Experienced hunters understand what a difference a good hunting knife can make in the field. A high-quality hunting knife, like any other hunting gear, should be treated as an investment and cared for properly so it can last for years.
For starters, it’s important to keep in mind that a knife should only be used as it was intended – not as a hammer, screwdriver, hatchet, ice pick or throwing knife (unless it is a throwing knife). Using a knife for any other purpose could permanently damage the blade and cause the warranty to become void.
You should also keep your knife sharp, for safety as well as efficiency. A sharp knife requires less force, reducing the likelihood of accidental injury.
Cleaning Your Hunting Knife
Even if all you did was touch the blade with your fingers, it’s important to clean a hunting knife every time it’s used. The residual acid left behind by fingerprints can corrode even the highest-quality metal. To clean a knife:
– Wash it by hand with soap and water.
– Use a soft cloth to dry it immediately, taking care not to scratch the blade.
– Never use strong chemical cleaners to remove tough stains, as these can damage the metal. Combine salt and vinegar and gently apply with a clean cork, then wash with soap and water and dry.
Storing Your Hunting Knife
Your clean hunting knife should be stored in a humidity-free environment where it won’t be bumped around by other objects. To keep a knife dry and protect it against accidental bumps, you can store it in a sheath made of nylon or thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl sheeting. To store a knife for the long term, wrap it in paper and seal it in a plastic bag with desiccant to prevent humidity.
Never store a knife in a leather sheath, particularly tanned leather, as the chemicals within the material can cause it to draw moisture from the air and lead to rust. Instead, save your leather sheath for short-term use in the field, where it provides good protection from the elements.
Oiling Your Hunting Knife
To help fight the battle against rust, it’s a good idea to keep your hunting knife oiled. Use an all-purpose or firearm oil on the blade and, if you have a folding knife, on the lock mechanism. When oiling your knife:
– Avoid using too much oil, which will attract dirt and other particles, making the knife feel gummy.
– Oil only the blade, taking care not to get any on the handle. This will cause a slippery grip, which is the last thing a hunter needs out in the field.
– You can, however, treat a wood handle with special oils meant for wood, such as linseed.
A leather handle can be treated with mink oil or leather treatment products. There’s no need to treat handles made from rubber or artificial materials.
By properly cleaning and caring for your hunting knife, you can protect your investment and ensure this essential tool will keep performing season after season.