Today’s hunting experience is typically laden with modern technology. From multi-tools that include a camping knife, to high-powered rifle scopes, to special telescopic lenses, most hunters rely on a plethora of gizmos to take down their game. However, one ancient, gadget-free form of hunting is gaining popularity in the southern United States: knife hunting.
Knife hunting is one of the oldest hunting methods known to humans. For millennia, our ancestors took down prey using only their hunting knives. A modern knife hunter does the same, using a fixed-blade hunting knife. Almost exclusively, these hunters kill wild boar –razorbacks, as they are commonly known in their breeding grounds throughout the southern United States. Read on for an introduction to this dangerous yet thrilling sport.
The History of Knife Hunting
Hunting knives have played a central role in human survival since the Stone Age, when our ancestors chipped rocks into sharp-edged primitive knives. The ancient Egyptians modified the design of the hunting knife by adding a fixed wooden handle. By the time of the ancient Greeks, bronze was being used for the blades of hunting knives. Steel wasn’t used for knife blades until the time of the Roman Empire. Throughout prehistoric and ancient history, knife hunting was passed down as a method of taking down game.
Today’s knife hunters primarily kill wild boar, a name used for nearly any species of feral pig in the southeastern United States. Using a hunting knife with a fixed handle, modern knife hunters often wait to attack until the boar charges at them head-on. Some knife hunters bring dogs with them to flush out or even pin the boar; others use only their hunting knives, quick reflexes and lightning-quick intellect to take on razorback boars. Considering the impressive dimensions and body armor of the wild boar, a successful kill is quite a feat for knife hunters.
Characteristics of the Razorback Wild Boar
The predecessors of today’s razorbacks were introduced for hunting purposes in the early 1900s. Razorbacks are huge animals that may weigh up to 1,000 pounds. Topping out at nine feet in length, razorbacks are formidable foes for any hunter. Bristly hair covers the body of the razorback, so named because a thicker ridge of hair lines the animals’ spine. Wild boars can run as fast as 25 miles per hour.
When charging, razorbacks aim their four sharp tusks at attackers. The animal’s final line of defense against hunting knives is a scaly hide on its chest; this hide would deflect a normal camping knife. Only the sharpest hunting knife, applied at the correct angle, can pierce the wild boar’s natural chest armor.
Knives Used for Knife Hunting
The traits of the razorback require knife hunters to choose their hunting knives carefully. For example, while a camping knife may come in handy for cleaning game and preparing food, it is not a good weapon for knife hunting; it’s just not strong enough. Likewise, a folding hunting knife could be your downfall if you face off with a wild boar – the blade could fold down just as you try to stab the boar to death.
The best kind of hunting knife for boar hunting has a long, strong, sharp blade. A Bowie knife will work well. Alternatively, there are special hunting knives made for hunting razorbacks. These “pig stickers” or “pig strikers” may have blades that are up to fifteen inches long.
How Knife Hunters Take Down Their Prey
Some knife hunters partner with dogs to kill wild boars; others go it alone. The dog’s job in a boar-hunting expedition is to find the razorback and flush it out of the underbrush. Some dogs are also trained to pin the boar’s ears back, and thereby get a grip to wrestle it to the ground. In this case, the knife hunter would approach the pig and quickly grab its legs to flip it onto its back. If this is not working well, the hunter might stab the boar in the back to weaken the animal. Finally, the boar hunter would thrust a trustworthy hunting knife into the razorback’s soft belly.
Knife hunters who do not use dogs instead wait for the razorback to charge at them. Once the animal is within reaching distance, the hunter knocks the razorback to the ground and stabs it with his hunting knife.
Although knife hunting may seem especially violent, many knife hunting advocates point out that this sport places humans and their prey on a more equal playing field than traditional gun hunting.