Story by Joshua Swanagon, Photos by Jim Cooper (SharpByCoop Photography)
It was a way of life once.
My wife and I like to travel by vehicle, a lot – typically making the trek to my home state of Colorado to visit family. One thing that I can never help myself from pondering (especially as we cross some of the more inhospitable terrains our country has to offer) is that early settlers forged this country in nothing but covered wagons and miles upon miles of wilderness.
Like most people, when we travel cross country like this, we make sure to pack the snacks; however, we don’t bother loading up on full meals, because if we get hungry along the way we can stop and get a bite at some local greasy spoon or fast food joint.
When I think of our founders making their trek across the seemingly endless miles of uncharted expanse, stopping for food meant setting up camp for a few days and hunting. Sure, they could pack some food for the trip, but they were limited on space and needed enough food to last up to months at a time. Unfortunately, when they ran out, they couldn’t just run into the local Quickie Mart, they had to stop and hunt again.
Even though we have the luxury of stopping in at our local super market to pick up some steaks to throw on the grill for the big game, it is still important that we take part in a heritage that built this country – not to mention the agricultural benefits that hunting provides. By holding on to these traditions, we honor the hard work and struggle that early settlers endured in search of a better life for themselves and future generations.
Because it is hard to process game with our bare hands, knives played a pivotal role in the forging of this country – for everything from setting up camp to turning the day’s hunt into useable meat and hides. Not much has changed on that front today.
Although all knives were custom made during the early formation of our country, I think it is safe to say that knives as exquisite as the custom hand-made knives of today – much like the knives below – would have been exclusive to the wealthier members of society. Although beautifully hand-crafted custom knives are still understandably expensive, they are far more attainable by the average knife connoisseur of today.
Just as they were back then, knives are still an important part of any hunt. So, as you take part in our national pastime, treat yourself and make sure your knife selection is one that not only makes processing your game easier, but looks good doing it.
Model: Elk HunterBlade Material: CPM-154Blade Length: 3.375 inchesOverall Length: 8 inches Bolster/Guard Material: 303 Stainless SteelHandle Material: Bighorn SheepWebsite: NoneFacebook: None
Model: Trail ThornBlade Material: 1075/15n20 DamascusBlade Length: 5.5 inchesOverall Length: 10.75 inchesBolster/Guard Material: StainlessHandle Material: Stabilized Curly KoaWebsite: KenHallKnives.comFacebook: Facebook.com/KenHallKnives
Model: Junction HunterBlade Material: 1075/15n20 Ladder Pattern DamascusBlade Length: 3.75 inchesOverall Length: 8.5 inchesBolster/Guard Material: 416 Stainless SteelHandle Material: Stabilized Curly KoaWebsite: NoakeCustomKnives.comFacebook: Facebook.com/NoakeCustomKnives
Model: Sporter BowieBlade Material: 1084/15n20 DamascusBlade Length: 5.25 inchesOverall Length: 9.75 inchesBolster/Guard Material: 416 Stainless Steel, G10 and Vintage MicartaHandle Material: Amber Dyed Sambar StagInstagram: @MattRobertsKnives
Model: OoLooBlade Material: Twist Pattern Damascus Forged to ShapeBlade Length: 7 inchesOverall Length: 7 inchesHandle Material: Walrus IvoryWebsite: SwearingenKnife.com
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Joshua Swanagon has studied survival in both urban and wilderness environments in Colorado and Michigan for most of his life, while also adding experience in harsher terrains abroad. He utilizes his experience and years of diverse martial arts and combatives training and real world application as a self-defense/combatives instructor, published freelance writer and Field Editor for various magazines in the fields of knives, survival, self-defense and tactical subject matters. Joshua also brings with him his years of experience as Editor of, and Subject Matter Expert for Knives Illustrated Magazine.
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