Hunters are deeply immersed in their tools. Guns, ammo, optics, knives, even our trucks, are all tools we need. Tents, cots, camp stoves and maybe a little bourbon for campfire watching. Blinds, treestands, trail cameras, camo, decoys, boats, canoes, boots, waders—like the road, the stuff we need goes on forever. Yet, here are three tools that you probably haven’t even thought about. Trust me, you need them. You just don’t know it yet.
WOOX Forte Axe
No hunter can call himself well equipped unless he owns a good axe. I keep an axe in my truck all the time. I have used it to clear trees that fell on the road to our camp, to cut shooting lanes for a deer stand, cut brush to hide a duck blind and to clear a path to get a bear out of the woods. I’ve also split wood and made kindling for several campfires, pounded in tent pegs, driven nails and split the rib cage on a whitetail. I even used an axe to cut the tail off a squirrel to use for tying flies. Frankly, I don’t know how any hunter gets by without one.
I have owned several over the years, everything from hatchets to a double-bit felling axe, but the one I have in my truck right now is the WOOX Forte. This axe is said to be a hybrid of American and Italian design, and it’s a great multi-use axe. The unique head design cuts well and it splits wood even better. I ordered mine with the 22-inch handle, which makes it handy to use for everything short of felling a redwood. It comes with a leather sheath to protect the edge. This is a high-quality axe that will be passed down for generations. MSRP: $190-$220; wooxstore.com.
DMOS Delta Shovel
A shovel is like an axe, because it’s a tool you never think about until you need one. It’s all but a necessity for getting a stuck truck back on track. It can also be used to dig a hole for a camp latrine or to fill it in at the end of the hunt. I have trenched around my tent, dug out the rock under my sleeping pad, dug a fire pit and used the shovel to poke up the fire. I have even used a shovel for self-defense against raccoons raiding my coolers. I don’t like to leave the pavement without one. The trouble is, shovels take up room.
I have a couple of those little folding shovels. One is a GI surplus left over from foxhole duty in some long-ago war and the other is a modern reproduction. Both have short handles that were not made for old guys with bad backs. The blade is really too small to use for anything more than planting flowers in the garden. I have cursed at the absurdity of trying to dig out a pickup truck from a snowbank with these toy shovels. But they fold up and fit in my toolbox, so they are what are in there.
I was poking around on the Internet and stumbled over the DMOS Delta Shovel. I’ll be honest; the entry price of $250 was a little bit of a shocker. Then I thought back to the last time I was crawling around in the snow and mud under my truck with my little folding shovel and how I offered to trade my house that day for a full-grown shovel. (In thinking it over later, a tow truck would have been a better deal.)
The biggest market for this shovel is for off-road enthusiasts, so it’s a good bet it’s dug out a truck or two. With the telescoping handle, the Delta opens up to a full-size shovel. It’s 51 inches long, which is plenty long enough for any road crew worker to lean on. They say it has been tested to handle 1,000 pounds of leveraging force, which is more than I can muster these days. The full-size blade can be used in the hoe position or the shovel position, yet it folds up so it’s not much larger than the little GI shovel. Mine has the Cerakote option which, in addition to being pretty, will protect the metal from rust and corrosion. MSRP: $249; dmoscollective.com.
I can remember seeing ads for the Woodman’s Pal in outdoor magazines back when I was a kid. It was introduced in 1941 and was issued to the troops from World War II through Desert Storm. That alone made me want one.
Recently, I was clearing shooting lanes for a deer stand using a machete from a well-known knife company. It was total junk. The blade edge bent with each strike and was as dull as Joe Biden well before I got the first sapling out of the way. That’s when I knew I needed a better tool.
The Woodman’s Pal is made of quality steel that will cut through the trees rather than bending to their shape. They won a world war with this thing, so a maple branch is nothing.
The 10½-inch blade has a cutting edge ground on the leading side that also works great as a draw shave. On the back side is a chisel ground sickle hook designed to cut vines and brush. The front edge of the tool can be used for digging.
It comes with a very nice leather case. The handle scales are wood, but also offered is a retro version of the original, using stacked leather washers for a handle. I really like that one. This is not an inexpensive tool, costing about the same as a high-quality knife. You get what you pay for and beware of cheap imitators. One I see online a lot is from the same company that made my machete.
I used the Woodman’s Pal this past winter when setting up a pest control trap line here at Camp Towsley. I used the blade and the hook to clear brush and to cut material for hiding the traps. I even used the nose to dig a bed in the frozen ground for the traps. I had forgotten how much fun trapping can be and I wish I’d had this when I was trapping full time back in the ’70s. MSRP: $185-$225; woodmanspal.com.
I totaled my old truck coming home from a bird hunt last fall. The new one has a lot less storage space, but you can bet these three made the cut for must-have tools.