot Bart Colantuono will have his hands full with greenhorn fliers Josh, Kevin and Ben.

- Shelby Stanga: Shelby Stanga of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, has been logging in the swamps north of New Orleans since he was 9. He recovers abandoned logs from nearby waterways with a colorful cast of sidekicks: his dog Piss Willy, his friends Earl and Gary and his cousin David. Shelby is on the hunt for sinker cypress, the gold standard of trees in these parts. But, guarding the treasure are enormous alligators, ill-tempered swamp rats and deadly snakes. The marks covering Shelby's body -- appendages almost lost to gator bites, eye gouged out, head injuries and chronic intestinal pain -- are a testament to the job's dangers.

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