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BikerRN's picture
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TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF HUNTING KNIVES

 

TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

OF 

KNIVES

 

 

As one assembles the gear to partake in hunting endeavors they often are faced with needing to buy a knife.

 

In times past a man was considered undressed if he was knifeless and would no more walk out the front door  to go to work without his pants as to be without a knife. In today’s more genteel society we have people that are not only knifeless but think hamburger comes from the Meat Section of the Grocery Store and not from a bovine animal. Being that I have carried a knife since I was a wee tot does give me some insight in to knives but it by no means makes me an expert. The only thing I consider myself an expert on is me, and me alone.

 

I received my first knife as a Christmas present when I was five and promptly proceeded to cut my thumb. Momma of course took it away and proceeded to holler at Daddy. I got the knife back the following Christmas and made sure I didn’t cut myself. In my day, while I’m not an old fart yet, one could carry a knife to school and it was sort of expected. My how times have changed.

 

Being that I have gutted a cow, field dressed for you more gentlemanly types, with a three bladed Trapper I will give you what insight I can. One can often tell the neophyte hunter by his knife. It is the largest blade in camp. It is often the dullest too. A knife needs to be sharp to do it’s job unless you plan on using it as a Screwdriver. Knives are for cutting not for prying, twisting, or screwing. One can adequately field dress a deer using the blade on a Leatherman Tool I can proudly report. On the subject of sharpness, a sharp knife is a safer knife. One will exert less energy to complete the cutting task and is less apt to slip and cut themselves.

 

Sharpness of the blade, to me, is more important than size. I would much rather have a smaller, but sharp, blade than a larger but dull blade. I find fixed or locking blades to be beneficial. The reason I cut myself as a kid was because the knife closed on my thumb. With a fixed or locking blade one doesn’t have to worry about the knife closing on them. It also helps if one pays attention to which way the blade is facing in relation to how they are holding it but sometimes things happen.

 

To me knives with a compass, metal coil saw, or other implements with or in them are a distraction. Plain, clean, and simple seems to be the most useful. Saws are a different issue and some form of saw is handy if one is going to quarter their game in the field but I would much rather carry a small saw than a knife designed to do ten different things. That is not to say that a knife with a Gut Hook is always out of place or unwarranted however.

 

There are some kits out there that have a Caper, Skinner, Field Dressing Blade in them along with a saw. Depending upon the game and the hunting conditions these might be appropriate or partly appropriate. There is no law that says one can’t take parts of kits and mix and match to get the optimal use of their equipment. I myself will likely have the largest knife in camp, but that is only because I have been blessed with a custom Damascus Fixed Blade as a gift. In my pocket will be my trusty and rusty carbon steel Trapper. 

 

One is faced with a multitude of knife material to select from. Stainless this, carbon that, and all sorts of hardness and rust proof. In my own opinion I favor a blade that can rust but doesn’t have rust on it. I find carbon, hammer forged, and Damascus to hold a good edge and be the most beneficial. Damascus and Hammer Forged tend to be the best looking I think. To me a knife says a lot about a person and old Hammer Forged or Damascus is the classiest.

 

 

Knives can have many purposes and uses, from defense to art. I like to combine art with function, hence my penchant for Hammer Forged and Damascus, which I have only recently been able to afford. If I was looking for a simple knife for hunting I would first decide if I wanted a Fixed Blade or a Folder. I favor Fixed Blades because they cannot fold on you at inopportune times but a folding pocket knife tends to always be in my pocket for daily chores that a man is often tasked with. That tends to age me but it also is part of the culture I was raised in.

 

Gut Hooks are “handy” but not necessary. There is a difference and I do find that some things that while not being necessary do make things easier. It’s like an electric coffee pot. They are not necessary, but they do make having a morning cup of coffee easier. Sharp is more important than size and I would much rather see a person carry a small, but sharp, blade and maybe a pocket size sharpening stone to keep that edge on a blade. This is coming from a guy that will likely be carrying the largest knife in deer camp this year. Of course thicker and tougher game does demand a tougher knife but a mid-size knife similar to the folding Buck knives that are locking blades carried in a sheath on the belt that were popular with truckers in my youth are big enough to handle any game animal in the lower 48 in my opinion. We don't actually hunt with the knife so I don't know why they call them hunting knives.

 

hunter25's picture
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I remember some of my first

I remember some of my first knives as well and fortunately still have all my fingers as lockbacks were not that common of a feature back then. Like you I never go anywhere without a knife of some sort and have nearly panicked if I somehow misplaced it a couple of times. For a pocket folder I have been using some Kershaw speedsafe knives for awhile and they have worked very well.

I have gone through an evolution in hunitng knives and have still not quite reached the end of what I want. Currently I have been using a buck drop point fixed blade but I want something more unique and of greater quality. I have no desire for a folder for hunting or anything with a gut hook as I just don't like the way they look and if you know what yourdoing they just get in the way anyhow.

I am planning to purchase acustom knife soon and really look forward to stepping up to the quality and uniqueness of a one off piece.

Great article and I look forward to the next one.

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Thank You

Thank you.

I try to organize my thoughts and then put them out there for other folks to see if anything I might say may be of use to them. As you can tell, I'm gearing this more towards the neophyte since those shoes fit me so well.

 

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knives

Great post!  Sad fact that within our major cities and towns people have become a brainwashed society of wheiners where most people fear knives and don't value their use as everyday tools, rather than respecting such a useful tool.

