The Hunter’s Knife

posted on December 9, 2013
lessons_ah2015_fs.jpg (18)

undefinedA knife is about as fundamental as a gun for a hunter. Aside from the normal field dressing, we who spend a lot of time in the woods are always finding a need to cut, shave or otherwise separate one thing from another. Among my many vices, I am something of a knife collector so there are probably 200 or so knives scattered around my little homestead.

I have a little confession to make—it will likely cause any reader with professional ties to the modern education system to faint. I have been carrying a pocket knife constantly since about the third or fourth grade. Today, any student found with so much as a pen knife would be immediately expelled and set to sensitivity counseling, but during that innocent time of some 50-plus years ago teachers knew most of the boys carried a pocket knife and they didn’t care. At that time no one would even consider assaulting another student with a knife. But I digress.

Over the years I have carried and used many different knives: big knives, little knives, folding knives, lock-blade knives and, yes, I’ve even used an automatic-opening knife (a.k.a. “switchblade,” an inaccurate nomenclature) to dress out deer and other game animals. Like many, I started out with a much larger knife than I really needed. In the interest of education, I’ve also tried some mini-folders on deer. I have finally settled on what for me is a reasonable compromise: I use several knives.

If I am deer or elk hunting, I’ll have two knives in my pack in addition to the Benchmade Auto Stryker that is my constant companion. My main knife for dressing and skinning is a Knives of Alaska (KOA) Summit—which is no longer made but the Alpha Wolf is nearly identical. It’s a full-tang, drop-point knife with a 4-inch blade. Made from D2 steel, the edge is friction forged, meaning the edge passes through a pair of rollers, and the friction between the rollers heats the steel and forges it into the edge profile. KOA claims the edge will Rockwell out at 59 to 61 on the Rc scale. The main part of the blade remains softer to allow some flex in it without chipping or breaking. I can dress and skin two deer or wild hog-size animals with it before it needs sharpening.

The other knife I carry—mostly out of nostalgia is an old Buck Stockman folder. Its clip blade is about a quarter inch shorter than when it left the factory nearly a half century ago. I’ve carried it since I was in high school, and then number of fish, birds and deer it has cleaned up would stagger the mind. I’ve lost it three times—once it rattled around the engine compartment of my old Dodge Power Wagon for three months before I found it. I should retire it, but I can’t. Supposedly it’s for a backup, but in reality I just can’t seem to leave it home.


JTH The First Deer Hunt Lead
JTH The First Deer Hunt Lead

The First Deer Hunt: From Mentorship to Magazine

The only hunters in his family were his grandfathers, one of whom he never met and the other too old to take to the field by the time the author came of age. So the offer by a family friend to take him hunting was too good to be true for a youngster.

Federal Ammunition Adds Train + Protect 10mm Ammo

Federal Premium recently added a new line extension to its Train + Protect product line—featuring packaging that honors any shooter’s birthright to bear arms—with a new load in 10mm Auto.

First Look: Redding Reloading Equipment Die Sets for 400 Legend

Redding Reloading Equipment has introduced a 3-Die Set for the 400 Legend.

#SundayGunday: Benelli M2 Field

Get a closer look at the Benelli M2 Field, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

Review: Trijicon Specialized Reflex Optic (SRO)

With an old bull in spitting distance and his target bull still hidden, Brad Fenson needed a combination of precision and situational awareness to keep life and limb together, much less take his trophy. For this, the Trijicon SRO2 came in clutch. Read on for his full experiences with the optic.

First Look: Kent Cartridge Fasteel+ Shotshells

Kent Cartridge has introduced Fasteel+, a hard-hitting shotshell line for waterfowlers.


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.