When it’s time to knife kill an enraged wild hog, your choice of hog hunting knife could mean the difference between a successful clean kill and confused chaos.
This time next year I expect to have completed a wild hog hunting project wherein I succeed in harvesting several hogs by conventional means (rifle and bow) as well as at least one via the “up close and personal” method, known as a knife kill.
This is, as I understand it, one of the most primal, adrenaline-pumping experiences a hunter can have. Basically the scenario, as described to me by my friend and hog hunting mentor, Jon Jackson, goes like this:
- Dogs trained to pursue and hold wild hogs at bay do just that, they pursue and hold an angry wild hog.
- You follow the dogs through rough terrain. Once you know that they’ve got a hog cornered you run like hell to get there before the situation deteriorates.
- Upon reaching the scene, out of breath and shaking with excitement, you wait for an opportune moment when the dogs have the enraged hog secured enough for you to rush in.
- You or someone else grab the hog by its hind legs, lifting them into the air and wrestling or tossing the hog onto its side on the ground.
- Then, big knife in hand, you move in and thrust the blade into its vitals, all while attempting to avoid those eviscerating hog tusks, slipping or getting tangled with the dogs and/or hog, missing your mark, or generally making yourself look like an incompetent greenhorn.
I’m looking forward to this hunt with a mix of excitement and anxiety. A significant part of my preparation for the hunt has to do with the primary tool used to accomplish the task of harvesting a hog: a knife. So I wanted some experienced, expert advice on hog hunting knives.
I asked Jon for some hog knife guidance, which he readily provided. He also suggested we solicit opinions on the subject from a few other longtime hog hunters. It turns out that while the following four individuals are highly experienced hog hunting experts – hundreds of wild hogs have become pork chops at their collective hands – their favorite knives are as uniquely individual as they are.
Jennifer Morris (Athens, Georgia)
Paramedic, owner Extreme Life Outfitters
“I have been hunting all my life. However, I started hog hunting with dogs about six years ago. I prefer Ka-Bar over most other knives because they have an entire line that is made in the U.S., which is important to me. Priced in the $50-$100 range, you just can’t beat them. It’s important to me that the knife is comfortable in my hand and on my side while I am hog hunting.
Tanto blades are made for penetration but any style of blade works. The Black Ka-Bar Tanto with an eight-inch blade made from 1095 Cro-Van steel is a great knife for the price (around $70). The blade is the perfect length at eight inches, but anywhere between six and eight inches will work. At eight inches you get the job done quickly and humanely. As far as sheaths go, I prefer Kydex, leather or hard plastic. Hogs head for the muddiest, nastiest swamp they can find, so I want a sheath that is easy to clean.”
Jon Jackson (Columbus, Georgia)
Hunter, Cook, Retired Military, president Stag Vets
“I have killed more hogs than I can count over the years. I hunt hogs mostly on Fort Benning’s 180,000 acres of forest and wetlands. It is against Ft. Benning installation policy to hunt hogs with dogs, so I hit the dirt and travel the swamps and creeks and ambush them in close quarters. It’s scary business but I love the rush.
A hog knife is the most essential piece of equipment for a hunter. Finding the right hog knife is the key. A boar’s bristles will dull a good knife in a split second and turn your hog hunting experience into chaos. Out of all the knives that I have used, I find that a knife with a heavier blade that can hold a good edge seems to work well. I like the SR Columbia S015 ‘Black Jungle’ survival, fixed blade knife. It holds a great edge. I used that knife on my first knife kill when hunting with dogs in Florida. The knife pierced straight through the tough hide and right into the vitals.
I believe a good hog knife with at least a minimum six-inch blade is mandatory, especially if you are using it to dispatch hogs quickly. When pushing a knife through the cavity of a wild boar it requires some pressure. Once the pressure gives you will need a good hand guard to offer better control.
I personally like the tactical application of the SR Columbia for the versatility of handling the knife with either a predominantly index finger hold or pinky finger. Another aspect of a good knife will be the thumb-rest, which should be on top of the hand guard. It’s important to have that slightly bevelled area with ridges to prevent thumb slippage. Any knife that I look for in the future will have to have the qualities of the SR Columbia. It’s the all-around knife for thrusting, gutting and skinning a wild boar.”
David Fairbanks (Watkinsville, Georgia)
David’s Goliath Kennel
“I have been hunting for 27 years, I run some hog hunting Facebook pages, and own a Black Mouth Cur and Dogo Argentina hog dog kennel. I live in North Georgia, and hunt in several areas of the state.
I’ve often been asked, ‘What type of knife is best for stickin’ a hog?’ Especially by the new hog dogger going on his first hunt.
My typical response is a knife 10 inches-12 inches in length, sharp, stainless steel, with slip guards to keep your hand from sliding up the blade. Spear-headed, with a double-edged blade is great. You want a good sheath too, one that will protect you from that blade, but more importantly one that will keep your knife from accidentally being popped out while running over rough terrain. Getting to a hog and having your knife MIA is a bad feeling. I know from experience. I would add that stainless or surgical steel makes it easy to clean with less threat of rusting if you can’t get to it with soap and water right away.
My favorite hog knife is one that has a lot of personal meaning and sentiment. It’s my grandfather’s WWII US Army issue bayonet.”
Dave Williams (Commerce, Georgia)
“Hog hunting with dogs is more than just a hobby for me. It is my passion and a lifestyle.
The most important factor for me in a hog hunting knife is durability. A knife needs to be able to take some serious abuse and never falter. I have had some ‘cheaper’ knives that couldn’t survive a single hunt with the requirements we demand on our outings. It is very important to know that I am carrying a rugged piece of equipment that will not fail me when I am in a potentially dangerous situation. Next to durability, I prefer a comfortable textured grip. We often will be in very inhospitable and wet environments, and we need a knife that will not slip when wet or dirty.
I like a blade length around seven inches. I have used both smaller and larger blades, but seven inches seems to be the sweet spot and offers a fine balance between stopping power and maneuverability. As far as blade steel, I have had good luck with 1095 Cro-Van steel blades. These seem to resist rust well, sharpen easily and maintain a good edge.
Similarly, the most important trait of a good sheath is durability. The sheath must be able to hold up under wet conditions and fit comfortably while running. I like a sheath with a high grade 1000D nylon and a wide back for comfort. A strong snap to keep the knife in place while running is very important as well.
Right now the Ka-Bar Baconmaker best fits my needs. It has a 7-⅛-inch 1095 Cro-Van recurve blade and an ‘Adventuregrip’ handle that I’ve been very impressed with. The sheath is also the most comfortable I have used and has held up well to regular abuse.
My only critique would be with the snap that holds the blade in its sheath. I have had this snag and come undone before. Thankfully, the sheath has a snug fit and the blade holds well even with the sheath unsnapped. Overall the Baconmaker is leaps and bounds better than the previous knives and sheaths I have used.”
So you see, while there is plenty of room for individual preference in choosing a hog hunting knife, a few qualities stand out as essential. At minimum, a good hog hunting knife should include:
- A blade no less than six inches in length.
- Good steel that is strong and durable, holds an edge and is preferably corrosion-resistant.
- A handle that is slip resistant and comfortable.
- A decent guard to prevent your hand from sliding down onto the blade.
- A sheath that is comfortable, stands up to abuse and, most importantly, securely holds the knife while in motion.
Wish me luck!