Help me decide....

Discussion in 'Busse Combat Knives' started by MadMarkie, Oct 14, 2019.

  1. MadMarkie


    Oct 8, 2013
    .... which knife to take on my upcoming desert bighorn sheep hunt!

    Yep.... persistence through 24 years of unsuccessful applications finally paid off, and I have a tag for AZ unit 12B. It's BIG country; this is looking South towards Lee's Ferry down the Paria Canyon (wilderness):

    According to the unit manager, the best rams live at least 4-5 miles into that canyon (about one third of the way from the shadow in the back, to the rim where the picture was taken), so I will probably be backpacking in. The "trail" is half in the river, half beach-like sand... so very grueling on my scouting hike, and that was with a much lighter pack. The best blade from my quiver is a tough choice... this once-in-a-lifetime hunt deserves something awesome, but I'm not packing my ASHBM LE or even a TGLB six miles in, along with all of my other camping and hunting gear! Here are the contenders, in no particular order:

    And some thoughts about each...
    Busse Elmax HACK: the lightest at 3.2oz (4.6 with BB sheath), and I have come to love that Elmax after The Boss works his heat-treating magic. It's never seen game, which is also a plus.
    SYKCO Scrap Max 420: best blade length to weight ratio for sure at 3.6oz, no field use yet (although it rocks the kitchen), but it would need a good light sheath to make the cut (yes, pun intended. No, I'm not sorry).
    Spyderco (Phil Wilson) South Fork: this one has become my go-to elk knife. It did two bulls without even a touch-up one year (2X genius heat-treat on that S90V), and weighs 5.4oz bare/7.6 with the sheath.
    Busse BAD: probably the top contender... it's never seen game, took a marvelous polished convex edge after thinning a bit, and just feels spectacular in hand! I figure the slightly harder INFI will handle de-boning and capeing well, but it's just a tad heavy at 5.3/7.2oz
    Busse MaxDuty: this one would probably be the top choice, but I used it last year for my pronghorn (also a very hard to draw tag in AZ). Love that Elmax, and it's light with a perfect profile (I did de-talon it so my index finger fits in the choil). Scale tips at 4.0/6.0 so nice and light.

    What would you other hunters bring? I do have a couple of friends that will be helping glass to locate a ram, but the backpack in will probably be solo, so every ounce counts. I will also have a folder along for general use and/or back-up... probably a PM2 or Endura (for the light weight). I'm not into the replaceble blade folders, and would prefer to do the whole job without stopping to sharpen.

    Here's my best picture from scouting so far.... looks like a decent 7-8 year old ram. He was kind enough to pose at 150 yards while I fiddled with my phone and spotting scope =D There was another bigger ram near the same spring, but he wasn't as keen about the photo opportunities.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
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  2. SpyderPhreak

    SpyderPhreak Rocketman for hire Platinum Member

    Apr 13, 2004
    That's an awesome draw, congrats!!! :cool: :thumbsup:

    If it were me heading in there, I wouldn't go in under-knifed. The BAD would be my first choice, followed by the SYKCO 460. I would actually take them both.

    When bow hunting Elk here in CO, I carry a BAD and a either a Game Warden or the SYKCO 460 in my pack, and a BT6 (Bowie Team 6) on my belt. For other reasons, I carry a compact 8-shot 1911 on my belt as well. I frequently hike in 2-3 miles for a day trip, and 5-6 miles back if staying and camping for a few days to a week.

    I understand ounces count, but in the long run, ~5 extra ounces for the sheathed SYKCO can be saved on other gear IMO. The knife is pretty important kit on a once-in-a-lifetime hunt like this, and I personally wouldn't go in with only one.

    PS - Andy The Aussie will be along shortly to tell you to get an Anorexic B4, and it is really good advice. If pressed to really only take one knife, with an eye toward weight, this would be a top contender.

    ETA - The BAD, being harder, will hold an edge the longest of your knives pictured. If not taking 2 knives, I would suggest at least take something to sharpen with.

    ETA2 - Is that a Hunting Gear Outfitters (Caribou Gear) game bag? Looks like it from here. Good call if so! :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  3. Stump Buster

    Stump Buster Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 15, 2007
    Congrat's on the draw, that's a once in a lifetime lotto win!

    As for the knives... it doesn't look like you can make a bad choice, that said, the spyderco has already brought you luck on at least two previous sucessful hunts. It also looks to have the most comfortable/versatile handle ergos, but like I said, the knives are the least of your worries and just icing on the cake that you have that many choices.

