Jim and R.D. Nolen Impala Horn Hunter, B.R. Hughes Personal Knife, 1976 Muzzleloader Magazine Rhodesian Game Dept. Safari (SOLD)

Jim and R.D. Nolen Impala Horn Hunter, B.R. Hughes Personal Knife, 1976 Muzzleloader Magazine Rhodesian Game Dept. Safari (SOLD)

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There is a great story behind this Nolen Knives hunting knife, and the provenance to go with it.  This knife is on consignment, and belongs to Billy Ray (B.R.) Hughes, one of the four founders of the American Bladesmith Society.  B.R. has a very colorful past, and is a fixture at many knife shows.  You can read more about him here...B.R. Hughes.

The impala horn handle on this Nolen Hunter was collected by B.R. in 1976 in then Rhodesia, on the first muzzleloading safari sanctioned by the Rhodesian Game Department.  At the time, B.R. was the editor of Muzzleloader Magazine.  The organization leading the safari was the International Sportsmens Adventures Ltd., and they recruited B.R. to head up the hunt.  Included with the knife, as pictured, is the Hunt Africa brochure for July 16 - July 31, 1976, featured as "The Ultimate Muzzleloading Challenge", all for $2,495.00 plus trophy fees.  Interestingly, the Rhodesian Game Dept. allowed only one more muzzleloader hunt in 1977.  It was headed by one of B.R.'s staff writers.  The fact that there was only one other muzzloader safari was likely due to the ongoing Rhodesian Bush War, before the "unrecognized" country of Rhodesia became Zimbabwe in 1980.

At this time, Jim Nolen was President of the Knifemakers' Guild, and a good friend of B.R.  They were hunting buddies, having hunted javelina together in South Texas.  B.R. asked Jim to make him a hunting knife, using the impala horns he took on that African Safari.  B.R. felt that the horns were not trophy quality, so he didn't have them mounted, making them the perfect candidate for a knife handle.  Sadly, Jim took ill with a rare form of cancer in the midst of making the knife, and passed away a few months later.  Months later, Jim's older brother, R.D. Nolen, a well-known knifemaker, came to Corpus Christi, TX to clean out Jim's shop.  He found the impala horns, the correspondence between Jim and B.R., and the unfinished knife.  He finished the knife and sent it to B.R. along with a letter of explanation.  That letter is unfortunately long gone.

The result is this beautiful drop point Impala Horn Hunter, marked "Nolen Knives", and "African Series Impala No. 33".  The real significance being the story behind the knife, and the signed handwritten letter addressed to "me", that B.R. wrote detailing the knife's history.  I will include a copy of that letter, along with the knife and original brochure, to the new owner.

The knife has never been used or re-sharpened.  It is in excellent condition.  The guard and butt cap are nickel silver, and there are black and white spacers forward and aft of the impala horn.  There is file-work the entire length of the blade spine, as well as on the small area at the bottom of the ricasso.  The knife was likely stored in the sheath at some time.  I found green patina on the guard that wiped off easily with a dry cloth.  However, the green residue is still present on the inside of the strap of the sheath.  The sheath has some storage wear and is a bit musty.  B.R. recalled that R.D. made it.  What a great story!  Certainly there's a collector out there who can appreciate how this knife brings together a little history about B.R. Hughes and his muzzleloading days, the Nolen Knives brothers, and the country of then Rhodesia.  It will be shipped in a padded, zippered case.

Condition:  Excellent Condition
                    Never used, carried, or sharpened

  • Overall length:      8 5/8"
  • Blade length:        4"
  • Handle length:      4 5/8"