One’s favorite knife, like firearms and other outdoor gear, can be a heated debate around any campfire where several real woodsmen gather. What one woodsman likes may not be what you like, and vice versa. The best knife makes for an interesting discussion.

During my half century of being in the company of outdoorsmen who depended on knives daily and spending many hours researching those who came before them, I came up with a list of some of the better known outdoorsmen and the knife they considered their favorites. As you read down this list you will quickly see that there is no one knife that fits all.

NessmuckGeorge Washington Sears, aka Nessmuck 1821- 1890. Nessmuck best known as being America’s first outdoor writer. He wrote for Forest & Stream magazine and was the author of the book Woodcraft & Camping which is still in print today. He is famous for his “trinity of cutting tools” which consisted of a small double-bit hatchet, a belt knife which he designed and a moose-style pocket knife with spey and clip blades.

Ben LillyBen Lilly 1856 – 1936. Lilly was a woods wanderer from an early age. He became best known as a hunter of large predators in the southwestern US and northern Mexico. His favorite knife was a large S-shaped double edge bowie knife he made for “sticking big cats and bears.” His camp knife was a more traditional Green River style blade with an antler handle.

Teddy RooseveltTeddy Roosevelt 1858 – 1919. Roosevelt is best known as the hero of San Juan Hill and the 26th President of the U.S. However Roosevelt was a seasoned outdoorsman and wrote several books on hunting and the outdoor life. During his cowboy days in the Dakota Territory and his early big game hunts his knife choice was a large silver inlayed Bowie knife made by Tiffany & Co. in 1884. In 1907 it seems he switched to a Marble’s knife designed by Roosevelt’s friend and fellow big game hunter Dall DeWeese.

Read More


He is as rare and endangered as any critter in North America, perhaps more so. No, I’m not talking about a Black-footed ferret or the Florida panther. I am speaking of the “woodsman”.

I grew up in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, when outdoor magazines were a colorful mix of adventure stories with really useful “how-to” information thrown in to help the reader learn a collection of outdoor skills that was called “woodsmanship”.

Writers such as Charlie Elliott, Fred Bear, John Jobson, Ted Trueblood, Russell Annabel, and Townsend Whelen took us to the most remote corners of North America. These men could use a canoe like an Indian, navigate by the stars, and cook scrumptious meals in a reflector oven. They could sharpen an ax, track game across a bed of rock, butcher a deer, and make a comfortable shelter using only a tarp.

Read More