    GOOD LUCK and be sure to post pics when you get back.:cool:
  4. Ironkid883

    Ironkid883 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 2018
    Hope you get your tag bro .
    The bad is the bottom knife I pick that one .
    Awesome looking wilderness
  5. Private Klink

    Private Klink Gold Member Gold Member

    May 30, 2017
    Outstanding photos!:thumbsup::thumbsup: Best of luck on your hunt.
  6. MacLaren1

    MacLaren1 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 15, 2014
    Well, that S90V sharpness will last a loooong time as you well know.
    Imo, take 2 = the Spydie and BAD
    duramax likes this.
  7. duramax

    duramax KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 29, 2012
    My .02 would be for the BAD and SYKCO :thumbsup:
  8. MadMarkie


    Oct 8, 2013
    Thanks for the thoughts everyone!

    I'm really leaning towards the BAD as my primary, which will be the most spectacular break-in of any knife I've ever had, and will really make this one special! That 62RC INFI should be amazing, and what a perfect chance to find out. If it's anywhere near as good as Sal/Phil S90V, it might end up being my go-to for deer sized game. Or maybe I will alternate hunts or something... the modified MaxDuty was fantastic last year. The South Fork will always be my elk knife... it's like it was made for it... oh yeah, it was!

    For back-up, I'm now torn between a Spyderco Endura in ZDP189 (3.4oz), the previously pictured HACK Elmax Game Warden (4.6oz w/sheath), ScrapMax 420 (3.6oz + unknown sheath, any suggestions?), and my small collection of Spyderco Mule Teams in various super steels.... Darn 1st world choices!!!

    Pocket/general use duty is also a total toss-up... S90V/CF Spydie PM2 (3.2oz) -vs- S90V/CF Benchie 940 (2.4oz!) -vs- that ZDP Endura if I pick a different back-up game knife.... or a random blind grab, as all would be great!

    An orange Spyderco Delica also lives in my E-kit, so with four blades along I don't feel too underknifed ;).... but yeah, I really wish my TGLB or even an INFImandu wouldn't take my pack weight over "reasonable." Pack weight is a tough balance to achieve... but years of pack hunts for Coues whitetail has thinned my list down to the absolute necessities, plus a few "comfort" items that are worth the weight to me (my Swaro BTX spotter and CF tripod for example, and that flask of single malt whisky:D).

    SpyderPhreak: that game bag is a Kuiu which works great... but thanks for pointing me towards the Caribou bags... I needed more, so a few are currently inbound! :thumbsup: I also hear ya on the side arm.... my HK VP9SK always comes along on scouting trips (no rifle) or trips in close proximity to the Southern border, but I just can't justify the weight on this trip.

    I will try to capture as many pics as possible (this really is a once-in-a-lifetime hunt), and share the best here... cheers until then!
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  9. Private Klink

    Private Klink Gold Member Gold Member

    May 30, 2017
    Looking forward to the pics!;):thumbsup:
    ironwagon likes this.
  10. d762nato

    d762nato Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 16, 2009
    I did some trout fishing years ago around Lee's ferry beautiful country. Good luck on your hunt and you won't need a very big knife for hunting.
  11. Kenneth F Huls

    Kenneth F Huls Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 11, 2012
    Another backcountry AZ desert rat here, MadMarkie! Great draw - I am rather jealous! I love the Paria, and have hiked it and surrounding environs and canyons a lot over the years. So I know the slog you are in for. But I am still jealous nevertheless!

    I have not read everyone's comments yet, but I would go with the MaxDuty for sure. Perfect blade for the game, and tried and true for you. No-brainer in my book! And I love what you did to her (one mad home modder to another).

    For a companion on similar hikes and hunts I take a mid-size-all-arounder if I cannot stomach the weight of a "full size" wilderness knife (by which for me I mean a Skinny ASH, or now my SFNO LE). I typically take an ASH (again, my new SFNO will likely start making appearances here) even on 50-75 mile higher altitude backpacks. I just am not comfortable in the backcountry without what I consider a "real" knife - just in case. But I am paranoid like that. So the mentioned "mid-size-all-arounder" for me as the alternative is or would be one of my various Badgers. Can't go wrong there, but I don't know your full stable.

    Happy and fortunate hunting! Stay safe and have fun!

    ironwagon likes this.
  12. MadMarkie


    Oct 8, 2013
    Hi Ken! What part of AZ are you in? Lots of fantastic back country around here.... wish I had three more lifetimes to experience more of it!

    I hear ya on the "real knife" and might just have to weigh a HOG Badger, INFImandu, and my yet-to-be-broken-in Alpha Dog 6.... just to know. I also have a Basic 8 LE that really floats for as big as it is.... so hmmmmmmm. No skinny ASH in my quiver, but the ASH LE is pristine, which seems a shame! The reality is this tho... I should only be 10-12 miles away from the truck, in an area with no ground fires allowed (and precious little burnable stuff anyhow), so anything bigger than a pocket knife will go unused for general duty. I really HATE unpacking stuff that didn't get used.... and make notes of it for the next trip. Heavy is OK if it's totally useful... like my binocular, spotting scope, rifle... and even then, I'm always trying to shave some weight!

