American Badass | Audwin P. McGee

When I come back, I want to be Audwin Pierre McGee. I met Mr. McGee when I was down in The Shoals with Billy Reid and I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever met anyone cooler – although Billy gives him a run for his money. The fact that those two are friends, well that’s just like fishing with dynamite. In addition to being a big game hunter and artist, the man is a skilled craftsman and safari guide. He probably has twenty other job titles that I missed, he seriously is that talented. I met Audwin for the first time at an event Billy took me to in Tuscumbia. It was a chance meeting. We struck up a conversation and were fast friends. I think I could have talked to him for two weeks straight. The exchange jumped from art to interior design to hunting without skipping a beat. When does that happen? Almost never, at least for me. Eventually we started talking about the historic building we were in and as it turned out that Audwin and his wife lived right next door. I knew the place had to be cool, so I asked if he would let me check it out. Being the nice guy that he is, Audwin agreed and we wandered over drinks in hand.

McGee (right) in Mozambique.

Audwin’s loft is in a renovated historic building on a little Southern “main street.” The apartment makes up basically the entire second floor of the building. It’s a roomy space filled with taxidermy and old photos, but the thing that sticks out at you most is all of the wood. There is beautiful rich brown wood everywhere and apparently all of the restoration work was done by Audwin himself. That would make sense because I don’t think I could come up with anything the man can’t do. At the end of the long kitchen / living room is a big studio for painting and sculpture. I was dying to take pictures and was happy when Audwin didn’t mind. The only sad part was that I didn’t have my big camera (and that I had had a few drinks), but I think the photos turned out okay. The loft has a Garden & Gun feature written all over it – truly incredible.

A few months removed from my trip to Alabama, I hope to get back down there and hang with Billy and Audwin again. Or better yet, Audwin invited me on safari to the enromus game reserve he helps run in Mozambique. That could be cool too. And when I say “cool,” I mean that as one massive understatement.

Old school freight elevator right in the middle of the apartment.

Audwin's studio is right there in the middle of the loft.
A few of Audwin's paintings.

On the back side of the apartment is an area that is a little rough like a work room. When we went through it I thought is was Audwin’s office, which prompted me to ask if that was the case. Audwin’s response politely steered me away from the idea that he is the type to have an office. I believe he called it a “work room.” I respect a man that doesn’t want people to think he has an office. Right out of frame of these photos is a giant garage door (keep in mind we are on the second floor) that opens to reveal the Alabama sky. It is a pretty awesome room.

Comments on “American Badass | Audwin P. McGee

    Jon on July 30, 2010 7:28 PM:

    Wow. Looks like that Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man In The World” guy is f-ing real!

    …stay thirsty, my friends.

    evencleveland on July 30, 2010 7:35 PM:

    Holy wow.

    Dave on July 30, 2010 8:09 PM:

    Hemingway redux

    Ted on July 30, 2010 8:10 PM:


    Ken on July 30, 2010 8:58 PM:

    I get this. I really get it. Fantastic! His wife must be an interesting one, too. Their home isn’t exactly “feminine” so I wonder what she thinks about it all. She must love it. I sure do!

    Jonathan on July 30, 2010 9:57 PM:

    What’s so manly about shooting defenseless animals? Every soldier in Afganistan is way more badass than him.

    I see a rich dude enjoying the life – which is great! I wish him health and happiness.

    But badass??? C’mon… More like someone who’s trying really hard to look like one (and succeeds!).

    Damian on July 30, 2010 10:07 PM:

    Very interesting. Looks like his home was all set for a photo shoot. Beautiful. Looking forward to reading his blog. I’m sure he’s more interesting than that slovenly lush Dos Equis is behind.

    Wjletch on July 31, 2010 12:04 AM:

    Quite the accomplished hunter! I viewed his website and its awesome. Although its hard for me to see “Badass” and “Pierre” in the same article.

    Garrett on July 31, 2010 9:21 AM:

    & thats why I read your blog…one of the best posts

    Peter on July 31, 2010 10:13 AM:

    I agree with Jonathan…glad McGee’s living the life he wants…but the “great white hunter” shtick is pretty tired by now. It’s not being a “pussy” to think that shooting those magnificent animals and tacking their heads to the wall is a retrograde and simplistic notion of masculinity. It takes a lot more confidence to refrain from killing.

