Defensive Knife Use circa 1903 – killing a lion with a knife

killing a lion with a knife

image via wikimedia: By Bernard DUPONT

I am pulling together an Open Thread/link-dump, but this was too good to not be a standalone post. It comes from Sporting Classics Daily, and is an excerpt from the memoirs of Harry Wolhuter – one of the first Rangers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. He was thrown from his horse, and was being dragged away by the lion that had attacked his mount. He ends up killing the lion, but you will need to visit SCD to read the whole thing.

But then, as our painful progress still continued, it suddenly struck me that I might still have my sheath knife! I always carried this attached to my belt on the right side. Unfortunately, the knife did not fit too tightly in its sheath, and on two previous occasions when I had had a spill from my horse while galloping after game during the Boer War, it had fallen out. It seemed almost too much to expect that it could still be safely there after the recent rough episodes.

It took me some time to work my left hand round my back as the lion was dragging me over the ground, but eventually I reached the sheath, and, to my indescribable joy, the knife was still there! I secured it, and wondered where best first to stab the lion.

Truely a harrowing tale, from a fascinating individual.


Harry Wolhuter was a legendary ranger in the Kruger National Park and completed 44 years of service before retiring in 1948. Born in Beaufort West, Cape, Wolhuter lived a life of freedom in the veld. From the time he could first remember he was a hunter, with a catapult, an air gun, finally graduating to an old muzzle loader. He and his friends made their own gunpowder and percussion caps from match -heads. At 14 he left school and started work in a trading store in Maraisburg, Transvaal. He later became a shepherd, a big game hunter, and, during the Anglo -Boer War a member of the colourful band of mounted soldiers known as Steinacker’s Horse.

In game ranging Wolhuter found his true vocation. During his period of service he had the satisfaction of seeing his reserve, renamed The Kruger National Park, grow into, perhaps, the best – known and most popular wild life sanctuary in the world. He wrote: ” My long experience has taught me that, thrilling through the pleasures of shooting undoubtedly are, infinitely greater and far more lasting pleasure and interest can be obtained from the observation and study of wild animals, unafraid and uninterfered with, in their natural haunts; and I have never regretted my metamorphosis from hunter to guardian!” Tall, spare, but powerfully built; purposeful, for all his quiet voice and unassuming manner, he seemed emblematical of the best type of pioneer hunter.

I dig stuff like this.


  1. Sam L. says:

    Great choice!

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Defensive Knife Use circa 1903 – killing a lion with a knife

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