Edge

The Alaskan camp knife, top, shown with an Arkansas toothpick for comparison.

Sometimes size matters. It would be tough indeed to forget that iconic scene in Crocodile Dundee where the title character played by Paul Hogan warded off a gang of teenage ne’er-do-wells with a demonstration of both the size and sharpness of his Bowie hunting knife. Comedic value aside, a big knife can be more than a conversational piece.

When I was but a rookie and had only a couple of deer hunts under my belt, my father was starting to get more serious in his hobby of knife making. These knives varied in size and design as he applied his creative talents. One he made for me was fashioned from the steel of a mill planer blade complete with brass fixtures and a bone handle. Others he made from various other grades of steel, and they usually had an antler handle. If he had time and materials, Pops would fashion a leather sheath from leather and rawhide.

One of the very coolest style of knives he ever made came to us courtesy of a friend from Alaska. We will call him Gene. When Gene resided in the state once known as “Seward’s Folly” he made his living as a hunting guide. Believe me, size didn’t matter in his case. Although he stood only a few inches over 5 feet tall, he had held his own and had some great stories to tell.

One day, upon learning that my father made knives as a hobby, Gene handed him the blank of an obtusely large, almost comically so, knife. “They call it an Alaskan Camp knife,” said Gene, grinning from ear to ear. It made an Arkansas toothpick look like child’s play. Pops took it home and made a pattern from cardboard, then set to work producing these huge knives. Upon completion of the first, others were requested, and he ended up making 10 of them total, each one slightly more unique than its predecessors.

Being as it was so large, one couldn’t carry it hanging off of their belt, so Dad fashioned sheaths with an over the shoulder sling for ease of carry. Each one he stamped with his initials and number in the series. What would something like that be good for, other than as a conversation piece? A better question might be: What couldn’t you do with such a knife? You could chop kindling, split brisket bones on your big game animals or chop your way through brush. Dispatching a rattlesnake, no problem. Why, you could even clean your fingernails or pick your teeth. The list is literally endless. When selecting a knife for your day-to-day needs, be sure to pick the right one. No, my one-of-a-kind Alaskan camp knife is not for sale. If you want one, you’ll have to get your own!

What is your daily duty knife? Write to us at shootingthebreezebme@gmail.com!

Dale Valade is a local country gent with a love for the outdoors, handloading, hunting and shooting.

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