    Yeah, I think everyone should learn how to shoot, if only to understand the power you hold in your hand. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility.


    Brian Davis on July 31, 2010 11:51 AM:

    Beautiful pictures. You’re giving The Selby a run for his money!

    DAN on July 31, 2010 12:10 PM:

    one of my fav posts. thank you.

    Raoul Duke on July 31, 2010 3:28 PM:

    Peter & Jonathan – It’s a shame that thinning the herd you guys travel in is illegal.

    Peter on July 31, 2010 4:10 PM:

    Raoul, you’ve just proved my point.

    Jeff on July 31, 2010 4:14 PM:

    Give the man his due…he has some serious talent. Besides, I don’t see any stuffed lions and tigers and bears amongst his decor.

    Jordan on July 31, 2010 4:21 PM:

    Oh, please. Hunting is a sport. It is fun. I hunt because it’s fun, not to “prove” I’m a
    man. By your logic, we should abandon rugby and football, because tackling people is a “tired notion of masculinity.” Who the he’ll mentioned masculinity? We do it because it’s fun!

    JLSLC on July 31, 2010 6:44 PM:

    Actually, one could quite reasonably argue that engaging your fellow man on the sports field is a perfectly relevant notion of masculinity, while shooting wildlife at a distance is not.

    Jordan on July 31, 2010 7:09 PM:

    My point was just that I hunt for the fun of it, and I pack and eat the meat it produces. I then stuff the animals, keeping my local taxidermist in business. I do all this for the fun and cameraderie. Nobody had previously mentioned it being tied to manliness. Not to mention the fact you’re ignoring the hunter tradition goes back thousands of years and you can easily argue it’s very manly, though that’s not why I do it.

    And shooting “from a distance”? Something tells me you haven’t hunted much, if at all. Sure, you can hunt from quite a ways away with today’s scopes and accurate firearms. But the vast majority of my hunting takes place within 100 yards of deer and pheasant or whatever else I’m hunting. And tracking them while avoiding alerting their keen hearing and smell takes skill indeed.

    People who fuss so much about hunting should buy their meat from a grocery store where the animals weren’t injured in the process…oh wait.

    Curt in Fishtown on July 31, 2010 7:18 PM:

    Looks just as awesome as the Billy Reid shop in Dallas.

    R4 on July 31, 2010 10:44 PM:

    wait, eh no-it’s actually not the guy from the Dos Equis campaign is it.

    Kate on August 1, 2010 12:08 AM:

    @Ken, his wife Sandi is very feminine but not frilly. Think Audrey Hepburn. Her strength comes from her intelligence and independence. She is a very talented artist in her own right and knew and worked with him before marrying him so she definitely knew what she was getting into! Incidentally, he is actually quite the conservationist and much of his travel and work stems from his love of the people that he meets in his travels and their struggle to survive. There is a deep respect and love of other cultures that is eveident in his work.

    JLSLC on August 1, 2010 1:38 AM:

    100 yards? QED.

    I don’t care if you hunt and I’m glad it is a positive pursuit for you. MY point was that one could draw distinctions between types of sport, say hunting, field sports and poker — its on ESPN — and argue their relative masculinity.

    Frankly, I think the notion of masculinity itself is often argued in simplistic and retrograde terms.

    JLSLC on August 1, 2010 1:39 AM:

    BTW, I don’t buy meat at the grocery store or anywhere else. But to each his own.

    xcubbies on August 1, 2010 7:06 AM:

    A tough guy with a blog- there is something incongruous with that.

    Peter on August 1, 2010 9:47 AM:

    I should add that I admire the conservation work that hunters like McGee have done. Frankly in a lot of African countries the government is neither capable of nor motivated to set aside land, crack down on poachers etc.

    And yes, I understand the urge to hunt and kill. I just don’t believe it should be celebrated as “badass.”

