Knives have to be one of the most purchased items for the outdoors. From the pocket knife like our Grandpa carried to something that could have taken on Xerxes at Thermopylae I have seen just about everything used or at least bought and carried as a hunting knife. Most I have to say were far from ideal for doing the job the carrier intended and I know this because I did the same thing myself when I started in the outdoors.
Let me back up just a bit on that statement, my first knife was when I was in the Scouts and one of the things we bought was the official Scout knife. I carried that around for no telling how long until it was lost as so many are by youngsters out doing stuff. As I started to hunt I was reading all of the hunting magazines and Buck knives were featured in many and of course the black handled, silver bladed Buck fixed blade was the thing to have in all of the ads. So of course me and my buddy Joey bought those and several knives of similar size and shape. Yes you could skin a squirrel with one with only about an 80% chance of lopping off a digit or removing a large tract of skin but they weren’t ideal for the job. That is what I want to talk about here, right tool for the right job.
I see so many knives posted online or talked about by folks I know and the reality is just like I did once upon a time folks buy the wrong knife. Let’s be honest here the coolness of some knives drives our purchase. I have more than my share of military knives in the safe but they never see the light of day. I have regular pocket knives that sit right beside them because I found I don’t like carrying a knife in my front pocket. I have a lot of “tactical” folders that are my everyday carry but even those have differences that make them practical or not.
If you are a deer hunter there is no real need for a knife with a 9 inch blade to gut one. The truth is that blade can make it harder to do the job. If you are camping and need to split some small limbs for kindling that three blade sow belly isn’t going to help a lot. If you use your tactical folder like I did on the job you will likely find those cool serrations on the blade are a complete waste, but they do look good. They are usually in the exact sweet spot on the blade where you just need a good straight sharp edge.
Just like anything knife designers put out a lot of things that catch our eye and pull us into a purchase that isn’t always the best tool for that job. The cool factor has gotten us all.
Just as an example the knife I carry for hunting is a little custom drop point that has a blade just over 2 inches long. It has cleaned more deer and other critters than I can remember plus it fits in my pack where I can keep track of it. I don’t worry about a big knife in the field since I hunt close to home; I’m not camping, nor is the chance of meeting a grizz in our woods a factor. If I was in the real back country you can bet there would be a much larger blade in my kit along with my usual little custom job.
The simple message here is be realistic about your needs for that new knife. If it is for self defense as a daily carry test a few to be sure what fits your needs and training background. If you need a knife to gut a deer pick one that will efficiently do the job without the macho factor coming into play. My brother used a disposable box cutter and could clean a deer faster than I could get my knife out of my pack.
The sheer variety we have today makes buying knives just plain fun to be honest and the cool factor still gets me at times. Having said that, I have noticed over the years that even my “cool” purchases now favor the practical side as I found out what my real needs for a blade were. Just because a knife fills a need does not mean there isn’t an updated, spiffy version out there.
I hope everyone has a safe season. Get out there and enjoy the woods and be sure to wear your harness.