White Hunter
Obsession knife

25

The Puma White Hunter is a classic German-made knife with an unusual
and recognizable blade and stag handle. Dave waited 40 years to get one.

I may have been the ripe old age of 12 the first time I saw an advertisement in an outdoor periodical touting a German-made knife called the “White Hunter” by Puma.

Immediately, I wanted one. The 6” blade was odd-shaped, thin in the middle but widening up toward the tip with an almost-round profile featuring a drop point, upswept cutting edge and — back along the edge toward the handle — about an inch of serrations. On top, just ahead of the bolster was a serrated thumb rest. It had beautiful stag handle panels on both sides of the full tang and a hole through the handle near the butt for a lanyard.

Here was a knife even a boy could recognize was something special, designed for people who hunted game and personally field-dressed their kill. When I saw the asking price, I just decided to drool a while longer and turn the page. This exercise went on for many months, maybe a couple of years, until I didn’t see the ads anymore, by which time I’d resigned myself to the fact that owning one of these gems was out of the question, and besides, by then I had discovered girls. Eventually, it occurred to me expensive knives were not as much trouble but the Puma White Hunter remained out of my budget.

The Puma White Hunter, introduced in this country in the late 1950s, weighs less than 8.5 ounces but it’s a hefty lightweight. Overall length is 10.63” and the blade thickness is 0.20 inches. It’s a stout knife built for the field.

Dave found this NIB specimen of the famous White Hunter at a gun show in Puyallup, Washington for $95!

Leap ahead about four decades. I’m attending a gun show in Puyallup, a suburb of Tacoma, Washington. It was midday at the Puyallup Fairgrounds and this guy strolls by my table. My eyes immediately fixed on the recognizable sheath on his belt and I spoke up quickly: “White Hunter?”

“Yeah,” he says, “I just bought it for a hundred bucks from a guy. He’s got a couple left.”

It may have been the only time that guy Workman broke the land speed record. I literally blurred across two aisles to where this fellow was seated and there, on the table before him, was a beautiful specimen of Old World craftsmanship. There was a price tag on the box that read $95. Down with a slam went an image of Ben Franklin without even an eye blink. A desire that had haunted me for decades had just been realized.

The transaction complete, I chatted with this old gent. He’d been a knife dealer for many years but now in retirement, he had been cleaning out his garage and came across a handful of knives in a box. They were his property and he could sell them for whatever he wanted, and incredibly, he didn’t want much. Who was I to argue, since I’d seen used ones advertised for many times the amount I paid.

The blade shape makes the White Hunter a classic. Best of all,
the German steel holds an edge.

No “gun person” lives without a knife. It simply does not happen. I’m a worst-case example because I am also a hunter, hiker and sometimes flycaster. The stag grip would go well with either my Ruger New Vaquero in .45 Colt or my Model 57 Smith & Wesson in .41 Magnum. Both frequently wear grips of elk antler from Eagle Grips.

The first time I used this knife was on a hunt along the Snake River in Southeast Washington. A 350-yard cross canyon shot brought down a 2×3-point mule deer buck and the White Hunter made pretty quick work of the field dressing. The buck was left to hang overnight in a barn after removing the hide and next morning, we boned it out. The knife did not lose its edge (deer hair is tough on a sharp knife), and after a good wash in hot, soapy water the blade got a few strokes on a diamond sharpener, whether needed or not.

I put the factory sheath away and built a leather field sheath because I expected it would take a beating. It certainly has.

Dave put the factory sheath safely away and knocked together this
simple field sheath. The White Hunter is a well-balanced knife measuring
more than 10” overall with a 6.1” blade.

While writing this piece, I checked some Internet sites and found White Hunter knives ranging in price from under $200 to more than $800, depending upon condition. Some of these blades are well used. The more expensive models were New-in-box, highly polished, and the owners were definitely proud of their property.

I have now owned the knife for more than 15 years. It has taken off several deer hides, sliced up a lot of venison and remains a great tool with which I hope to never part.

Dreams can come true. I’m living proof.

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