Are we the Walter Mittys of knives?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by not2sharp, Jan 12, 2021.

  1. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    A casual glance at YouTube or the discussions here would have you believe that we spend most of our time battoning, making feather sticks and burning wood. Indeed we are left with the impression of a vast army of giant human-size termites devouring a forest at speeds that would impress Paul Bunyan. But, we know it’s not true, if it were so we wouldn’t see the conflagrations that engulf many populated states happening with such regularity. All of the dead wood fall in those forest would be feeding camp fires and roasting marshmallows rather than ending up in a forest inferno.

    It’s cool to be whimsical as a little whim is often what separates fun from hard labor. So if you want to imagine yourself whittling a 100’ spruce into a 200’ anchor chain, then power to you. But, I do wish that there were more places where we could do it for real. Adult summer camp where we could witness or participate in shelter building, log cabin or fascine construction. Where only hand tools are used so we can appreciate how things were done back in the 18th century. I realize there probably are a few “living museums” operating. But, I doubt that many of these achieve a level where we can see entire communities being established, using a wide array of cutting tools.

    Let me know if you aware of anything like this. It is ok to have a fertile imagination, but it would be better if it were grounded in reality so we can better appreciate how our favorite tools were actually used .

  2. JPD1998

    JPD1998 Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 18, 2004
    I'm a member of a Rod & Gun club. We let the local Boy Scout troop use our 400 acre property for meetings and campouts.

    It's amazing to watch the boy scouts make traps, spears, shelters, canoes and fire starting, just using knives and axes.

    I've watched them compete amongst themselves building fires the quickest and using hunting tools, just using gear they made.
    Some of the knives were handmade by one of the scout masters.

    The scout masters that teach these skills are doing everything we see in those YouTube videos and more.
  3. Shorttime


    Oct 16, 2011
    There are about a kajillion (obscure numerical term) courses about "bushcraft". The ESEE guys run some where you fly down to someplace near the equator, and learn how to survive with what you've got in your luggage. I don't think any of these are what you want.

    A little bit of waffling with search terms turned up this article:

    Somebody's blog, I guess? They're out there, for sure, and this group says they have a fair number of people who come to them because they want to learn how to live off-grid. Lots of people are willing to take you on an extended camping trip, if you sign a check. Finding people who have fully committed to a pre-steam lifestyle may be a little difficult, because they don't advertise what they're doing.

    Edit: even this lot has some electric equipment, and a codified "visiting season". I guess they don't want to risk a freshling freezing to death?
  4. DMG

    DMG Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 30, 2005
    I have a house on several wooded acres and spend a lot of time outdoors. My user knives get used. Even my spares will get used this spring when I teach a basic outdoor survival class on my property, coordinated through our Makespace.

    I also own/work in an auto repair shop which is pretty hard on a knife.

    I think most people here are here because they use and appreciate mans first true tool, a cutting implement.
    David Mary, Atomic Inc and jfk1110 like this.
  5. abcdef


    Oct 28, 2005
    Knife content. Quote below from the Wildroots site. Those guys really know their stuff.

    "A good knife is almost essential – and don’t forget a sharpening stone. The knife should be of good quality, but doesn’t need to be expensive. A good, inexpensive knife to consider is the Mora brand fixed blade knife."

    This site will probably post a 2021 schedule:
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
  6. desmobob


    May 5, 2003
    Jsega51 likes this.
  7. jackknife


    Oct 2, 2004
    "Are we the Walter Mitty of knives?"


    We, the afflicted and obsessed knife nut, have elevated a mundane, inanimate object to a cult worship item of huge proportions that are totally our of wack with reality.

    For most of us in the early 21st century, we won't be skinning any buffalo, surviving in the Rocky Mountain winter trapping beaver while dodging hostile Indians, nor fighting off enemy paratroopers while shouting "WOLVERINES!"

    For most of us living in modern suburbia, we don't really need any more kore than a keychain size SAK classic. But what fun is that? We are obsessed with the knife, so we dream up jobs that need a knife, like battoning through logs to make kindling, chichis good practice for the day we may get marooned in the Alaska wilderness and need to make a cabin with a pocket knife.

    We need most of the knives we accumulate as much as the car nut needs the Porsche 911 to commute to work or run down to the store for a quart of milk. But it is more fun that driving a Honda Civic. And I guess that its more fun hacking up the wilderness with a Kukri than making camp with a mundane Sven saw for the heavy work. So we'll justify the knife for our pursuit of fun. Well dream up jobs to do with out wonder knives that are not really needed, but fun for the hobby. Thats okay, as long as you realize that its just that; a fun hobby that very little to do with real life.

    Keeping in mind that about 3/4th the worlds people don't bother to carry a knife anymore, and the others just have some mundane box cutter, big box store blister packed item from Asia, or in the tropics a semi rusty machete, how much do we need in 21st century suburbia?

    Unless we're invaded by enemy paratroopers, then all bets are off.

    Yes, we are Walter Mitty's.
    Triton, jc57, Bigbobg and 1 other person like this.
  8. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Gold Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    As someone with the training and experience to live this sort of lifestyle, I absolutely can say that I never would for any stretch of time longer than a week or two. The first time I slipped and hurt myself, or someone in the group had to pass a kidney stone, or a tooth broke or was decaying, we'd be running to the nearest modern medical facility, that's for sure. I have a friend who's super into naturopathy, and even he doesn't mess around when he has an actual medical issue. "Well, this plant will help with X, and this other plant can be brewed into a tea that fights Y", yeah that all sounds great. It also all goes by the wayside and he hits the pharmacy for the prescriptions his doctor prescribes. Also, I don't care WHERE you are in North America, I wouldn't be drinking ground water unfiltered like that. But hey, that's me, and I'm glad those folks have found a way of life they enjoy.
    Pilsner likes this.
  9. cbrstar


    Sep 7, 2015
    How's it any different then the guy who buys a super expensive "Gentleman's" knife? Are they buying into a luxury lifestyle they can't afford? They have dreams of being a international playboy or something? I've seen it where people blow $10k on a Rolex but have to take the bus or are driving a $500 car.

