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Hunting Knives: A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing Yours
Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned pro, all hunters need quality hunting knives in their stock. Here's how to pick 'em, and why.
On my twelfth birthday, I found an unusual package among my meager pile of presents. It was oblong, wrapped in butcher paper with a thin, red ribbon tied around the middle. As soon as I picked it up, I knew what it was. A hunting knife!
I tore away the paper to find a classic, fine point Buck knife with a cocobolo hardwood handle and a brass bolster and blade guard.
I had carried Swiss Army knives like a good Boy Scout before, but being in possession of a bonafide hunting knife was a boy's dream.
Now, I never needed to learn how to buy a good hunting knife as I learned specifically what a good blade is from my Dad.
But, about 21.8 million people hunted in the last five years. Many of those people are like me, having grown up with hunting and sport fishing, yet some of those people came into the sport later in life and need someone to guide their way to quality hunting knives.
Whether you are an old hat or new, it's always good to have a guide to help find the best knife for your hunting and fishing needs.
1. Hunting Knives and Choosing Yours: What's the point?
As with any instrument or tool, you need to know what it's for before you can decide on what kind you need.
Ask yourself, what am I going to be doing out on the field? Am I going to be skinning deer? Rabbit? Cutting branches? Whittling wood for fire kindling?
Are you going to be hunting big game, or small game? Are you going fishing?
When hunting big game such as deer or elk, I carry a fixed-blade knife with a rugged synthetic handle. It's versatile. You can use its drop-point blade for skinning and its serrated edge for cutting through tree branches for kindling.
When hunting small game, I prefer a folded pocket knife with a clip-point blade. It's useful for quickly skinning rabbits, and if it has a fowl hook, you can gut small game birds on the fly.
And if you're fishing, you might want a long boning knife.
2. Hunting Knives and Choosing Yours: Size Really Does Matter
And it's not the bigger the better, either. You might be surprised to hear that extremely large knives, while very cool looking on your hip, are practically useless when it comes to hunting or fishing.
Sure, you might be able to hack away at a tree limb in lieu of a good hatchet when you have a large knife. But you really want something that will be light, agile, and easily sharpened. You will find none of these benefits in an oversized knife.
What really matters when it comes to blade design is the shape.
There are six blade types to choose from, so don't get too overwhelmed. We're here to guide you, remember?
3.Hunting Knives and Choosing Yours: Fixed or Folded
You have two basic types of knives to consider.
When looking at a fixed knife, you need to consider whether the blade is full tang? Full tang simply means that the base of the blade runs all the way through the handle. If the handle fell off, you could still use the blade.
Full tang provides support and stability in the knife, keeping the tool from snapping in half when you need it most.
If it's fixed and not full tang, you might want to consider another knife.
The fixed blade knife is also easier to clean as there are no nooks and crannies for debris to slip into.
A folding knife, as I said before, is a great pocket tool. But be picky when choosing one.
You must go for a strong lock-back folding knife with a thick blade and a grippy handle.
The strong lock on the blade will keep it from closing on you when you are working with it.
The thick blade will compensate for the lack of full tang, keeping the knife from breaking on you.
And, since folding knives are generally smaller, the rough handle will keep the knife from slipping out of your hand.
Conclusion: Once You Got One...
If you own a tool box and do any kind of small maintenance around the house, you know you need more than one tool.
Choosing just one is difficult. You may need a knife for one thing and realize it's completely useless for something else. Or you've gotten into fishing and realized that the spear point knife you have puts you in danger of puncturing your inflatable river raft. Now you need a blunt tip.
Or you've gotten into fishing and realized that the spear point knife you have puts you in danger of puncturing your inflatable river raft. Now you need a blunt tip.
Fortunately, good knives aren't too expensive. And it's not unreasonable to buy more than one.
We've equipped you with enough information to choose the tool for the task. Go out, be safe, and happy hunting!