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That Time Hunter S. Thompson Stole Hemingway’s Elk Antlers

An Unlikely Connection: Hemingway and Thompson’s Elk Antlers

Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson, two legendary figures in American literature, once crossed paths indirectly through elk antler theft.

Hemingway died in 1961, while Thompson was building his professional career. It’s unlikely the two ever physically crossed paths. Their connection came later when Thompson took an assignment for National Observer, which sent him to Hemingway’s former home in Ketchum, Idaho.

While at the now-empty cabin, Thompson impulsively grabbed a set of 6×6 elk antlers that were hanging over the front door. He took them with him and kept them for decades at his home in Woody Creek, Colorado.

“He knew something had gone wrong with both himself and his writing,” Thompson wrote about Hemingway’s suicide. “Those were ‘the good years,’ and Hemingway never got over the fact that they couldn’t last.”

Anita Thompson, Thompson’s wife at the time of his death, explained in 2016 that her husband “got caught up in the moment. He had so much respect for Hemingway.”

Hunter S. Thompson took his own life in 2005, leaving the antlers still hanging in his garage.

In 2016, 52 years after Thompson stole the trophy from Hemingway, Anita drove those elk antlers back to Ketchum and returned them to their rightful place.

“Those antlers may have been on Thompson’s mind, along with Hemingway himself, in his final days when he decided his ride was over,” wrote The