PHOTOS Mountain Men’s Eustace Conway as a beardless younger man

Eustace Conway from Mountain Men reality series official History Channel photo

History Channel has continued its string of successful manly reality series with the 8-episode Mountain Men, which focuses on the lives of three men living “off the grid” in the mountainous regions of northern Alaska, Montana, and the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. The show premiered to a whopping 3.9 million viewers, who I’m sure all watched from the climate controlled comfort of their living rooms and bedrooms. (I watched it a few days later thanks to the beautiful magic of DVR technology.)

51-year-old Eustace Conway, who currently resides on a 1,000-acre plot of land he calls Turtle Island in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, got his first taste of living at-one with nature when he spent a week in the woods at the age of 12, completely empty-handed, making his own shelter and living entirely off the land. That stint in the wilderness sparked a fire in little Eustace that led to many more adventures. From GQ:

When he was 18 years old, he traveled down the Mississippi River in a handmade cedar canoe. When he was 19, he walked the 2,000 miled of the Appalachian Trail, surviving on only what he could hunt or gather along the way. Over the next few years, he hiked the Alps (in sneakers), kayaked across Alaska, scaled cliffs in New Zealand and lived with Navajo in Mexico.

When Eustace was in his midtwenties, he decided that he wanted to study a primitive culture more closely, so he flew to Guatemala. He got off the plane and pretty much started asking, “Where are the primitive people at?” He was pointed toward the jungle, where he hiked until he found a remote village of Mayan Indians. He lived with the Indians for months. They liked him a lot.

Mountain Men star Eustace Conway's photos now and when he was younger

It was some time during this period that the two inset photos above were taken, which feature a youthful and beardless Eustace Conway wearing what appears to be a homemade shirt. Here are the two photos on their own – just click to enlarge:

Mountain Men's Eustace Conway as ayoung man

Ol’ Eustace Conway was clean-cut and and a bit on the cute side as a young man!

Mountain Men's Eustace Conway had short hair and no beard as a younger man

As I’m sure you probably guessed, Eustace’s adventuring didn’t stop after hanging out with the Mayan Indians in Guatemala. In 1995 he and his brother Judson rode horses across America, from South Carolina to San Diego, in 103 days! They reportedly set out after eating a hefty Christmas dinner and arrived in And Diego just before Easter, surviving “off the land” the entire journey, which included roadkill deer and squirrel soup. They slept in the barns of folks they met along the way, or else snoozed beneath the stars when weather permitted. And perhaps most shockingly of all, there were no sponsors for the trip or reality show cameras along for the ride.

But don’t think cameras are an issue for Eustace Conway, who is no stranger to the attention being on Mountain Men is sure to bring. In addition to doing numerous speaking engagements and presentations all over the world, Eustace was also the subject of the National Book Award finalist biography The Last American Man by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Last American Man book coverBook about Mountain Men star Eustace Conway titled The Last American Man
^ Two different The Last American Man book covers

Nowadays Eustace spends most of his time living off the land on Turtle Island Preserve in northwest North Carolina where he helps spread the gospel of self-sufficient living and oneness with nature. Here’s his personal message from the Turtle Island Preserve website that pretty much sums up what he and the Preserve are all about. (I’ll toss in a few great videos as well, including Eustace Conway’s presentation at the TEDx Conference in Asheville in 2010 and an NBC News piece about him from a few years back.)

When I first walked on this land, Turtle Island, I knew I had found the sacred ground I had been searching for. It matched the vision I had carried since youth — a remote pristine valley — to be kept forever wild. I bought the first 107-acre tract that week. We have added many more tracts since then and built a farm from the forest and a program based on experiential education. “SIMPLY REAL” became our motto and hard work, focused and determined our daily mantra.

We created a place where people can get in touch with the roots of humanity and connected with the resources and abilities that sustain our existence. We simplfy our day to food, shelter, water, and clothing which enables us to see more clearly the picture of how we fit into the bigger circles of life; our food chain, water cycle, Eco system, and environmental economics.

