headhunters knot

Headhunter’s knot

In this tutorial I demonstrate how to tie the headhunter’s knot.

The headhunter’s knot is one of those knots that I instantly liked. The stairstep pattern in the middle and a nice turk’s head look make the knot look exotic. The knot is fairly uncommon for some reason, but it is not hard to tie. I really enjoyed tying this knot and I thought I’d share.

The knot is featured in a few books, Bruce Grant’s Encyclopedia of rawhide and leather braiding and Ron Edward’s Round knots and braids come to mind.

In this tutorial we will be tying a 7 lead, 6 bight version of the knot.

headhunters-knot-around-a-bottleheadhunter's knot up close


A quick story

Bruce Grant mentions how the tribal chieftain who passed the knowledge of the knot ensured that anyone passing the knot on would invoke a terrible curse from the tribe. Bruce Grant mentioned that he worked out the knot for himself though. I have also not learned this knot from a chieftain, so this primitive copyright is invalid (I hope :)).

Supplies/items needed

I recommend the following items for tying the knot:

  • a mandrel or some object to tie the knot on. I usually use a small length of a broomstick handle or a piece of a PVC pie for this purpose.
  • paracord. I use gutted paracord, it lays nice and flat.
  • a lacing needle. Although not a must, I highly recommend using one, it makes the work faster and more enjoyable. See the tutorial on how to make one, if you prefer making your own tools.
  • a rubber band is also quite handy to hold the standing end.


The tutorial

We will start by attaching the lacing needle to our paracord and attaching the cord to the mandrel using a rubber band (see the setup below).

Note how we increase the overs and unders when forming the knot. Once you have seen the pattern, the knot can be tied without a runlist.

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (1 of 13)

We now make a bight at the top by turning the cord from top to bottom.

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (2 of 13)

We wrap the cord around the mandrel and pass over the working end (O1)

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (3 of 13)

Continue by passing under the standing end (U1). This will create a bight at the bottom.

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (4 of 13)

We wrap around again and cross over two cords (O2)

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (5 of 13)

Then under two (U2)

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (6 of 13)

We now go under one and over two (U1-O2)

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (7 of 13)

Then over one and under two (O1-U2)

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (8 of 13)

Continue under two and over two (U2-O2)

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (9 of 13)

Then over two and under two (O2-U2)

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (10 of 13)

We now go down, over one then under two and again over two (O1-U2-O2)

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (11 of 13)

We continue up, under one then over two and under two (U1-O2-U2)

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (12 of 13)

Finally, in the last pass we go over two, then under two and over two (O2-U2-O2)

headhunters-knot-tutorial-step (13 of 13)

With this the knot is tied and the working end is tucked next (or on top) of the standing end, in this case I go under two.

As you can see, the knot was not hard to tie at all. Now all there is left to do it to tighten it and enjoy this beautiful knot! I hope this tutorial got you a great looking result!

Be sure to also see the video tutorial:

About Markwell

I am a defense science graduate. I like to create beautiful things out of paracord.


  1. Hi, i have only just started with paracord and I love your site. But First I’ll give you some background, I decided to learn it because I bought a small farm wich has an old blacksmith workshop ( the biggest reason why I bought the place), I’ve been wanting to try and to learn blacksmithing for many years and when I stumbled upon this place last summer i didn’t think twice. But the reason for learning paracord, is that I’m planning to make some knives and similar things both for myself and a few good friends, but since I don’t work with wood I’ll use paracord for the handles. But I would love it if you could write how long the pieces of cord you are using are, it would be of enormous help to me because I want to discard as little as possible. Partly because I live in Norway (import and insane taxes makes cord expensive), and I’m not working because I’m on disability payment @ the age of 34… One last thing, if you could show what and how you finish the ends on knots i would be thankful. And if you want to see my creations, now and after I’ve fired up the kilm(?) just send me an email and I’ll send you some pictures…
    Sincerely Johan Resell
    aka Crazy Norwegian VIKING.

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