What do you know about the most badass bounty hunters in history? From Boba Fett in “Star Wars” to the Terminator in, well, “Terminator,” bounty hunters are, without a doubt, totally cool. Unfortunately, all those awesome bounty hunters are just works of fiction, right? After all, no reasonably sane person would risk life and limb chasing after dangerous criminals for a living. Well, as it turns out, not only do real, famous bounty hunters exist, but they’re awesome enough to give any fictional merc a run for their money. Now, whether you find them awe-inspiring or terrifying, here are 15 of the most badass bounty hunters in history that would make even Boba Fett swoon.
The Dunn Brothers
No, not the coffee brand. The Dunn Brothers were a gang brothers who ran a boarding house in Pawnee, Oklahoma and occasionally dabbled in bounty hunting as well as some more shady business such as cattle rustling and robbery.
They are best known for killing two members of notorious criminal Bill Doolin’s outlaw gang the “Wild Bunch” and collecting the $5,000 bounty for each. The oldest of the Dunn brothers, Bill, also aided Deputy U.S. Marshall Heck Thomas in tracking and putting down Bill Doolin himself, ending the Wild Bunch once and for all.
Thomas Tate Tobin
Thomas Tate Tobin was a frontiersman, trapper, and bounty hunter active in the mid 19th century United States. He’s known to have taken part in the Mexican-American War, most specifically in the Taos Revolt where he narrowly avoided death.
In the early 1860s, he became a bounty hunter after singlehandedly putting an end to the reign of terror brought on by the notorious Mexican outlaws, Felipe and Julian Espinosa, whose heads he brought back in a sack. He never collected the whole reward of $2,500 for the job, but he did go on to bring in a number of other Mexican and Native American outlaws in the years following.
Nicknamed the “Dry Wolf”, Millard Gardner was a Texan police chief and bounty hunter during the prohibition era United States. He was known as a sort of boogeyman to bootleggers and moonshiners at the time.
Gardner raided a number of speakeasies and moonshine sills and set a record for the thousands of gallons of illegal alcohol he confiscated and poured out. A medical issue required him to retire from bounty hunting in 1927, but the legends of the Dry Wolf continued to live on for some time after his retirement.
Originally getting his start in professional wrestling, David Schultz AKA “Dr. D,” gained notoriety in 1984 after striking a reporter twice in the head during an interview after they implied that pro-wrestling was fake.
The event had a notable effect on the wrestler’s career and he eventually left it behind to pursue a new line of business—bounty hunting. Schultz’s time as a bail recovery agent took him as far as Puerto Rico and even Egypt, and by the time of his retirement he had made over 1,700 arrests and worked closely with both the FBI and DEA.
There are few men with as quite as varied a life as James Kirker, an Irish immigrant to the United States who over the course of his life found work as a soldier, mercenary, merchant, and privateer, as well as a number of other odd jobs here and there.
His most infamous and well-known dealings, however, was when he spent a number of years as a scalp hunter for the Mexican government, charged with hunting down, killing, and scalping Apache raiders in Mexico, as well as taking women and children prisoners. He excelled at this. At one point, he became so successful that the nearly bankrupt government branded him a traitor and forced him to flee the country because they could not afford to pay him for his work.
Patrick Floyd Garrett, also known as Pat, was an old west lawman and customs agent in New Mexico during the late 19th century. He was appointed Lincoln County Sheriff in 1880 and immediately set his sights on apprehending his old gambling buddy, Billy the Kid.
Kid had a $500 bounty on his head for anyone who could capture him. Pat followed his old friend the Kid for some time, even managing to capture him at one point, before finally confronting him him in 1881 and shooting him through the chest. Although many viewed Pat as a hero, he never received his bounty money as it specified that the Kid be captured alive. Much of the community vilified him for ambushing the Kid in what was seen as an “unfair killing,” and as a result Garrett would lose his re-election as sheriff and eventually move to Texas.
When you picture a bounty hunter, the first image that comes to mind usually isn’t 4’11” and under 100 lbs. That didn’t stop Michelle Gomez, however. Running her own business in Texas, Michelle is what’s known as a “skip tracer,” a kind of specialized bounty hunter who excels in finding extremely hard to locate criminals.
Her job is all digital. Searching the web for the digital signatures, social media presence, and criminal financial records, she tracks it all with a computer, making her able to find targets that nobody else can. Michelle is often compared to those expert computer hackers you see on crime shows except, in this case, she’s the real deal.
