Don’t forget to sharpen your knife

You’ve cleaned your rifle or shotgun, and you’ve tuned up your bow. You have your backpack loaded for the first hunt of the season. But there’s one more item you don’t want to neglect.

Most hunters sight in their rifles every year. Some even do some heavy-duty practicing before the season starts. The same goes for archers. They tune their bows, and they make sure they can consistently make shots at thirty, forty or even fifty yards.

And shotgunners often go to the trap club nearly every weekend before the first day of the bird season. After each trip, they clean, oil and lube their guns.

But what about your poor little knife? Does it get the attention it desperately needs? Do you sharpen it before you go hunting, or do you just shove it in your pack or pocket, or thread its sheath onto your belt?

For most of my hunts, it doesn’t matter whether my knife is sharp as a razor or dull as a rock. Nine hunts out of ten, it never comes out of my pocket or pack. But on the rare occasion that I bring down a game animal, I want it to be sharp enough to get the job done.

Not only is a dull knife dangerous, as all of our fathers used to tell us, but it makes a mess of a game animal. And if the game animal in question is a big one, like a deer or an elk, it can be extremely frustrating.

I try to never carry a dull knife, hunting season or not. But the knife I carry every day sometimes gets a little on the dull side. I use it for cutting bale strings on the hay I feed to my horses each morning and night, and it doesn’t always get sharpened as much as it should.

But the night before a hunting trip, that knife and all the other ones I plan to take with me get new edges, whether they need ‘em or not. And when I’m done, I poke the sharpener into the pack or a pocket of my hunting pants.

So check your licenses, clean your guns, tune your bow and check your licenses again. But before you consider yourself ready for opening day, sharpen up your knife. When you harvest a critter, you’ll be glad you did.

 

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