    Audwin on August 1, 2010 1:35 PM:

    Michael, thanks for the recognition and kind words. Man you can sure stir up some folks with the most unassuming things. “hey everybody has their opinion,” I just want to say thanks to everyone for their comments and that your blog has always been one of my favorites. When we were talking we blew through so much, so just to clear up a few things, one that I don’t actually help run the Reserve, I just donate time, effort, etc., that can help out. I do work with Derek Littleton, (Luwire Safaris) one of the first private operators with the Reserve. Two, my hunting habit is a part of the culture of my family going back to my ancestors in Scotland and well, it’s a part of life for people like me. I do not use a scope as I think it is more sporting and no African animal is defenseless. I’m by no means a rich man but I am a very blessed one, I work when I go to Africa and pay my way. If you will read a few of my latest posts on my two blogs you will hopefully understand my conservation ethics and become a supporter of Sport Hunting in that without it there would be NO ANIMALS left in Africa today. Sportsmen pay!! And that money sometimes is the ONLY money that goes to anti-poaching. The Governments could care less in most cases and consider animals a nuisance. If your interested I am about to begin raising money for a small spotter plane to patrol our area in and around the reserve. Price is $50,000 US. Lets all put our money where our mouths are, shall we? You should all come and see for yourself, it will change you forever.

    Lizabeth on August 1, 2010 9:28 PM:

    Well said Audwin, Kate and Michael. For those of us who know Audwin….he is a truly wonderful and talented man……….he has worked extremely hard for everything he has. I remember the house my brother shared with him at one time………!

    Sheila on August 1, 2010 9:30 PM:

    I live in Muscle Shoals and know Audwin casually. He is a very unassuming man with a lot to offer in the role of an artist. He is a local man who just happens to hop a plane once in a while to do what he apparently loves. He attends local events, dines at local establishments, is seen quite often around the Shoals area, and always has a smile and a wave for those around him. I don’t see him as a rich man unless you count his riches of talent and family. His work has added a lot of interest, charm and taste around here. Nice pictures of his place….

    Jacob on August 2, 2010 12:11 AM:

    This post is why I read this blog. What a cool guy.

    Turling on August 2, 2010 11:11 AM:

    HA! I was thinking the very same thing Jon, the first poster, said.

    Richard Williams on August 2, 2010 11:58 AM:

    Definitely a renaissance man. The essence of cool.

    BMA on August 2, 2010 3:41 PM:

    The “White Man’s Burden” excuse that this guy uses to justify his recreational pursuits in Africa is incredibly offensive and lacks awareness of African history.
    The idea that this man believes himself to be better qualified to care for African wild life than the natives of this continent is breathtaking in its audacity. Anyone with knowledge of African history can tell you that the near extinction of African wild life in southern and eastern Africa, in particular, is the direct result of the rapacious “blood sport” practiced during the colonial era by so called “white hunters”. To blame the demise of African wild life on corrupt governments and native poachers seeking sustenance or subsistence level economic advantage is simply ignorant and ignores decades of wanton killing of African species by Westerners on organized hunts and safaris.

    The constant refrain regarding corrupt governments in Africa also grates. Many government decisions in African countries which adversely impact the environment and wild life are made at the behest of and for the benefit of multi-national corporations often backed by Western governments in the US and Europe. Instead of gunning down animals for sport, try spending some time lobbying US based MNCs to adopt environment friendly business practices in Africa.

    In the end, the man featured here is free to do as he likes but please do not look for some noble excuse to justify your recreational pursuits. That you dare imagine Africans as indifferent to conservation makes one wonder how much interaction you have had with the native population in any African country. Please understand that much local initiative is underway to protect African wild life. We are not all waiting for you to come and save us.

    Michael Williams on August 2, 2010 3:46 PM:

    This post makes me just want to do away with comments forever. This conversation is worse than something I would read in the comments on The New York Times website.

    JT on August 2, 2010 4:24 PM:

    It is quite easy to talk shit from behind a computer. If the majority of these naysayers were in Audwin’s home, they would drink his pricey rum and keep the comments to themselves.

