Just returned from elk hunt; are we over thinking this?

SALTY

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Hi, I'm Salty and I'm a Knife Knut.

OK, you probably knew that already because I'm here on BF.

So, I just returned from a week long Colorado elk hunt where we had guide hands tending to the things that happen before and after harvest; it certainly makes things easier for us old, banged-up folks.

When I travel, I generally do not bring my "good" knives - mainly for fear of loss. That being said, I do not want to be in the wild (or anywhere, for that matter) knifeless. In my daypack was a Cold Steel SRK in case I had to make a fire or do whatever to spend a few hours or night in the mountains. In my pocket was a RAT-1 in D2 with orange handles and I had a lower end Leatherman (Wingman) on me as well. The outfitter's hands tend to field dressing and the like so this is where the point of this post goes.

A fellow hunter got a bull and the hands went to field dressing. I myself prefer a fixed blade for this work and anything between 3 - 6" will do with 4" - ish being the sweet spot for most large game. By way of reference, the Becker Tweener Series (BK 15, 16, 17 or 18), Cold Steel Pendleton, Master Hunter and/or Drop Forged Hunter are my most used unless I feel like having a "fancy knife" with me. When I was yonger I did countless deer with a Buck 110. I've also used an older Marbles knife in 52100 many times. Now, back to the elk and the guide hands.

I watched as two men situated the elk with it's head uphill and everything else downhill and thought they would tie off a leg or two at adjoining trees with cord as I've done - especially when by myself, but one guy held a leg while the other tended to the task at hand. Now the long awaited moment of "the knife" comes wherein the guy doing the field dressing whips out his 3.5" (+/-) Kershaw folder. I don't know what model it was but it had a skeleton SS handle and a really beat up blade, especially near to the tip with the grind being pretty far down towards the edge. The rest was as per usual, including doing what cleaning of the knife that could be first on the elk's hair, then in snow and finally a rinse from a water bottle. They did use a saw for the pelvis but everything else was normal and actually took about the same amount of time and effort as one would expect.

The next morning when he arrived at camp for breakfast, I asked to see his knife. It was very well used and not terrible sharp - especially within an inch or so of the tip. I dressed it up for him as best I could on the bottom of a ceramic coffee cup ... mind you he was more than happy with the edge beforehand.

I've field dressed, skinned, quartered and butchered many a critter with functional knives in "common" steels that cost less than $150 (much less, in fact) and have not been in want for more performance. Of course if I was in a spike or outcamp doing multiple animals I may desire "better" steels, but some basic sharpening stuff can also save the day - or week.

Every one of my not-so-high-end field knives are waaaay better than what this guide hand field dressed that elk with and he was not in a state of want for anything more than that beat up Kershaw folder.

This little episode does bring to the fore whether or not we are over thinking this notion of $500+ hunting knives in super-steels. Lest anyone think I'm being value based or hypocritical, I do where a Rolex or three that don't tell time as well as my G-Shocks and certainly cost more to acquire and maintain; so I'm in no position to judge.
 
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RoyalHolic

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Similar situation happened to me while boar hunting in Arkansas, I brought my Esee and my Large Sebenza and to my surprise when we all whipped out our knives to dress a hog we killed the guide pulled his out and it was an absolute beat up Gerber 650 Gator which didn't even lock up well. It served him well though as it was super sharp and in his pouch on his belt 24/7 ready to go.

He was not hurting for money either, he could have easily had some nice knives but he seemed happy with his semi-broken gator.

If it ain't too broke why fix it! I applaud his desire to work his knife till it falls apart even if it's 20+ years old.
 
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Most hunters I know don't carry anything like a Benchmade Altitude, or similar price point blade. I see lots of Buck 110's a few Gator fixed blades, Grohmann hunters and the like. Being a knife nut and also a hobby maker I do enjoy my higher end knives, but realistically, most hunting knives I see are with a simple stainless or carbon blade that can be sharpened easily. I remember the first hunting knife I made that I had actually sold, the buyer raved to me about the fact he could dress a moose without resharpening, he bought 4 more. There was nothing really special about those knives, simple O1 with good geometry. More a testament to his previous blades lacking than anything I did.
 