    Thanks for the comments everyone... here are a couple more pics from my last scouting trip to enjoy!
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  13. Jerry Busse

    Jerry Busse Moderator Moderator

    Aug 20, 1999
    Amazing pics!!!

    You are set for an adventure of a lifetime that you will never forget.

    While you are out and about in that rugged wilderness and far from civilization, know this my friend, I will personally make it my goal to drink enough for both of us!

    Take a flask and lots of INFI!!!

    Best of luck with the hunt!

    Let's Drink!


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  14. clampdaddy

    clampdaddy Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 31, 2013
    I'd go with the Scrapmax.
  15. SpyderPhreak

    SpyderPhreak Rocketman for hire Platinum Member

    Apr 13, 2004
    First world problems indeed! :)

    Given your options and requirements, here's what I think I would end up taking: BAD, ScrapMax 460, ZDP Endura, and BM 940. That should work well. 2 fixed, 2 folding, one stainless and one "carbon" steel in each. All relatively tough and with decent edge-holding. Swap out the Delica with a Ladybug or Manbug if you have one. Glad to hear you pack an emergency kit, I know too many hunters that skip that and it could cost them dearly! :eek:

    I was going to also add that I generally don't carry a folder when hunting, but then I remembered that I do have a Spyderco Farid K2 (CPM 10V) in my pack as well, lol. ;)

    That Kuiu bag looks a lot like a discontinued carcass bag that Caribou Gear used to make, I might have to look at buying one! :cool: :thumbsup: I've been using the Caribou bags for about 9 or 10 years now, since they came onto the market. Bought my first ones at a Sportsman's Expo in Denver back ~2009 or 2010. They're local to me, and the owner lives literally 20 minutes from my house. The new retail store they just opened is even closer, only about 10 minutes away! :D I highly recommend their stuff, I've never used any better. Their prices are good, the bags last a long time (still have my originals, used at least a dozen times), and they stand behind their products. The owner is a bigtime hunter and a really nice guy. Glad to hear you picked some up! :thumbsup:

    GOOD LUCK with your hunt, I really hope you get a nice Ram!!! Can't wait to see some pics!

    PS - you said your Scrapmax is a 420, but I believe there's only a 340, 375, and 460. Measure your blade, if it's ~4.6", yours is a 460. :)
  16. MadMarkie


    Oct 8, 2013
    New load-out based on suggestions:
    Lots of INFI, lots of whisky, and a battery pack to keep my phone topped up for more pictures!
    I received and paid an invoice for a INFImandu FFG today as well.... so will have to add that to the list of contenders (after weigh-in of course). But it's like a gift, a sign, a message from powers that bewilder my puny mind... so I better find a sheath and plan on bringing it!
    Yep... ScrapMax 460... I think my ongoing search for a 340, coupled with an inordinate inability to remember numbers (which sucks as an engineer), and inappropriate levels of beer/whisky consumption has led to unfortunate errors! You know what Jerry would say... actually he already did! I'm on it Boss...

    Oh yeah, I will hopefully have a chance to compare that Kuiu bag with the Caribou, and will report back with my findings!
  17. Will York

    Will York Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jan 21, 2000
    8D7AACC4-1FD5-4653-9658-74E364CEB14D.jpeg Seeing this, knowing you’re heading back in there with a tag? Man—that’s exciting! Congrats!!!

    Funny, that was my first thought—a modded K2 lives in my pack as well. Hard to imagine a folder better-suited to the situation.:thumbsup::cool:
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2019
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  18. MadMarkie


    Oct 8, 2013
    Thanks Will and SpyderPhreak... I guess... another hard to find Spyderco that looks perfect for game processing! CPM 10V is one steel I haven't played with either.... GREAT!

    Seriously tho.... I haven't been this stoked in a long time, if ever! I watched the big ram in the spotting scope pic above chase a ewe up and down the beach for half an hour before "sealing the deal" and it was incredible! Hope to get a closer look at him in a few weeks... that pic was at 30X from about 1.5 miles away up on the canyon rim, and the closest access (without a BASE jump) is a 10 mile river/sand slog. Here's another cool pic from the same spot... the sheep were all packed into the shade close to the water due to 100+ heat. Almost looks like a sheep petroglyph in front of the ewe by the smaller boulder...
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  19. AntDog

    AntDog Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    Good luck on your hunt. You really won’t need a huge knife for what you’re planning. Just take your pick, and a stone to keep it sharp, and you’re all set.

    If it were me, I’d bring my AMS in its Azwelke kydex on my belt and save room in the pack for other sh!t.
    trevitrace likes this.
  20. Private Klink

    Private Klink Gold Member Gold Member

    May 30, 2017
    That should be one beautiful hunt!:thumbsup::thumbsup:

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