The Journal of San Diego History
Winter 2000, Volume 46, Number 1
Gregg Hennessey, Editor

Back to the article: Captain Edward William Funcke: Hunting in Baja California for a Living

Edward William Funcke

Edward William Funcke, the most renowned hunting guide in northeastern Baja California at the time and a museum specimen collector. He was regarded as an adventurer or a “soldier of fortune” [Photo *]

Funcke with his wife and two of their children

This early 20th century photo shows Funcke with his wife and two of their children. They had six children, two of whom died at very young ages. [Photo *]

The Imperial Valley town of Calexico served as both home and departure spot into Mexico for Funcke during his years as a professional hunter. [Photo 8491-1]


Funcke crossed into Mexicali and picked up his pack animals and supplies at Long’s Cattle Company. As of 1910 Mexicali, with its forty bars, brothels and gambling dens, had already earned a bad reputation. [Photo 14278]

Esteban Cantu (second from left) was both Governor and military leader in Baja California and provided a special license to Funcke for hunting. During his hunting years, Edward William became known as the most important hunting guide of bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelopes in northeastern Baja California. [Photo UT people: Cantu, circa 1922]

After crossing the border at Mexicali, Funcke would head southwest for most of his hunting. On his solo expedition in 1917, he killed five pronghorns with a single bullet each, but he did not hesitate to use seven bullets to kill another one. His ability as a hunter allowed him to take only forty cartridges to kill six or eight pronghorns in twenty days.

This detailed sketch of 1917 shows where much of Funcke’s hunting was centered. Redrawn from Murphy 1917, by author. Funcke possessed perhaps a more practical knowledge of the Mexican half of the Colorado Desert than any other American. He had an overall knowledge of the peninsula geography and big game distribution, and drew a map of the game ranges (bighorn, pronghorn and deer), and provided information for Edward W. Nelson’s map of Baja California.

Funcke’s hunting permit. Funcke’s specialty was big game with occasional outings for small game. According to one of his grandsons he guided many renowned people, including western-novelist Zane Grey. [Photo  *]

Funcke kept his own records of his hunting as this sheet from 1911-12 shows. [Photo  *]

Funcke (left) and Garrett S. Miller of the National Musem with a buck mule deer killed forty miles south of Calexico ca. 1913-15. [Photo  *]

* Photographs provided by the Funcke family. All other photos are from the San Diego History Center Photograph Collection.