Jim and R.D. Nolen Impala Horn Hunter, B.R. Hughes Personal Knife (SOLD)

Jim and R.D. Nolen Impala Horn Hunter, B.R. Hughes Personal Knife (SOLD)

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There is a great story behind this Nolen Knives hunting knife, as related to me by B.R. Hughes.  Unfortunately, there is no paperwork 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.  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 after that, 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 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, but a small amount of patina still remains that needs to be polished.  There is some green residue still present on the inside of the strap of the sheath.  The sheath has some storage wear.  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.

Condition:  Excellent Condition
                    Never used, carried, or sharpened

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