Image via Unsplash.com- Thomas Bonometti

Jack Abernathy, The Man Who Made A Living Punching Wolves In The Mouth

One man made a successful career based on his unusual method for subduing and capturing wild wolves alive

Andrew Martin
5 min readApr 12, 2022

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Every time you think you’ve heard the wildest way a person makes a living, something else comes along that takes the cake. That being said, try topping Jack “Catch ’Em Alive” Abernathy, a slight man from the turn of the 20th century prairies who supported himself and his family by capturing wild wolves alive by punching them in the mouth.

Abernathy was born in Texas in 1876. A precocious child, his first real job was playing piano in a saloon when he was just 6. He and his brothers were all musical and enjoyed performing in the bar until a gunfight broke out there one day. Although they were all unhurt, their mother no longer allowed them to return.

Since his family struggled to make ends meet, it was imperative that Jack continue to pitch in despite his tender age. He took another job when he was nine as a cowboy. Within two years, he was a full-fledged ranch hand, going on 500-mile cattle drives just like he was an adult.

Hard work and resiliency were all part of Abernathy’s life, and he was still just a youngster of 15 when he discovered the talent on which he would build his future career. One day he was hunting on horseback with several dogs when they were beset upon and attacked by a pack of wolves. One wolf attacked his favorite dog and in a desperate attempt to save his pet the boy leapt off his horse and onto the wolf.

Having performed this physical feat on the spur of the moment, he was unprepared when he found himself literally in the face of a snarling wolf. Without a weapon at the ready, he cocked his fist and delivered a punch to the animal. Amazingly, his fist somehow missed the wolf and went through its open mouth and all the way to the back of its throat. However, to Abernathy’s surprise, instead of his arm immediately being torn off by the powerful jaws, the wolf simply kept its mouth open and remained calm and suddenly docile.

The realization hit Abernathy quickly that for some reason his fist in the wolf’s mouth was what was keeping it calm. A hunting companion came up and hog-tied the…

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Andrew Martin

Dabbler in history, investing & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about history, diversity, culture, sports, investing and crypto.