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Meet Bobcat John. He Sells Knives To Oil Workers.

What’s not to love about Bobcat John? He’s a burly bear of a man who sells knives to oil workers. On the day I met him, he was setting up shop in New Town, North Dakota. He got the name Bobcat because he once owned a pet bobcat, declawed and now deceased. These days he owns a pet lynx named Jinx who sleeps with him when he’s back home in Idaho. Jinx, also declawed, joined Bobcat on a previous trip to North Dakota. The game warden, not mollified by Jinx’s lack of blades, booted them both. “I got escorted to the county line,” he says. “I had to go all the way back home.”

After looking at dozens and dozens of knives and watching Bobcat’s customers examine his wares — one man bought a small set of three throwing knives for $20 — I got to see photos of his pets. “Here’s one of my babies,” he said, reaching for a photo of the lynx. “That’s my new one, Jinx the lynx.”

Bobcat says he once worked as a bricklayer, but is now too worn out to do that work. So he hooks a trailer full of knives to the back of his pickup and travels around hawking spring-assisted knives, pocket knives, throwing knives, skinning knives — all kinds of knives. He came to the oil patch for one simple reason: People here have money. Back home in Idaho, they don’t. “Nobody’s got any money over there,” he says. “The economic conditions in Idaho are horrible.”

In addition to selling knives, Bobcats also makes knives. “It’s better than catching cabin fever. I live up in the mountains. Sometimes I work on them in the winter time when I’m not hunting or fishing.”

— Todd Melby

Photos by James Reeves (top) and Todd Melby

Bobcat's Pet Lynx

Bobcat's Sign

Guys Looking At Knives


 

5 Comments

  1. hvac says:

    G’day:

  2. […] day before, Bobcat John the itinerant knife seller tells us, a woman in a Cadillac Escalade collided with a truck on the […]

  3. […] A big man from Idaho named Bobcat John sells knives from his truck on the side of the road. A motorcycle with a blue-pink glitter pinwheel taped to the handlebars is parked nearby. Todd interviewed Bobcat John. “I’ve never seen so many trucks in one place in my life,” he said. “It gets so dusty, you can hardly see my knives.” Listen to the audio profile here. […]

  4. […] “And have you seen the guy with the knife stand in Williston. Just sells knives. That’s […]

  5. Don says:

    Bobcat, hope your doing ok, went to see you at the Quartzsite show and your neighbor vendor said you were in the hospital (pacemaker problem). Best to you!

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