Eighteen years ago, Sean Vann, star of Discovery’s “Siberian Cut,” bravely ventured into the forests of Russia for the first time in the hopes he’d find success in the timber industry there. This year, he decided to ditch his bosses and go out on his own for the opportunity to make big money with his crew—and Discovery’s cameras were there to capture every moment. He joined us in the FOX411 studio to discuss the dangers of timber-cutting and the sacrifices of the high-risk job.
FOX411: You’ve been working in Siberia for 18 years, do you feel like you’re outsider being an American in Russia?
Sean Vann: Not really, anymore. I feel very much at home there. They pretty much accept me as any other Russian businessman.
FOX411: In terms of logging in Siberia, why not keep it in the United States?
Vann: I went over there because of a dwindling timber supply in my region in Montana. The federal force back at that time back in ’94, ’93, the timber-sell program was being scaled back dramatically. So, there wasn’t the opportunity that was there for my father and before that. I really had to find another place to go. I started to go to Siberia. I started working there. I just was addicted immediately. I like the adventure of it all, the lack of having a really good infrastructure, this constant necessity to be thinking five steps ahead. Things are changing all of the time and it’s just difficult. I guess I’m kind of addicted to that difficult work environment.
FOX411: You’re venturing out on your own. How much money do you stand to make?
Vann: That’s determined by how the season is, the weather conditions, and all these other things but there’s a potential there like nowhere else. Once you get on attractive land over there, there’s enough wood there to cut basically for 49 years. The leases are for 49 years. So, that’s just a matter of how much I can develop the business, how much equipment I can acquire, but typically what we were striving for last season was to try and make about a quarter of a million dollars just with the timber cutting.
FOX411: What’s the worst thing that has happened to you in the field?
Vann: One of the worst things to have happened was we had a fatality on-site back in the nineties. A guy was killed up on one of our logging sites. Back in those days, you couldn’t dial 911 or get a medevac flight up there. If you get injured out there, there’s a big chance you’re going to die.
FOX411: How do you balance the family and the work life?
Vann: I do the best I can but at the end of the day, I’m away three months a lot of times and then I’m back home only for a month. I balance it as well as I can. It works out. I’ve been doing it a long time.
“Siberian Cut” airs Tuesdays on the Discovery Channel.