We break rocks to make stone tools, bend bark to fashion baskets, and spin sticks to create fire. We drive horse and buggy, plow gardens, dry wild persimmons, cook stinging nettle, watch the morning light first hit the tree tops and lift a rock in a stream to see what mysteries reside there. We watch a spider weave a web or 42 butterflies stir at our quiet passing.

We enchant the overstimulated apathetic bored spirit within us as we wash the dust off by standing in the rain watching the deer come closer, listening to the wren’s call — not just hearing but listening to the wild things as if they matter and then realizing that they do.

At Turtle Island you can meet people who really live in the forest and take immediate responsibility for their actions. We work with groups of all types from business professionals to elementary classes. We are eclectic, diverse, spontaneous and creative we offer a door to a renewed vision of an ancient natural reality that governs all. With a few sticks and bones we can wake up your world!

In Peace,


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  • Epic

    Asa Hawk and Starcasm staff. I have a problem being quoted speculatively on your website and would like an apology. Please see yesterday’s article where I was likened to some teenager with a desire to hurt others when all I was doing was advocating for a young child without a voice. I was forced to defend myself in your comments section on that article. That is ridiculous.

  • Epic

    Well that’s nice. No response.

    And to think I’ve defended this site and suggested it to friends because it always tries to get the story straight, not jump to conclusions and not make decisions without evidence. Yet here I am misrepresented without so much as a word. Sad. I expected more from you guys.

  • Coyotejoe

    Eustace Conway’s “Turtle Island Sanctuary” has been shut down for numerous severe violations of health and building codes. It seems those nasty government types feel it is improper to have hundreds of visitors using the woods as a toilet and structures in danger of collaps are a threat to those same visitors. Maybe Conway can get volunteers to do the work of rebuilding and to pay him $750 per week for the privilabe of doing his dirty work, that has worked up to now.

    • Herman Vogel

      He spent said money to buy land to keep it away from “developers” that only want it to make a profit and to hell with the land or trees, or don’t you care about that…. I stand with Eustace, thank you.

      • Vet63

        Open your eyes, Eustace is cutting trees as fast as 4 guys with chainsaws can fell them. He talks a good game about preserving the land but he exploits it as much as anybody and more than most. He has enormous stacks of sawn lumber drying behind his saw mill. He doesn’t want anyone else to exploit the forest because he wants it for himself.

        • Herman Vogel

          So you live up there and know him personally? That not what I hear from my friend that live 5 mile away from him.

          • Vet63

            Ask your friend where the timber comes from to keep Eustace’s saw mill running. Ask him if he has ever actually toured Turtle Island. Eustace does not allow casual visitors. He has an open house one day per year where visitors may see the areas Eustace wants them to see, otherwise the cheapest way to visit Turtle Island is to pay $65.00 for a one hour buggy ride and you still only see what Eustace wants you to see.

            • Herman Vogel

              So you are saying a man CAN’T use HIS property for his own use? Gee, I thought we had a Constitution? Or is it only for people like YOU? Eustace is a conservationist,,,he harvest responsibly unlike the Developers moving in next to him.Gee, are you jealous or just like to HATE?

              • Vet63

                Of course he can do what he likes on his own land, a right he seeks to deny to others. The point is that he is a phony, he doesn’t walk his talk or come anywhere near it, for Eustace it is “do as I say, while I hide what I do”.
                So is “hate” the current liberal buzz word? That to expose a fraud is “hate” if the fraud happens to be beloved by the uninformed?

                • Herman Vogel

                  So you own land of any significant amount? And you allow others to run all over it? yeah,,,yeah. LMAO geez

                  • Vet63

                    It’s obvious that you have a severe case of hero worship of a man you’ve never met and who in truth does not exist.