    Paige on August 2, 2010 4:52 PM:

    As a native Alabamian working in NYC, I really appreciate the creativity coming out of Florence/Tuscumbia. With Audwin Pierre McGee, Billy Reid, Natalie Chanin and the GAS Design Center…really cool things are happening there.

    Matt on August 2, 2010 5:24 PM:

    Wonder if he keeps those guns in the corner in the last frame loaded?

    Joan on August 2, 2010 6:51 PM:

    Anyone who wears leather shoes, has a leather sofa or buys a hamburger anywhere should recognize the hypocrisy. Hunting feeds people and protects widlife, and most hunters are enviromentalist and conservationist. Whether you view hunting as a sport, or not, it is far more humane and natural than commercial processes used for meat, and leather.

    Raeley on August 3, 2010 12:39 AM:

    Uncle Audwin is a pretty cool laid back guy, I should know ;) He has a deep respect for wildlife, you see it when he tells his stories about his African adventures (:
    Joan, very good point.

    sule on August 3, 2010 12:58 AM:

    BMA’s comment was spot on. I’ve hunted in the American south with guys like Audwin and yes, they’re some cool dudes with stories for days. It’s probably somewhat dissimilar though because many of these guys grew up hunting for food; many were poor and shooting animals was a family necessity. Now many of them do it more as a pastime for the nostalgia and fellowship, and killing something is kind of secondary. That’s what a couple of people were getting at I think…this celebration of killing. I personally don’t know too many people that can afford to hunt big game in Africa; they’re all like retired from the post office or farming or defunct factories or something. Regardless, my personal hunt culture doesn’t involve double-guns and wine-and-cheese or helicopter shuttles to remote wildland preserves, but I get why people are into this version.

    Hunting goes back a long way in my family too, and when we do it (I think) we understand full well all the implications. BMA was simply raising an interesting point about “white privilege” in the context of big-game hunting, colonization, etc. Maybe those are bad words around here, and nobody likes to talk about the dirty origins of what even I’d deem a pretty awesome sport, but it’s reality. And like it or not, many of these really interesting Americana/craft-culture-whatever-you-wanna-call-’em blogs kind of feed off these mythologies. What’s sad is when they leave out the unfortunate bits, keeping things unnaturally superficial for the sake of a narrative of nobility in a simpler time.

    I love Hemingway and pith helmets as much as the next guy, but come on, some bad things went down that set the stage for these modern hardships. The string of canards presented above are downright ludicrous for anyone with a modicum of knowledge of African political and environmental history. It’s amazing anyone still trots them out as fact. We’d all do well to acknowledge the deeds and talk it out so we can evolve as a species. But I guess everyone just wants to hear how awesome Audwin’s loft is. On that note, thanks for the pics; he’s got great taste.

    Audwin on August 3, 2010 2:27 AM:

    The report “Open Season – The Burgeoning Illegal Ivory Trade in Tanzania and Zambia” is being released by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a non-profit group based in Washington, DC and London. EIA undercover investigators recently visited Tanzania and Zambia and returned with harrowing first-hand evidence documenting a flourishing trade in illegal ivory in both countries, often exacerbated by official corruption.
    Tanzania’s elephant population declined by more than 30,000 elephants between 2006 and 2009, primarily from poaching to supply black-market ivory to Asia. Rampant poaching is concentrated around the Selous Game Reserve where 40% of Tanzania’s elephants are located. In 2009 several major seizures totaling some 12 tons of ivory occurred in Asia. DNA studies from earlier seizures of Tanzanian ivory in Asia has shown that much of the ivory originated from the Selous.

