By Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Wisconsin –-(Ammoland.com)- It was the summer of 1978 and I was headed up the Alaskan Highway with my new bride. We were on our Honeymoon. After crossing into Alaska from the Yukon Territory the first place we stopped to sightsee was Fairbanks.
It just so happened that the Eskimo Olympics were being held at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks so we decided to attend. There were all kinds of native outdoor skills being demonstrated in competition.
When they hauled in the freshly thawed frozen seal carcasses I figured we were in for something, you would never see in the lower-48.
Eskimo women armed with Ulu knives came out and proceeded to butcher and skin the dead seals in record time. This was my first contact with an Ulu knife. The Ulu is a rounded bladed knife, (think of a smile) with a wooden handle attached at the top.
To cut with it you push the blade in to the seal and then drag it along to slice tissue. The Ulu has been around since as far back as 2500 BC. In the early historical days they were made of a stone blade with a bone handle attached at the top of the knife. After white men showed up with metal, the modern Ulu was made of steel but still had a bone handle.
The concept of a stone bladed tool that you pushed downward and then dragged along to cut was not exclusive to Alaska. In the Great Red Desert near Farson, Wyoming a similar stone tool was used for cutting, chopping and skinning. Instead of a curved (smile) type of blade this Wyoming version of an ancient cutting tool had more of a rounded “L” shaped, sharpened blade that provided plenty of cutting surface in an overall shorter length.
Mike Jones of Fremont Knives (fremontknives.com) with the guidance of master knife designer Mike Draper seized upon this idea and took it to the modern conclusion. Using the ancient concept, adding stainless steel, they came up with a tool every Airman should have in his/her survival kit, the Farson Blade.
It is just under six inches in length but because of the curved “L” shaped blade you have eight inches of cutting surface. It weighs less than eight ounces, so the first thing I did was slide it (while inside its case) into the cargo pocket of my pants. You do not even know it is there.
When you take the Farson Blade out of the box the concept of brass knuckles may come to mind. Your hand slips into the center of the bade and you do in fact hold it like a pair of brass knuckles. The power to the cutting blade comes from your ability to chop down or even punch forward with the force of your arm.
The top of the Farson Blade ( http://tiny.cc/2lxqdx ) is wrapped with para-cord to cushion the handle and give you better holding control. If you need more striking energy for a task such as chopping wood you can turn the Farson Blade into an ax by lashing it to a 12-18 inch branch, using the para-cord that comes with it. The number one thing you have to have with you in any kind of crisis situation, whether it is surviving a downed aircraft, lost in the jungles of our next US conflict, or withstanding the advances of the local “walker” community, is a well made knife. Having a tool that functions as a knife, with the ability to morph into an ax is a major plus.
The Farson Blade is surprisingly handy in the cooking world also. When I showed it to the Colonel I told her it was for the kitchen and then I proceeded to cut up a pear that was sitting on the counter and it is a natural for slicing up pizza.
But as handy as it is as a tool of convenience in the bush or in the kitchen it is also most assuredly a weapon for close-in defense, with the ability to deliver substantial damage on the receiving end of evil DNA. It is extremely sharp and with the curved design if you drop it, just let it fall, do not try to catch it on the way down.
In this past mid-west winter it would have make a great ice scraper. Having had both the Farson Blade and an Ulu in my hand I believe you have better control in directing your cutting force with the Farson. It is light, very compact and thin, easily finding a place in any emergency gear bag or just your pocket.
The world is quickly becoming a dangerous place. The Russians will invade Ukraine and they will only stop when they get to Paris and now North Korea is firing on South Korea. It is time to prepare and well made tools help.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret. / [email protected]
Order your own Fremont Knives Farson Blade on Amazon: http://tiny.cc/2lxqdx
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” [email protected]