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George Little: A good knife is a friend for life

December 07, 2012 at 06:42 AM

The State Journal-Register

Hunters used knives to obtain meat and get it ready for roasting about a millennium before anyone ever pulled a trigger. The earliest ones were sharpened bone, a jagged rock, or napped flint.

Like all those hunters before us, most of us go afield or afloat carrying a knife. It very well could be our most useful outdoor tool. While it’s not manufacturer recommended, and may require some blade correction with a whetstone, in a pinch, a good knife will open a can of spaghetti, pry the lid off a locked tackle box, peel potatoes, and clean the fish for shore lunch … all in the same morning.

Today, there are hundreds of hunting knife choices. If you’re looking for a new one, start with what you’re willing to spend. There are lots of good choices in the $50 to $100 dollar range. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. It may not be altogether practical to fall in love with a knife that costs more than your first car.

Once you’ve settled on price, take a look at fixed blade and folding knives. Folding knives are more compact. Fixed blade knives are generally a little stronger because they have no locking mechanism, but they are not as easy to carry.

Once you determine your favorite, take a look at drop point and clip point knives. Those who have used both say a drop point knife is more versatile and better balanced. Those who favor the clip point say it’s easier to control, and they like the traditional look and feel.

It’s best to go exploring at a retailer that offers several choices. Hold and heft different ones. See what style and balance best fits your hand. Weigh that against your most common needs. For example, you might really like one that’s best suited for boning an elk, when your most pressing need is cleaning pheasants.

If one of the legendary Randall Knives catches your eye, put it on your Christmas list for 2017 and place the order now. Fifty-four months is the current waiting time for delivery, if you reserve your Randall Knife today. After waiting that long, and paying that much, you’re probably going to want to add a rider to your homeowner’s policy and find a suitable display case. You won’t feel good about using that knife for a can opener or a cold chisel.

The hunting knife I thread on my belt during deer season was a gift from a good and trusted friend. It’s more of a knife than I need, and some have suggested more of a knife than is appropriate for somebody like me who isn’t tightly focused on equipment. I carry it as a reminder of lifelong friendship. Plus, it’s the one my cousin Curt prefers to use when he field dresses my deer.

It may be a long time in coming, but there are residual benefits when you teach a young person to hunt.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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