Wurger190

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Over here in the UK, there is a very popular hunting knife called the Emberleaf Cael. It's about $550 or so. I've never had one so can't comment on it, but it remains a popular purchase.
When I got into hunting, I didn't have a lot of cash for a super duper knife and started out with a Mora Companion, which was ok. I then got an EKA Swingblade, very nice though probably a bit deep in height (edge to spine distance). The 'unzipper' part of the blade was great, but I got fed up with the inevitable collection of fat, blood and hair in the blade/handle pivot area.
I've now switched to a simple solution - SOG SEAL Pup. Nice belly, not too deep in blade height, serrations easily cut through a Roe deer sternum and it's really easy to clean and maintain.
Certainly nothing nicer than a fancy knife, but I really appreciate the utility of a simple knife.
 

MolokaiRider

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I think you know more than those guides do in regards to knife performance.

If they had experience using a well heat treated hunting knife in CPM-3V and in a thin full flat grind, paired with a DMT duofold, I bet they would sing a different tune.

No doubt simple steels and cheap tools can be used and made to work though.

But the performance upgrades are definitely tangible and worth it to those in the know.

A sharp knife is paramount to having an enjoyable time cleaning game. I see many guides using knives with disposable razors.
 

colubrid

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I have never hunted or dressed a deer or any animals (not even a chicken). But I have stacks of pocket knives in the $500+ range to choose from.. Which I will cut open an envelope ...on some days when I get mail :(.

I need another pocket knife.. Maybe a 4" blade that is an auto. LOL!
 

PheonixKingZ

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I have never hunted or dressed a deer or any animals (not even a chicken). But I have stacks of pocket knives in the $500+ range to choose from.. Which I will cut open an envelope ...on some days when I get mail :(.

I need another pocket knife.. Maybe a 4" blade that is an auto. LOL!
Ah man, you really should hunt, it’s a great experience.

I went dear hunting one year, didn’t get anything. The next year I went turkey hunting and I got a really nice one.

Turkey hunting seems more fun than deer hunting, because you are on the ground, behind a fallen tree or in a ditch, calling and waiting.
 
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Yes we are over thinking it, and because we are knife nuts, and obsessed with the knife as a cult worship item, the knife magazines know how to shill for the knife industry. They feed us a constant up dating of XYZ steel of the month that maybe fewer than 5% of knife nuts will ever notice a difference, just to sell more knives to people who already have more than they can use in this lifetime.

Knife nuts, are just like car nuts, gun nuts, and cigar nuts in that they mistakenly believe that the more money they spend in their object of obsession, the better object they are getting. Never mind that they will never see circumstances where that object is pushed to the limit, they just absolutely have to have the latest and greatest thing.

It all gets ridiculous after a point. Theres more real work being done in third world countries with a rusty machete than all the CR knives being wielded on weekends by office cubicle workers who spend too much time on knife web sites in search of the 'better' blade.

That ranch hand with his well worn old Kershaw most likely never read a knife magazine and didn't know how much he was under equipped. He just did what he needed to do with that beat up old knife.

Jeff Randall once said in an interview that 99% of the knife market was B.S. I believe him.
 

Eli Chaps

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I have never hunted or dressed a deer or any animals (not even a chicken). But I have stacks of pocket knives in the $500+ range to choose from.. Which I will cut open an envelope ...on some days when I get mail :(.

I need another pocket knife.. Maybe a 4" blade that is an auto. LOL!

Will those be in any super steels?

In all my years of outdoor activities (and the military and law enforcement for that matter) I encountered very, very few folks with any penchant for knives. Folks will easily put a grand or more into a rifle and scope only to hack through an animal with a mostly dull knife, regardless of make.

I agree with MolokaiRider MolokaiRider to a point. I've shown a lot of folks the pleasure of a sharp knife and they are nearly always impressed but it has been my experience that few them go beyond that and just go back to using whatever mostly dull tool they have.

I've never understood it.
 

ohen cepel

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My Father, and many of his buddies, routinely did deer with a sod buster or which ever folding knife they had on them at the time. I can't speak to elk but a white tail doesn't take a big knife.

