The first time I ever saw a Havalon knife was in Wyoming. I was skinning some beaver carcasses with a mountain lion hunter who always kept a Piranta clipped to his pants pocket, and he was telling me that he could skin half a dozen beavers or an entire bull elk with just one of the replaceable razor blades – each of which cost him about as much as you’d get for returning a couple refundable beer cans.
At the time, I didn’t pay much attention to his claims—we were skinning a pile of fur, after all—but I was reminded of them awhile later when I stumbled across a Havalon advertisement in the back of Western Hunter magazine. I ordered a Havalon Piranta, along with a box of one hundred replacement blades, and started messing around with it.
The first thing I noticed was how light and manageable the knife was. It was about the size of a cigarette lighter, and a dozen replacement blades took up no more room than a pack of gum. The second thing I noticed was that the knife could open up a deer as easily as Han Solo opens that Tauntaun with his lightsaber in Empire Strikes Back. I’d never used something so sharp. In fact, my only criticism of the knife was that it was too sharp. It cut things almost magically, as though it could start slicing an object before it even came into contact with it. In order to master the Havalon, I had to undo a few habits that I picked up during a lifetime of using conventional knives. However, the learning curve was more pleasurable than annoying. After all, the first hunter to use a bow-and-arrow had to undo a habit or two that he picked up from a lifetime of throwing spears – but he sure as hell was glad he went through the trouble.
Since that first excursion on the blacktail deer, I’ve used my Havalon Piranta on the following: cottontail rabbit; gray squirrel; fox squirrel; gar pike; black bear; wild hog; javelina; blacktail deer; mallard; pintail; scaup; bufflehead; whitetail deer; mule deer; beaver; moose; axis deer; red deer; antelope; aoudad, and a few things I can’t remember right now. More importantly, perhaps, I’ve used it to conduct successful extractions on more than a few ingrown toe nails. (One should note that Havalon is a division of Havels, a maker of scalpel and autopsy blades.) Now, I’ve begun to regard my own old sharpening stones as strange relics from a bygone era. I even find myself getting all nostalgic and teary-eyed for the days of dull knives. That last sentence was a joke, of course, but this next one isn’t: If you want a sharp knife that gets stuff done without a hassle, get a Havalon. At least until lightsabers go on sale.