                    • Herman Vogel

                      It’s obvious that YOU dislike people that don’t sit on their azz all day. I’ll ask again, how much land do you own,,,Sq, feet, Acres, Section, what…how much? If he did cut down as much as you say he did,,,the place would be empty,,,but I see one or two trees standing around…

                    • Vet63

                      Let me just run through a few of the lies we all heard Eustace tell on national TV. He claimed he lives on less the $2,000 per year and that his only source of income was selling firewood. A quick look at his web site dispels both of those lies. He claims to live off the land and grow all his own food but people who have interned there say that in fact Turtle Island produces almost no food but depends on donations and dumpster diving. The best one however is when he claimed the government has a lien of $85,000 for back taxes on his property. Truth is there was a lien on his property but not for taxes. It was for settlement of a law suit where a child lost an eye on Turtle Island. The original amount of the settlement was $400,000 which Eustace never paid. So the plaintiff agreed to a reduced settlement of $85,000 which Eustace still never paid. So it was again negotiated downward And Eustace still has not paid. So there is your folk hero, he cheats a crippled child and lies about it on TV to garner sympathy in hopes some fool like you will offer to pay his debt.

                    • Herman Vogel

                      I may just help him out just to pizz off the HATERS like YOU…;)

                    • Vet63

                      There you go with your pathetic buzz word again, when confronted with truth just call it hate and continue to live in your fantasy land. Go for it Tinker Bell.

        • KINGMAN

          UE EYES R SOOOOO CLOSED !!!!

        • jackie

          He replants new trees, I’m sure. BIG difference vs developers.

    • American Dreamn

      Funny how all of his buildings were found to be stronger than existing code requires. Developers and a local government wanting a more robust tax base, were what was behind this over reach. Evidently restrictions even prohibit them from consuming the food they grow. The regulations where I live actually prohibit feeding livestock out of the garden…(They get out fine. You throw it over the fence to them, your in violation.) There is way too much of that kind of garbage that I hope more people will get fed up over and do something about it. They wanted this man to have a sprinkler system in a dog house for petes sake, and try to argue the point that cider blocks are stronger than stone….Ridiculous…I really don’t care if the man is the biggest charlatan since Albert Abrams. What the local authorities did was wrong, and I am sure had not so pure motives behind it.

  • Herman Vogel

    When the SHTF we will ALL want a Eustace Conway as a neighbor and friend.

    • Vet63

      That’s an interesting thought but the truth is he has constant squabbles with his neighbors now. He has been arrested for trespassing on neighbors land where he thinks he can tell people what to do on their own property. He has no friends because he is totally selfish and cares about no one else.

      • Herman Vogel

        I talked to a friend of mine in NC and he said that Eustace Does argue with the neighbors BUT, the Neighbors are Developers that clear cut trees, doze out natural waterways and create environmental damage to the forest by eroding the natural landscape which effects his property. I would be pizzed too.

      • Doug Kendall

        Totally agree with you. The guy is whacked.

    • james

      really? seems like being his neighbor involves full time work helping him get his property squared away…for free no less. no thanks….

      • Herman Vogel

        YOu DO know that his “Neighbor” gets almost $12,000 an episode,,,right? As for ‘Free and No thanks. You may also want to know that Eustace give him a lot of wood from his mill and also helps him on HIS place,,,that’s what Neighbor do,,,don’t know about yours. sad.

        • Doug Kendall

          Gives wood? Thought Eustace didn’t cut down forest. He survives by donations & now a salary from history! He should pay that little kid 400K now. He’s a fake & fraud.

          • Herman Vogel

            WOW, talk about having a Hate-On for a man living on his own. The Kid’s parents should have been more responsible and watched her. As for the lumber, the land he protects is HIS,,,unless you Don’t believe in property rights. He only cuts dead or “crowded” trees. That actually Helps the forest by allowing sunlight onto the ground and cutting and using Dead Trees reduced the Fuel Wood during forest fires. Don’t know why you HATE this man so much but you should get to know what he does before you condemn.

      • timber

        The neighbor/ friend of Eustace is nothing but a b*#%* for Eustace! Probably likes the b-work, waiting on Eustace hand and foot his every waking moment, wish I had a b- neighbor like that!!!hahaha

  • Donna

    Are Eustace and Preston a coiple

    • james

      i’m starting to think they are. neither one has a girlfriend/wife to report to, and they spend, what seems, every waking moment together. preston also works his ass off for eustice. i’m all for helping your neighbor out when its necessary or asked, but damn, this guy is doing it full time for free.

    • Doug Kendall

      Preston is married with grown children. Been married for 30yrs. They are neighbors.