Yes, we argue about things here much like car guys who debate about that last 2 horse power. Do those matter going to the grocery store or if a fool is driving said 2hp more car? I think not.

Its all good fun but a LOT was done in this world without "super" steels.
 

DMG

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I have field dressed deer with a Swiss Army knife. I much prefer to do it with a better knife. There are a lot of people out there that have never used a good knife so they don’t know what they are missing.
 

T.L.E. Sharp

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IMG-20200516-215317-582.jpg


But his beat up old Kershaw would look ridiculous on instagram. :cool:
 

Billy The Hungry

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Great post!

Are we over thinking this? Probably not. I say that because I'm sure the majority of us knife nuts don't carry our spendy folders for super harsh tasks. I know some do, sure.

But I bet the majority of us buy the knives we buy simply because we love them, and are blessed and fortunate enough to be able to do so!
 
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It's only overthinking if it has a negative effect on your life. Some people just aren't into some things. The guys I hunt with go on and on about their trucks and camo but I've been fine with my old van and jeans/flannel for years now. Their stuff doesn't interest me, and mostly my knives don't really interest them.

I've been "that guy" in my previous career in a professional kitchen too. Lots of people I worked with had thousands of dollars in their knife kit. Custom vegetable knives that cost a thousand bucks and were used a few times a month, hundred dollar spatulas, custom fish tweezers and so on. I mostly used the house utensils and my $100 Al Mar re-branded chef knife. Never bothered me, you know because of the whole "several hundred dollar pocket knife and flashlight" thing :D
 

BMCGear

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The old Schrade and Case knives always cleaned anything that we wanted. I remember when joining BF's I really thought I had something when I was toting a Kershaw Blur or Case Sodbuster. I was somewhat blown away by the world that I had discovered that had evolved outside of the Wal-Mart and Hardware Store I had bought knives from.

I've now owned everything from a $100 Grip to a $575 CRK. If we're being honest the Kershaw would still serve me fine. I bought my dad a 556 around 5 years ago. He has carried it daily and is still happy with it. I on the other hand keep buying, selling, and trading knives.

It's fun and looking for the next best is really just a justification to buy more crap.
 

stabman

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People spend cash on the things they like more than other things.
I like knives, so have spent more money on them than, say, clothing, computers, cellphones, etc.
I would still have my old flip-phone except that it stopped working. Phone company sent me a newer, supposedly upgraded version of what I have now; it's still in the box, because it's a half inch longer and that kind of bugs me. :D Won't use it ever unless this one breaks.

But you have people who line up for hours to buy the newest, most brag-worthy phone that came out that year. And for them, it's probably worth it more than a knife they wouldn't use.

Priorities, right?

Not surprising though that on a knife forum there would be a concentration of folks who like knives, and don't mind spending the cash to get a nice one. ;)
 

000Robert

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Mar 28, 2020
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Yes we are over thinking it, and because we are knife nuts, and obsessed with the knife as a cult worship item, the knife magazines know how to shill for the knife industry. They feed us a constant up dating of XYZ steel of the month that maybe fewer than 5% of knife nuts will ever notice a difference, just to sell more knives to people who already have more than they can use in this lifetime.

Knife nuts, are just like car nuts, gun nuts, and cigar nuts in that they mistakenly believe that the more money they spend in their object of obsession, the better object they are getting. Never mind that they will never see circumstances where that object is pushed to the limit, they just absolutely have to have the latest and greatest thing.

It all gets ridiculous after a point. Theres more real work being done in third world countries with a rusty machete than all the CR knives being wielded on weekends by office cubicle workers who spend too much time on knife web sites in search of the 'better' blade.

That ranch hand with his well worn old Kershaw most likely never read a knife magazine and didn't know how much he was under equipped. He just did what he needed to do with that beat up old knife.

Jeff Randall once said in an interview that 99% of the knife market was B.S. I believe him.

Never is a long time. Maybe I won't ever find myself in a situation to where my knife has to be pushed to the limit. But it sure feels good knowing that it will handle the job. Don't worry, if the day ever comes I'll help out people like you also whose knives did not handle the job.
 
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