    An Angler on August 3, 2010 9:30 AM:

    A great deal of the conservation work in the US and elsewhere is done by hunters and anglers who enjoy being in the outdoors and who work hard to preserve the environments in which their sports are practiced. Some culling of herds by humans is necessary as other human activities reduce the natural predators that keep wildlife in balance. Failure to reduce such populations itself has consequences. It’s not just the leather-shoe wearing, hamburger eating commenters who should consider the effects of their choices, but those who drive cars, use plastic, have children, purchase textiles made overseas, consume agricultural products grown with fertilizers and pesticides…… Glass houses and stones, people.

    jk terry on August 3, 2010 9:45 AM:

    Oh, if only we could all be self-loathing, boring, intellectuals. Why all of the hangups and chatter about hunting? And whether that is why Michael refered to him as a “Badass?” Hell, I could probably whip his scrawney ass (on account of his gimpy shoulder). The fact his he didn’t refer to himself as a “Badass.” Michael did. The hunting thing is such a minor part of the complexity of AP McGee. Except for a few guinea fowl in Northern Mozambique, I’ve never hunted with him. But, we’ve cooked alot of great food, drunk too much whisk(e)y and wine, listened to scores of CD’s, critiqued our favorite books and artists, and been close to going to jail on at least one occaision. Audwin McGee isn’t even necessarily one of a kind. His old man was the original. What a trip and what a pleasure to call a man like him a friend. Those who can’t are poorer for the lack of experiencing such a friend, and AP probably doesn’t give much of a shit what ya’ll think about him anyway. So, I’d suggest climbing down off your collective intellectual high-horses and try getting a life of your own. Cheers aye, JKT

    By the way – Nice mention of “A Continuous Lean” in this morning’s Wall Street Journal.

    Gordon Ye Ole General Store on August 3, 2010 2:59 PM:

    Michael, it’s another well done, and very interesting blog. Good pictures. Audwin is a very talented artist.

    Eric Channing Brewer on August 3, 2010 5:18 PM:

    I love the comments on this post. It’d be bored silly if everyone in unison spoke about how well Mr. McGee’s residence is decorated. Anyone can make assumptions about the kind of man Mr, McGee appears to be and I it’s all fair to do so here but if there’s anyone here who would turn down an invitation to eat with him and listen to his stories, I’m sure there’s always a copy of dwell at the nearest wholefoods. I’d go for the invitation.

    I’ve biked from Nairobi Kenya to Arusha Tanzania with a one legged Kenyan, made eye contact with a waterbuffalo from 10 yards away and nearly ended up in jail for a perceived offense against the Tanzanian president. I shared a meal with an exiled American Black Panther who lives there in an equally amazing looking residence. He wasn’t perfect either but there was a certain Badass quality to him compared to 99% of the comfy cube dwellers I come across daily. It’s all relative but it would be no fun if we never ventured to use the phrase “Badass” unless discussing roman gladiators and U.S. military sharpshooters!

    I’ll drink to imperfect men with cool homes, great stories and interests worth debating. Thanks again for sharing, Michael.

    Nick on August 4, 2010 1:44 AM:

    Inspiring to know people are out there givin’ ‘er. He evidently doesn’t kill predators – this is an important point. Reminds me of Doug Peacock a bit, without the activism – “It is important to have organic ceremonies. My culture doesn’t have a tradition of these things anymore but we badly need them, so I just make up my own. There is a lot to be learned from people who live closer to the land and who have a richer spiritual life than we do.” Fuck yes. Plus his art is fantastical, I love it. Seems like a good dude who might possibly be somewhat exhausting to hang out with at length. But maybe not. Great post anyway.

    Nick. on August 4, 2010 2:13 AM:

    oh, wow… just read the comments. scratch that ‘exhausting’ remark; also ‘without the activism.’ which makes me think, some of these posts might benefit (and the comments section might clean up its act) from an extra paragraph each about the ethical ramifications of, you know, stuff. i mean, the workwear revival in fashion is in large part a fraught proposition, you must agree. you create a wide, deep gray area when you start to “honor” the craftsmanship of coal miners by creating a replica “Coal Bag” for $100 or whatever, to sell to people who essentially package mortgage-backed securities and are currently foreclosing on coal miners’ houses. i mean, fashion is really weird, man. design, slightly less so. a paragraph on Mr. McGee’s conservation efforts in this post, and his general attitude about making a difference, may have made douchebag internet naysayers think twice. (although having lived in Cape Town for a year and taken a month’s worth of walking safaris in Hwange Park in Zimbabwe, i understand that Africa is even more complex racially, economically, and environmentally than the American South, so you just have to expect a bit of disagreement. a LOT of people have been deeply hurt on all sides.) just a thought. it’s like, when you read Hemingway’s biography, you get a human perspective. the guy had some real problems and hurt most of the people he loved, and had a deeply weird childhood. his talent and the beauty of his work is starkly opposed to the fuckedness of his middle age and later life. i still read him all the time, even the bad stuff, love it, it’s beautiful, and then try to appreciate the whole person. anyway thanks again for the great material.

