I have spent quite a bit of time during the past three weeks desperately trying to keep up with the endless energy of my setter as she ferrets out pheasants out of irrigation ditches. Every once in a while I get lucky and kill a rooster or three; then it’s time to clean them.
For more years than I want to admit to, I have used an old stockman knife for this—and a few other—chores. The clip blade is about a half-inch shorter than when it left the factory, and its profile is more like a sail spike than a clip blade. It still does a pretty good job on birds and trout, but recently I was treated to a quartet of new folding pocket knives from Knives of Alaska.
The Ranger, Rover, Model 400 and Spike are folders that do not have a blade lock. There’s a very good reason that they don’t. The only true purpose of a knife is to cut things. Using a knife to serve as an ersatz pry bar, joint separator or an awl is simply an abuse of the tool. Yet we all do it from time to time. I am something of a blade enthusiast so I have dedicated “utility” knives for those purposes, and I am never without at least one of them. But for dressing out birds and trout you want something that is maneuverable—read small—and very sharp. The Model 400 has just earned itself permanent residency in my bird hunting bag, and the Spike now calls my fishing vest home. I prefer the button on these knives to facilitate opening the blade. For those who prefer an even smaller profile, the Ranger and Rover models have a small piercing through the top of the blade.
All of these knives feature D2 steel hardened to an RhC of 59 to 61; multi-laminate scales made of orange and black Micarta that stands out so you don’t miss it and also doesn’t slip when your fingers get bloody, and they all have a limited lifetime warranty. The smaller Rover and Spike models have an MSRP of $60; the slightly larger Ranger and Model 400 are $70. Info and ordering: www.knivesofalaska.com; 800-572-0980. If you really know how to use a knife, one of these will be a pleasure to own.