Got my first knife about age 9, it was a knock-off copy of a Buck 112 Ranger, don't even think mine had a brand name on it.  Been aqcuiring cutlery ever since, in fact as an early teen I was a knife fanatic. Some may call it a misspent youth, but I learned a lot about honing stones, abrasives, edge bevels and steel, and spent a lot of time in my teen years practicing and fine tuning my skills at sharpening.  I went through a few knives, shears, scissors, loppers, axes, and law mower blades, but the skills I acquired remain with me to this day.

At some point I bought a Buck 110 and that knife remains my go to knife to this day for field dressing.  I own and have used others, all with blades bewteen 3 and 4 inches, but I keep coming back to my old 110 Folding Hunter.  I just bought a new Buck 113 Ranger Skinner, it a new fixed blade knife from Buck.  Has a 3" drop-point blade (full tang) on it and a wood scale handle with a brass bolster as a low profile crossguard, basically the same traditional handle materials used in the Buck 110 and Buck 112.  Will be using it this season.

As far as field-dressing cutlery goes, in the field I simply carry the following:

For Deer/Pronghorn - Folding lock-back knife and small compact bone saw.

For Elk - primary knife, folding pack saw, 6" bladed fillet knife, and a spare folding knife.

I also never go into the field without a good small compact sharpener, something to quickly touch up your edge with if needed. A small butchers steel often works well too.

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Western Hunter

On the subject of cities and towns, and weenies in general, when I was in Australia I found thier knife laws to be very subjective.

Every Farmer I met carried a knife, folding, in a sheath on his belt. I even have one of thier belt sheaths but need to find the right knife to put in it. As it was explained to me in a Sydney Gun Shop, if someone was offended by your knife you could be prosecuted for having it.

That explained why all the Farmers I met took thier sheaths off thier belt before driving in to town. The style of sheath most commonly seen, by me, was a horizontal carry with a flap closed by a snap button. It was quick to hand but I could see where one might have a tendency to lose a lot of knives if carried this way in brush country. At least with the vertical carry gravity forces the knife down in the sheath thereby helping you to retain the knife if the flap becomes unsnapped.

Maybe they favored the horizontal carry because it was less obtrusive if they "forgot" to take the knife off the belt when running in to town to pick up supplies? I don't know. I do know belts and sheaths tended to match in color.

 

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knives in towns

Very interesting BikerRN.  Crocodile Dundee didn't seem to let those restriction get in his way Dancing I guess that's why I still love the USA.  The USA may not be perfect, but we're sure better off than most people living in various countries around the world, and we sure are the best thing going.  Seems like all those Commonwealth countries are pretty restrictive, maybe Canada not so much.  I think you have a real problem when regular police officers in England can't even carry a sidearm to protect themselves in the line of duty.  And only special units within the police are allowed to be armed in Britain, if I understand correctly. 

I think we're staging ground in this country that makes it too easy for Americans to over-react to everything, every little possible threat of precieved danger. That's the reason switch-blades were Federally outlawed for civilians in the late 1950's.  All due to a small misinformed article in Better Homes & Gardens magazine that stirred "moral panic".  I guess every inferno gets its start from a small spark, eh?  Do you know what "Moral Panic" is?   

I can relate to all of this because I'm "that" guy who usually has a folding knife or multi-tool either on him, or in my truck, etc.  We (my wife and I) actually have some people within our circle of friends who have criticized me and question why I always have a knife on me.  I usually don't say a word to any of it.  Of course their question is always answered when we are all out and about somewhere and the sudden need for knife arises. I just don't get why knives are so feared and create such shock today.

I absolutely refuse to be brainwashed by the mainstream media into believing that we live in more dangerous times today.  And I firmly believe that people today are no better or no worse than they were 50 or 60 years ago during the so-called golden age of America, even going back hundreds or thousands of years.  Those inclined to abuse and misuse things and commit violence have always existed within every society. The big difference is what the media bombards us with 24/7 nowadays.

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Educate

It seems to me that when someone is critical or wondering why you would carry a knife that a perfect teaching moment has developed.

Knives are tools and like any tool can be used appropriately or inappropriately. It is up to the user to select the right tool for the job. Knives can be used to do many things in a pinch like cut a seatbelt on a trapped passenger in an auto collision, remove clothing from an unconcious victim to provide medical care, and cut your steak in a restaurant.

 

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knives

Oh believe me, that prefect teaching moment has arisen anytime someone is in need of a cutting tool.  I'd rather let practical use and real situations be the teaching moment rather than trying to argue a point to someone who is convinced otherwise. 

Also I'd like to add to your comment BikerRN in the original post about saying a knife like the Buck 110 being able to handle game animals in the lower 48........let me say that a knife like that is well designed for and plenty capable of field-dressing any game animal the whole world over.  But having hunted and taken pronghorn, white-tails, mulies, and elk I'm of the school of thought the same 3" to 4" bladed knife used to gut and skin a deer or antelope is perfectly well suited to do the same on larger game like bull elk, etc, and I don't imagine that African game or the great bears of the north would be much different in field dressing.

One of the knives I have used for a long time in the field for waterfowl and upland birds is a basic 4" bladed Rapala (JMartiini) fillet knife.  I've found it the perfect knife for gutting/cleaning birds and breasting out the meat, and another benefit is that knife also weighs next to nothing.  I began bringing that same knife along on biggame hunts as a boning knife to bone out meat and it works better at that task on biggame than the larger 6" bladed fillet knife I was using before.  Granted, for actual field-dressing I use a knife better suited for the task.

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