    janelle on August 5, 2010 1:15 AM:

    mbwahahaha….you’ve gotta love it. my grandfather was a nasty colonial hunter, my dad was one too, although managed to walk the walk into post colonialism, and am presently married to a hunter today. (i can’t shoot a gun but i can sure ride a horse) i reckon he’s one of the world’s best conservationists, informed and intellectual. no sentimental gush. i wear ivory. (it was my mother’s. she died a while back. it dates back to 1970 zambia). except not at the markets. everyone can tell its real and they want it. i’m an african. today i would safely confirm that governments generally don’t give a shit about wildlife. or environment. until people at grassroots level have education, health and clean running water this ain’t gonna change, no sirree. the level of poverty is astounding. how can anyone care about elephant or hard woods when your kids are starving and you’re scraping the dust to make it into the next day? until government becomes responsible to people, kiss it all goodbye. as one old man i met the other day said (he was a dead ringer for mandela) “isn’t it amazing that there is a bomba (pipe) all the way from dar es salaam to zambia filled with oil but no bomba here (near arusha) with clean water for people?” great blog by the way. toodely. janelle

    Richard Austin on August 5, 2010 2:42 AM:

    And I thought the Miller High Life debate was intense! Want a strange recipe? Show some beautiful pictures of blood sports to a forum of folks with liberal art degrees…. my fave pontificator being sule, of the “I’ve hunted with guys like him before in the American south” comment whose great observation was “What’s sad is when they leave out the unfortunate bits, keeping things unnaturally superficial for the sake of a narrative of nobility in a simpler time.” Dude, it’s a military surplus duffle bag I put my laundry in, but wait its Viet-Nam era… is there a meta-narrative there or wait over here, I mean the fact that we are all on the web, reading a site dedicated to helping us make aesthetically responsible choices with our disposable income while somewhere on the Bayou a man who failed his GED is choking on Chinese-farmed shrimp…. doesn’t that really prove we aren’t real folk so should

    What was I saying? Oh, yeah. Do we have to overthink everything? Guy has style, btw. Thanks for the site.

    CP on August 5, 2010 10:58 AM:

    I wonder if this guy ever gets tired of hanging out with a bunch of people who all go by there first and middle names.

    I wonder if going by your first and middle makes you more badass?

    CP on August 5, 2010 10:58 AM:


    Eric Channing Brewer on August 6, 2010 2:35 PM:

    My first, middle and last name makes for more accurate google searches for anyone interested. There’s the badass crossdressing mayor of Cleveland, the badass UC Berkeley professor/ tech start up wiz and the badass professional hockey player among others who share my first and last name.

    Lizzie on August 9, 2010 2:15 AM:

    holy shit

    Yaun on August 9, 2010 4:23 PM:

    Some of these comments are unreal, especially the one about biking from Kenya to Tanzania with a one legged Kenyan…I have visions of a tandem bike tour – two pedals up front, unicycle in back.

    Yaun on August 9, 2010 6:48 PM:

    that makes no sense – I mean sewing machine pedal in back

    Eric Channing Brewer on August 10, 2010 2:20 PM:

    Two men, two bikes, two days, 200 miles and three legs between us. I was the one often riding in the back. Ibrahim Wafula = badass. It’s the most succinct way to describe him.

    He taught himself how to ride a Black Mambo (steel Chinese made utilitarian 45 lb bike) with one leg and eventually began training so that he could race his Black Mambo in a mountainbike race against western riders with suspension equipped mountainbikes.

    I helped him get a prosthetic leg in the U.S. and he entered the Leadville 100 mountain bike race 6 months after learning how to walk and ride a bike with it.

Comments are closed.