Danny Bolton smiles at the camera while wearing camo and a black beanie in front of a vehicle.

Danny Bolton: When Bowhunting Got Too Close for Comfort

Hear a gripping encounter in Hawaii’s mountains, where strategy and primal instinct converge in a harrowing moment of survival and respect for nature.

Every hunter has a story about a close encounter with a wild animal, whether it features a charging buck or an angry bear. It’s what you do in the heat of that moment that tips the balance — sometimes between life and death.

Let me tell you my story.

Quote: Danny Bolton: When Bowhunting Got Too Close for Comfort

When Bowhunting Got Too Close for Comfort

I was bowhunting way up in Hawaii’s mountains, and my goal for the day was to go out and get some meat. I was cresting a hill. Crawling silently over the top so as not to expose my position, I surveyed the terrain below.

A solo ram was feeding in a large, open field. He was about 400 yards out — too far for a good bow shot. I couldn’t move from that position without giving myself away, so I lay there and watched him wander. 

Eventually, he dipped out of my view. I took that opportunity to grab my things and head towards him. I had an arrow knocked in my bow, ready to shoot. I expected him to be about 30 or 40 yards away as I came up over the ridge. 

Unfortunately, he was gone. In the time it took me to get off the hill and get over to his position, he could have gone anywhere. Maybe he heard a noise that spooked him. I assumed he’d moved on.

But I had a strange feeling. It was odd that he ran off without seeing me, and there weren’t any places for him to hide nearby.

I moved slowly, expecting him to pop up in a ravine or ditch I couldn’t see. Within 15 yards of the spot I’d last seen him, I spotted a patch of wool in the grass.

I picked over the area and noticed an indent in the hillside. The pigs had dug out a little bed about a foot down from the ridge I was on, and he was resting there. 

The elevation change was strange, and I couldn’t get a clear shot with my bow. My instinct was to grab him. I don’t know what I was thinking — hunting isn’t a wrestling match, and grabbing doesn’t put meat in the freezer. I knew I wouldn’t be able to choke him out.

I stopped to think. I had my knife in my bag. I put my bow down, grabbed my knife, and didn’t think much past that. I was working on a very primal instinct.

Making the Kill

I snuck up to his location, setting each footstep down softly so as not to make noise. He was still bedded in the nest. As I got closer, I could see that his head was to my left and his back was facing me. His feet faced away.

I held my knife in my right hand. Originally, I carried it like one would hold a knife to cut vegetables, but that wouldn’t work. I flipped it around, slasher-movie-style, and I felt ready.

I thought, ‘If I plunge this knife into its vitals, where do I put the rest of my body? When I strike, he’ll want to jump up and fight with his horns. I need to protect myself from those, so I need to get my left hand on his horns before I stick this knife in.’

I positioned my body where I needed to. Then, I grabbed his horn and shoved my knife into the same place I’d aim with a bow. 

He jumped up, pushing me back. I still had his horn in my left hand, but he circled me, twisting it out of my grip. Everything happened in slow motion. I was in the zone.

I thought about grabbing him again, but I knew it was unnecessary — I had the upper hand. Even if he rammed me, as long as I could keep myself upright, I’d be fine. I had to keep my head out of his way, but short of that, he couldn’t touch me.

I decided to let him run. I knew I’d hit home with my knife, and it was only a matter of time before he ran out of steam.

Things proceeded exactly as they would have if I’d shot him broadside: He ran 20 yards in less than 10 seconds, then fell over.

It tripped me out for a while after, how easy it happened. It was even easier than it would have been with a bow because of that impossible shot. 

Looking Back...

I’m still amazed by how easily I took that ram down — easier than I would have with a bow.

The experience was deeply primal and very unexpected. The hunt didn’t go exactly as planned, but I was successful. I brought home the meat I was pursuing, and I didn’t get hurt.

Infographic: Danny Bolton: When Bowhunting Got Too Close for Comfort


I learned just how dangerous knives can be. That ram died in a matter of seconds. It renewed my fear of, and respect for, well-crafted blades.

The experience also taught me what I’m capable of as a human and as a hunter. I doubt I’ll ever need to do it again, but it’s nice to know it’s possible. 

I don’t recommend close kills — I prefer the safety and distance a bow provides. But if I do find myself in a position where I need to get meat by any means necessary, I know I have options.

And, of course, I have to thank my MKC Stonewall Skinner — the knife that made the kill.


with Danny Bolton, hunter, father, coffee connoisseur, off-roader, adventurer, and friend of MKC.