A new model from Jerry Fisk: the Dog Leg Bowie

Feb 28, 2002
This National Living Treasure needs no introduction to this audience. I’ve been a great fan of the work of Jerry Fisk for some time now. I was first introduced to the world of custom knives back in the late 1980’s. By early 1990 I had a few nice knives in my possession with which I was quite happy. Then I got a call from a Boston-area knife dealer who said he had in something special that he thought I’d like. It was a bit more expensive than the knives I had previously purchased, but he was so sure of himself he offered to pick up the cost of return shipping if I was in any way disappointed. A few days later I grasped the maple-burl handle of 10” blade Arkansas Camp Knife and immediately understood that this was a whole new level. How could a knife this large be so light, so quick, so balanced? It felt like my arm had simply grown a foot longer, such was the feeling of control with this knife. And the fit and finish were beyond compare. This knife was a step up all right. Waaaay up.

Fast forward to January 2003 – Santa came late, but did he ever make up for it! This is a new model by Jerry Fisk called the Dog Leg bowie, so named for its slightly crooked-looking profile. I’m quite sure that no dog ever had a leg that looked quite this good.


The knife, the first of this new model, sports a 7 ½” blade of double-tempered 1084 carbon steel. Edge is convex-ground and super-sharp. The handle is made from Thuya burl which, regrettably, Jerry won’t be using on his knives anymore (gums up the belts pretty badly and gives him a rash to boot). Fittings are stainless steel.


Given that Jerry produced a range of very excellent and successful bowies, camp knives and hunters over the years, I asked what he had in mind in designing this new model:

“What I was looking for in this knife was a medium sized backpacking/field knife. A knife with enough belly to it so that it would field dress a large animal, and still be good for preparing the meat to cook. The knife had to have a clip on it so that the point would work better. The guard was designed so it could be "choked up on" and still be comfortable. The knife had to have enough weight and had to be balanced enough to chop with to build a small shelter or cutting some firewood into smaller pieces. A bigger blade would have chopped better but would have put on more weight to carry. The reason for the sweep up is for slicing a bit better, and the belly for skinning. A curved edge always cuts better than a straight edge, hence most saw blades. I would not hesitate to carry this one knife into the field on an extended trip to do all I needed to do with just one knife.”


Designing and building a tool that will excel at accomplishing multiple tasks seems to me a far more difficult undertaking than producing one which is single-task specific. In the field of human endeavor, this basic premise underscores the reason why the gold medalist in the Decathalon is generally considered the ultimate Olympic athlete. The thoughtfulness of the design is immediately apparent when you pick up this knife. That same great balance is there – you feel like you could dip the point in ink and write your name on the wall with perfect penmanship. The knife looks and feels eager to take on any task. I’d be ready to jump up and proclaim this the perfect field knife, but Jerry takes a more modest and pragmatic view:

“I will also say there is no perfect design of knife. You would still be better off to carry several blade designs in the field and it would be more fun to do so, but there are times when weight to carry is important so I trimmed the design down to what boils down to half bowie and half camp knife in a medium sized package.”

So there you are – a terrific new design by a man that that both defines and personifies the term Master Smith. My thanks to Jerry both for this beautiful creation and for taking the time to answer my numerous questions so promptly and thoroughly.


One further if slightly off-topic point. I had asked Jerry to send up a copy of his Knife Care video, which proved both informative an fun-to-watch. (Hi-light: watching Jerry casually pull out this fit-for-a-king damascus sword and sharpen it on a very tiny-looking stone. Scary moment: seeing Jerry “hand strop” this freshly-sharpened sword on his open palm – while looking at the camera, no less). Anyway, it occurred to me that such a video could be a tremendous marketing tool for a lot of knifemakers. There’s something about seeing a blade in-hand and in motion that communicates aspects that the best still photographs could not hope to capture. Plus it’s a great way for a maker to introduce himself to potential clients in a personal and informative way. Not everyone gets to go to knife shows and meet the makers in person. This could be the next best thing: sit down and talk to the viewer about yourself and your knives, and show them several examples of you work. Tell them about why you designed certain models a certain way, and why you employed certain construction techniques. It seems to me that neither high cost nor high production values would be necessary to put together a great little marketing tool. Just a thought.

[All photos by Murray White]

Merry Christmas, indeed!! What a nice knife, Jerry is such a great maker and a nice person to boot.

That is a really great looking knife and you did a fine job of highlighting the finer points of its design. It has a very useful looking blade design. It is one that tends to grow on you as when I first saw it I was not that thrilled with how it looked; after looking at it a few more times I am starting to like it more and more.

I really appreciate getting the chance to look at knives like this. I have my name down for a knife from Jerry and he says that when my name come to the top I will get to choose which design I want. The more of his knives I get to see the more educated a decision I will be able to make.
Awesome knife and write up.

Also a great illustration of how to post a write up with pictures for the Custom forum :D.
Roger, WHAT A Knife! I like it!:)

One thing though; Could you make it a point not to post your knives very often... or at least the write ups? I'll start being stoned!:eek:

Darby, you got nothin' to worry about. :D.