When Charlie Siringo got bored of the merchant life, he packed up his life and moved from his home in Caldwell, Kansas to the Windy City itself to find work as a private investigator. He landed a job with Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency, where he worked as a detective and bounty hunter for over twenty years.
His cases took him across the Western United States, as far north as Alaska, and as far south as Mexico City, chasing robbers and outlaw gangs. At one point he even infiltrated Butch Cassidy’s notorious Train Robbers Syndicate using a pseudonym and fake identity. Over time, Siringo came to be known as the “Cowboy Detective,” a name owned when he wrote his own biography using the aforementioned nickname as the title.
Balthasar Gérard was a French Catholic and an admirer of King Philip II of Spain. So, when Philip offered a 25,000 crown bounty for anybody willing to assassinate his political enemy, the Dutch revolutionary and Protestant Prince William the Silent, Gérard jumped at the opportunity.
He disguised himself, snuck into William’s congregation, and fired two shots into the prince’s back. Gérard ran, hoping to leap into the moat, but guards captured before he could make it. Four days later, his captors brutally executed him by being quartered, disemboweled alive, and beheaded. Despite his death, King Philip honored his promise and rewarded Gérard’s surviving family with three country estates and noble titles.
Following his kidnapping by an Apache tribe at the age of 12, young Felix Telles spent the rest of his teenage years raised as an Apache warrior. Later in life, he joined the U.S. Army’s Apache Scouts, where he earned the reputation of being an excellent scout and crack shot with a revolver. Eventually, he received the nickname of “Mickey Free” from his fellow soldiers.
Mickey would eventually go on to become a successful bounty hunter, bagging a number of high-bounty criminals. At one point, he trailed the notorious Apache Kid, who had a reward of $15,000 on his head at the time. Whether or not Mickey successfully caught him, however, depends on who you ask.
Standing at six foot two inches and weighing over 300 pounds, there is no doubt that the American bounty hunter Ralph “Papa” Thorson was quite a terrifying man to be on your trail.
He caught more than 12,000 fugitives over the course of his 40+ year career. Surprisingly, he also opened his own home to many of the criminals he brought in, finding them jobs as well as offering them financial support or counseling.
Sadly, he was killed in a car bombing in 1994. His bounty hunting business as well as his desire to rehabilitate delinquents lived on under the watch of his wife Dottie and daughter Brandi.
Also known as Seán na Sagart, meaning “John of the Priests,” John Mullowney was a notorious priest hunter during the era of the Penal Laws in Ireland, charged with hunting down Catholic priests who refused to reform to Protestantism to avoid his own execution for violence, theft, and being a generally bad person.
As a priest hunter, Mullowney had even fewer morals than in his lawbreaking days, reportedly turning in a estimated 2,000 priests using underhanded techniques such as manipulating his family, or pretending to be deathly ill and calling for a priest to confess his sins to, only to pull out a hidden knife and kill his confessor.
He became one of the most widely hated men in Ireland. At the time and, upon his death, was buried under an ash tree which was named after him. It’s known for its misshapen branches that never bear fruit.
At one point, working as a model in England, Domino Harvey grew bored of her safe, non-life-threatening jobs and moved to the United States to do something more exciting. After spending some time as a volunteer firefighter for a while, she found a career she truly excelled in bounty hunting.
Domino was one of very few female bail recovery agents to be working in the mid 1990’s and, according to her employers, one of the best. The 2005 movie “Domino,” starring Keira Knightly, was inspired by her life. Unfortunately, she never lived to see its release. She passed away of a drug overdose just a couple of months before.
John Riley Duncan
The stereotypical Old Western bounty hunter with a wide brimmed cowboy hat and revolver on their hip is, for the most part, a fictional product of our romanticized image of Frontier-Era America. However, if any man truly did embody that stereotype, it was John Riley Duncan.
Duncan was a renowned lawman and detective in Dallas, Texas during the late 19th century who signed on with the Texas Rangers to hunt down one of the states most wanted criminals at the time— the infamous Wes Hardin.
Duncan tracked the fugitive all the way to Florida before finally catching him and serving justice once and for all. Afterwards, Duncan split with the Texas Rangers and became a solo bounty hunter, adding at least 20 more bad guys to his list of captured criminals before finally settling down.
Charietto was an ancient German headhunter employed by the future Roman emperor Julian the Apostle to sneak into the camps of barbarian invaders at night, decapitate them in their sleep, and return with their heads in exchange for a reward. Little is known about who we was and where he came from, but we know that he was active during the 4th century CE, likely between the years of 356 and 357.
Face it, you love history. That’s why you need to read 25 Biggest Mysteries Of History