Hunting knives are typically carried for one purpose, field dressing game and you should choose a knife that you’re very comfortable using for that purpose. However, a knife is an all purpose tool, and if you ever end up in a survival situation, there are a few alternative uses for it.
Alternative Uses for Your Hunting Knife
One thing to note before we delve into some of the possible uses for your knife, some knifes are definetly better suited for these activities than others. A good survival knife should be full tang, fixed blade. This makes for the most rigid knife, which also makes it ideal for field dressing. That’s not to say that a folding knife or a half tang one can’t be used for these purposes, but it’s unlikely to perform as well.
Basic Cutting Jobs
Obviously a knife is a good tool for cutting things, it’s what it’s designed for. However, beyond using it for field dressing, a knife is also great for chopping vegetables at camp, slicing open packages, peeling fruit, and cutting bandages to the correct size. If you get into a really nasty situation with a large wound, you can create a tourniquet to stem the blood loss by cutting a strip of your shirt, wrapping a loop of it around the limb and then placing a stick through the free ends to create twisting mechanism and tighten the device (not too tightly though, as this will cause nerve damage).
Starting a Fire
Few things can be as critical for keeping you alive as having a fire. You use it to stay warm, dry your clothes, cook your food, signal for help, and deter predators. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to start a fire if they’re lacked a butane lighter or some matches. These devices are prone to failure though, matches can wet and a lighter can run out of fuel or the flint could break. This is where your hunting knife comes in handy. Instead of packing those easy to use, but unreliable fire starting devices, bring along a ferro rod. By striking one of these with the backside of your knife you can unleash a shower of sparks that will easily ignite some dry tinder. If you’re worried about wet conditions, bring along a few vaseline soaked cotton balls, which burn for several minutes, and you’ll have a roaring fire going in no time.
This one will impress everyone at your camp and will keep you’re campfire burning hot throughout the evening. If you have a few logs that are a little too big around, place your knife face down (with the sharp edge sinking into the flat face of the log), and than start tapping the back edge of it with a sturdy piece of wood. Keep doing this until the blade sinks in and starts to split the log apart. It’s a very similar method to how you split logs using a wedge and sledgehammer. The size of log that you’re capable of processing will be limited by the length of your knife (if it’s a six inch blade you probably have trouble splitting a log more than four inches or so in diameter).
Pounding Tent Stakes
It’s never fun to be setting up your tent only to realize that the ground is so hard that you can’t get the stakes in. Most people will go searching for an adequately large rock to hammer them in, but there’s no need to when you have you’re hunting knife so close by. Carefully pound the stakes in using the handle or back edge of the knife (whichever is easier). How useful this is really depends on the size of your knife – the bigger it is the better it will work.
Digging a Cat Hole
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a cat hole is where you go when nature calls. They’re dug about six inches deep and after you’ve done your business, you cover the hole with dirt and rocks. Digging a hole with your knife isn’t ideal (you’ll definitely need to sharpen it when you get home), but if you don’t possess any other tools for digging, a knife will get the job done.
Whittling When You’re Bored
Some hunters like to wait for the game to come to them, and this involves a lot of sitting around and watching to see if something comes by. In that down time, you can use your hunting knife to do a little whittling (wood carving). If you get good at it, you can carve some basic shapes and you’ll have something to talk about if aren’t able to fill your tag for the day.
As you can see, a quality hunting knife can be used in a number of situations. So don’t skimp when buying one, as your life might depend on it later.