    IMHO People buy these things to fulfill an emotional need that isn't being met. The guy who buys the bush crafter tacticool knife might need to feel secure and self sufficient. The guy who buys the sleek $2k custom might need to feel sophisticated. I admit that I have personally been on both ends of the spectrum and still do.

    It's easy to point fingers at a guy who wants to go out in the woods and live off the land. But first take a look at your closet/garage at all the unused sports and fitness equipment you "don't have time for anymore".
    David Mary and jc57 like this.
  10. spoonrobot


    May 1, 2004
    There's a difference between learning skills and indulging in fantasy. It's a fine line that many users cross over from time to time.

    Learning and practicing bushcraft or survival skills are just part of a well rounded curriculum for the average Joe. It's like knowing how to change a tire or use a fire extinguisher effectively. You don't go around (all the time) fantasizing that a bus full of super models with a flat tire needs saving or that your office is going to conflagrate and only you can put out the fire quickly and safely. Same as it is useful to know how to process wood or start a fire with minimal supplies without falling into the trap that TEOTWAWKI is always going to happen next Monday.

    Back before they all died, the guys I knew who collected coins or stamps didn't think they were suddenly going to have to spring into action and mail 100 letters or pay for everyone's groceries with rare coinage. It was just something they liked to collect. For many it's the same with knives, it's fun to collect them as well as use them to do projects or learn and practice skills.
    upnorth likes this.
  11. desmobob


    May 5, 2003
    ...and no. Lots of folks use their knives every day for work. And lots of folks are backpackers and hunters who do depend on their knives in the field. (I'm in that category.) But the oversize navajas, tantos and combat knives in my knife drawer represent the Walter Mitty part of me, for sure. :) (At least so far... who knows where this crazy world is headed!)
    DMG likes this.
  12. killgar


    Sep 24, 2002
    I'd say I'm less Walter Mitty and more Peter Pan.

    When I think "Walter Mitty" I think of someone who fantasizes about exiting adventures and acts of heroism. That's not me.

    For me, at the age of 51, since I have virtually no need for knives anymore, my interest in knives is mostly about the kid in me who never grew up (and I don't want him to). I'm drawn to knives that have very little practical value (folding stilettos, stiletto switchblades), but that satisfy my childhood infatuation, and fascination with such knives.

    As you can see, that kid is alive and well (and very happy :))

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
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  13. sabre cat

    sabre cat Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    We are dating ourselves when we admit that we even know who Walter Mitty is. LOL
    Pilsner, desmobob and not2sharp like this.
  14. sabre cat

    sabre cat Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    I as a very young lad, I wanted to know which SAK the Swiss military carried. It has only been in the last few years that I have gained that knowledge. :)
    killgar likes this.
  15. killgar


    Sep 24, 2002
    A new movie version was made in 2013.

    There, now I don't feel so old :D.
    sabre cat likes this.
  16. sabre cat

    sabre cat Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    I was thinking the version with Danny Kay.
    jackknife likes this.
  17. jackknife


    Oct 2, 2004
    I actually remember that one. Now I feel really old.:(

    Oh wait, I really am!:eek:
    Pilsner likes this.
  18. upnorth

    upnorth Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    Right on. I think that there are a lot of "middle ground" folks out there. I never really gave a flying fig about "Bushcraft", I find the topic boring, except that some of the concepts teach me interesting/useful skills. Why the selective interest ? Since I was a pre teen I was always outside running around with a .22 or fishing rod. I have many correlated interests like evening fires out at the lake with the wife, metal detecting, hunting, fishing, knives, axes, North American Fur Trade history etc. Hell, years ago I was riding a motorcycle out of town with a metal detector bungeed to the rear turn signal stocks, and a Becker Brute hanging down my leg. I remember a police car easing up beside me for a look, then moving on. I turned out of town toward the Boreal forest and wound the Kawasaki to about 8000 rpm through the gears to hear that after market pipe screeching, I just reshimed the valves and installed a new cam chain that summer. I did manage to get myself extremely close to being lost in the Boreal once, at a remote location. I remember scaring up a moose and having it crash through the bush. I actually found a single Elk antler and still hauled it back out despite having to control my fear/panic about coming close to spending the night in the middle of nowhere, bug eaten, tired, torn pants, after slogging through tea colored ice water up to my crotch for hours, off and on. I could go on and on about running out of water and having to pour out back swimmer bugs when I scooped the bog water to drink. Yada, yada. That experience spooked me and was a game changer, where I realized that I was semi ignorant and unprepared for what I got myself into. And I still refused to leave that huge half Elk rack, lol. I still have it. Anyway, some of us have had experiences, been to very remote locations, have interests, where it makes sense to learn a few survival and cutting tool basics. I had to learn a lot as my needs/interests changed. Some of my knife/axe use has evolved with more knowledge/experience. And sites like Bladeforums, and others, have helped me on the learning curve. I've never gone super hard core on some of this stuff as it was never a priority, but a peripheral interest. If anything, with time my knife/axe use and thinking keeps evolving.
    dirc likes this.
  19. bolabeenz


    Jun 23, 2012
    Somebody had to.
    Weiss, Hal, sabre cat and 1 other person like this.
  20. barleywino

    barleywino Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Jul 11, 2020

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