Wally Johnson – The Last Ivory Hunter


Wally Johnson (r) discusses his Winchester Model 70 with Joe Coogan.
Wally Johnson (r) discusses his Winchester Model 70 with Joe Coogan.

Wally Johnson’s Winchester Model 70, .375, serial no. 13997, was produced during the first week of December in 1938. When Winchester first introduced the Model 70 in 1937, it became the first American rifle manufacturer to include the .375 H&H Magnum caliber in it’s line-up. From 1937 to 1939, only 438 .375s came out of Winchester’s New Haven factory. However, no. 13997 would go on to have a hunting career that few, if any Model 70s in any caliber, could match. It is likely that no other Model 70 was ever used to take more head of game, and especially dangerous game, than Wally Johnson’s Model 70, .375. In 1928 the 14-year-old Johnson began his lifelong hunting career. By the mid-1940s, he was primarily hunting ivory, often taking friends and acquaintances who wanted to hunt along with him. In 1956 Johnson began conducting profes-sional hunting safaris and in 1960 joined Mozambique Safarilandia. During his professional hunting career, he guided Warren Page, Fred Huntington of RCBS, Peter Barrett, Fred Bear, Arthur Godfrey, Jack Lott, Robert Ruark and many other notable hunters of the day. Many of these, including Ruark and Lott hunted with Johnson numerous times. Johnson also hunted professionally in Botswana, Zambia and Central Africa into the early 80s. In 1982 when he was over 70 years old, Johnson conducted his last professional safari in Zambia with his client Hank Williams Jr. In 1988 Peter Hathaway Capstick authored the book “The Last Ivory Hunter” about Johnson’s life of hunting in Mozambique.

 

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