Hunting season is always around the corner, depending on the game that interests you, and no hunter is complete without a hunting knife. Any seasoned hunter knows the difference a good hunting knife can make in the field. A lot of money is invested in a good-quality hunting knife, and that investment, like any other hunting gear, should be cared for properly so it can last season after season.
The most important thing to remember is that a knife is a tool and should be used only for its intended use—no one should ever use a hunting knife as a hatchet, hammer, screwdriver, throwing knife (unless it is a throwing knife), ice pick, etc. These actions will most likely void the warranty and damage the blade permanently.
To help ensure your knife is going to work efficiently, make sure it’s always kept sharp. A sharp knife is a safe knife—it requires less force, allowing the user to maintain more control. If you’re not sure how to sharpen a knife, have an experienced hunter or knife expert show you how.
How to Clean a Hunting Knife
A hunting knife should be cleaned every time it’s used, even if all you did was handle it with your hands. Fingerprints leave behind residual acid that will begin to rust even the best metal. The best way to clean a knife:
- Wash it by hand with good, old-fashioned soap and water.
- Dry the hunting knife right away with cloth that’s soft enough to not scratch the blade.
- If the knife has any tough stains on it, don’t use strong chemical cleaners that could damage the metal. Instead, mix together some salt and vinegar and use a clean cork to gently rub the mixture on the knife to remove any stains. Afterwards, the hunting knife should be cleaned with soap and water and dried.
Storing a Hunting Knife
Once cleaned, a hunting knife should be put away in a location that is free of humidity where it won’t be bumped around by other objects. If the knife is going to be stored in a sheath, use one made of nylon or thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl sheeting. These materials will help keep a hunting boot knife dry and offer some protection against accidental bumps. For long-term storage of hunting knives, wrap the knife in paper and place it in a plastic zipper bag with some desiccant to keep humidity away from the tool.
Leather should never be used as a sheath for storing knives, especially if it’s tanned. The chemicals used to tan leather will cause the material to naturally pull moisture from the air, which will cause a knife to rust even if it’s well oiled. Leather sheaths, however, are good to use out in the field because they will protect the knife from the elements and you from the blade.
Keeping a Hunting Knife Oiled
Oil is a miracle substance: it keeps cars going, machines running, fried chicken greasy and hunting knives pretty. Oil’s function is to keep the blade free of rust, a knife’s worst enemy. An all-purpose or firearm oil is what’s typically used on knives. If the blade folds, don’t forget to oil the lock mechanism. When oiling a knife:
- Use just a little bit of oil to do the job. Too much oil will make a knife feel gummy, attracting dirt and other unwanted particles.
- The only part of a knife that should be oiled is its blade. Oiling the handle will make it slippery, which the opposite of how you want it to be when it matters the most.
- If the handle of a knife is made out of wood, however, it can be treated with special oils for wood, such as linseed oil. Leather treatment products or mink oil can be used to treat leather handles. Handles that are made of artificial materials or rubber do not need to be treated.
The proper cleaning and care of a hunting knife will make this essential tool indispensable and worth the investment.