Hunter S Thompson (L) later admitted he was embarrassed about stealing Hemingway's antlers Reuters/Getty

The widow of Hunter S Thompson has returned a pair of elk antlers to the home of Ernest Hemingway in Ketchum, Idaho more than 52 years after the journalist stole them. In 1964, before he became one of the most famous and influential writers in US history, Thompson worked for a weekly national newspaper, the National Observer.

During his time at the paper, the then 27-year-old reporter travelled to Ketchum with the intention of writing an article about why the intrepid Hemingway chose to live out his final years in a small Idaho town with a population of around 700 people.

While he was there, Thompson - in his usual unpredictable way – decided to take a pair of antlers mounted at the entrance of the home where Hemingway had shot himself three years earlier in 1961. He then took them back to Owl farm, his own "fortified compound" in Aspen, Colorado which later became the scene of Thompson's own death in 2005.

But after the antlers have hung in the garage of Owl Farm for more than 52 years, Anita Thompson has decided to return them to their rightful home in Ketchum. Speaking to Aspen Times, she recounted how "Hunter later regretted" his decision to steal the antlers. She recalled: "Hunter and I planned to take a road trip back to Ketchum and quietly return them. But we never did."

Speaking to BroBible, she added: "He got caught up in the moment. He had so much respect for Hemingway. He was actually very embarrassed by it."

As BroBible notes, a passage in Thompson's article, What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum? describes the Nobel Prize-winning author's "empty house" as a "comfortable looking chalet with a big pair of elk horns over the front-door" which looks almost certain to be the same pair he eventually took.

When asked how Hemingway's family reacted when the antlers were finally handed back, Mrs Thompson said: "They were grateful to have them back. They had heard rumours. Sean Hemingway, the grandson, was the first family member that I'd heard from.

"He spoke with other Hemingway family members and he said that everyone agreed that he should have them. He lives in New York, where he curates a museum."