How to Maintain and Take Care of Your Hunting Knife

Maintain and Take Care of Your Hunting Knife cover

A good hunting knife will not only cut your bacon but might, on occasion, save it too. It goes without saying that you should value your knife the same way you value your hiking shoes and your tent. Perhaps even more so. And by valuing your knife, I mean providing proper care and maintenance.

I am guessing that you’ve read the specialty knives guides and you already possess a high quality hunting knife. Whether it’s a budget knife or an expensive brand, the impact of a well-kept knife is huge. It’s your responsibility to increase the lifespan of your hunting knife. Want to know how?

Here are a few tips to help you get the very best out of your hunting knife:

Clean Your Hunting Knife

Never put away your knife, unless it is clean and dry. Your knife is a workhorse, so it’s bound to get wet and dirty. Best practice dictates that your knife is clean and dry before you sheath it or store it away.

Ever our hands release oils and will make your knife dirty. Especially if the hands are sweaty. Since sweat contain minerals such as ammonia and salt, it can penetrate the metal easily, causing metal corrosion.

Most of steel knives are dishwasher safe, but that doesn’t mean that this is the correct technique to clean your hunting knife.

How to Clean Your Hunting Knife

Here are the proper steps:

  1. Wash your knife with some hot soapy water (dish soap and water). To clean carbon steel knives, use water and baking soda.
  2. Use a non-scratchy soft cloth to dry clean your knife. Make sure you don’t scrape the blade though.
  3. If your knife contains strong stains, use a blend of salt and vinegar and rag to remove them. After that, clean the knife again with dish soap and water and dry it with a soft cloth.
  4. Don’t touch the steel with your hands. The sweat from our hands contains ammonia, urea and salt and is left behind from our fingerprints.
  5. Finally, store your knife in a dry and clean place.

Dry Clean Your Hunting Knife

Store your Knife in Good Condition

Once you cleaned your knife properly, it’s time to safely place it. If you plan to use your knife in near future, it is advised to keep it in a thermoformable (acrylic-polyvinyl) or nylon sheath.

However, if you plan to store your knife for a longer period of time, then use a plain paper. Wrap your cleaned and dry knife in it and put it in a plastic bag. It is highly recommended to use desiccant as well.

What about leather sheath? Well, it makes a good outdoor storage for your knife, but avoid leaving the knife in it for a longer period of time. The reason behind this advice are the chemicals that are used to create the sheath.  The leather sheath is not acid-free and will lead to knife corrosion.

It is highly recommended to store your knife in dry places, free from humidity. Storing a knife in a soiled condition is something you should avoid. And remember, don’t leave your knife exposed to moist.

Lubricate the Knife

To reduce friction, all objects require lubricators. Machines, cars and other moving objects – all use oils to make the friction as small as possible. Hunting knives, whether folding or not, create friction too and we use oil to reduce it.

Lubricate your knife with all-purpose oil to keep it from getting rusty and to protect it from corrosion. Besides, folding knives require proper lubrication to remain efficient. Any oil-based lubricant applied to the various moving parts will ensure its function.

Lubricate folding knife with Oil

Don’t overdo it and remember to wipe away any excess oil. In fact, let’s talk about the steps how to lubricate your hunting knife properly.

How to Lubricate Your Hunting Knife

To perform the lubrication correctly, here is step-by-step guide to follow:

  1. Use a small amount of oil to lube your hunting knife. Using too much oil will attach unwanted elements to your knife.
  2. The oil should be all-purpose, enabling a complete care for your knife.
  3. Be cautious, oiling the handle will make it slippery. Use a linseed oil to lubricate a wooden handle. Leather handles can be treated with mink oil. Rubber handles (or other synthetic materials) don’t require oiling.
  4. In case you are lubricating a folding knife, don’t forget to use oil on the joints and other moving components.
  5. Rub away any excess oil with a cleaning cloth.

Lube oiled folding hunting knife with wooden handle

Sharpening Your Knife

Regular honing of the blade helps to ensure it remains sharp and crisp, ready for the next task. Using a whetstone to sharpen your hunting knife is even more serious and professional way to make sure your knife is extra sharp.

Think of honing as changing the oil in your car, and sharpening as a complete tune-up of the motor. It is recommended to hone your hunting knife after every use.

Choose the Right Knife for the Task

Don’t abuse the knife. Keep in mind that specialty knives are designed for specific purposes.  Choosing the right knife for the task at hand is crucial to keep your knife at its very best.

Choosing The Right Knife for the Task

A camping knife is designed to be used for tasks around the campsite. Unless it comes with a pommel built into the base, you’ll be well advised not to use it as a hammer. Also, avoid using the knife as an ice pick or a screwdriver. Most importantly, don’t practice throwing it, unless it’s specially designed throwing knife.

Wrapping It Up

Cleaning your knife is crucial to maintain a perfect form. It’s a well-worth investment of time and money. Honing your knife regularly is strictly advised, just as whetstone sharpening from time to time. Store your knife in a good condition and on dry places. Obtaining a proper sheath is a must, too.

In the end, the best way to take care of your knife is to use it only for its purpose. Thus, choose a specialized knife for a specific task. After all, showing our knives some love is a sign of a professional hunter.

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