I am certain that many a Blade Show attendee came home with an edged implement or two (if not more) that both tripped their particular trigger and in many cases put a sizable hole in their wallet.
I had my sights set on something rather different. Perhaps due to this fact the only thing I came home from the Blade Show with was a Fred Perrin custom titanium weave bracelet (or tactical wrist accessory if you rather). Floating about the show there was most certainly something there for everyone, but the more there is for everyone in most cases means less that there is for me. I tend to have a relatively narrow sight picture as far as my line of interest in edged implements is concerned.
The parameters of my line of interest are not worth while getting into for the most part, but I want to tell you about a knife that I found on the table of a custom maker that flipped a switch somewhere deep inside of me, that being the Jungle Tool.
It was my pleasure to make the acquaintance of Steve and Penny Staten, also Chris Privette who amung others was helping them man the Habilis Bushtools booth.
The first question one might ask is what is Habilis… or why does Habilis sound familiar?
Habilis (Hab-uh-luhs) is of Latin root. Meaning – Self Sufficient, Capable, Skillful, Competent, Proficient, Productive
Why this might sound familiar is due to an evolutionary ancestor named Homo- Habilis. Homo- Habilis is thought to be one of the first of our early ancestors to have utilized stone flakes as tools. Through using these tools Homo-Habilis was able to prosper in environments that others could not.
So, what was it that drew me to Habilis Bushtools?
In short I had stopped to look up at the stretched deer hide Habilis Bushtools banner above the booth, I than looked down and was immediately captured by a knife that I knew that I had to own. At the time the knife was in the hands of Chris Privette who was speaking with a customer. I looked right and then left and saw a model of the same on the table. “The Jungle Tool” said a voice from behind the glass. Steven Staten, owner operator, invited me to examine it.
As I lifted the Jungle Tool from its display, I immediately recognized everything in the knife that I had thought and hoped it would be. I felt the weight and the balance and then did what might have seemed to be an odd thing. I flicked the flat of the blade with my thumb nail to hear it resonate. Steven didn’t know it, but at that very moment, the Jungle Tool was mine.
I felt compelled to spill what was going on in my head because I could tell, that Steven could tell, that there was something on my mind. I explained to Steven that I had grown up on a truck farm and that my parents were vegetable farmers. We grew a bit of everything and whatever was not harvested by hand was harvested by knife. Like most any farm, it was a family affair, harvest season was my favorite season and anything that required harvesting with a knife was my passion; cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini and so on. We had numerous working knives on the farm but my favorite was an old butcher knife. It was an antique, a handmade old and tarnished high carbon steel knife with a pinned wooden handle; today I might guess it for 14 inches OAL. To me it was the best knife we had, and at my age the knife was medium sized machete. I couldn’t say how thick the blade steel was, but the resonation of the Jungle Tool as I once again flicked it with my thumb… I paused. “Feels like home” said Steven. “Abso-fucking-lutely”, I responded, as I continued to marvel at the blade.
I did not however purchase it right there on the spot. I was too astonished perhaps. Instead I continued to return to the booth, taking in a bit more of what they had to offer. I also chatted it up with Chris on subjects ranging from combatives to field craft and kept returning to the Jungle Tool while catching the knowing glance of Steven.
Then shit happened, I was only at the Blade Show for two of three days and miscellaneous opportunities and obligations kept me on the move until the very end of day two. I was flying out early the next morning, too early to do anything about getting my hands on MY knife.
I returned home with a cluster f* of things to do, catching up and balancing various bank accounts. However, at the very first opportunity I was on the phone with Habilis Bushtools, speaking with Penny, placing my order and had already commenced to anxiously awaiting its arrival. Days later it was in my hands.
I did not have time to go out and “play” with the Jungle tool straight away. None the less we were fast getting well acquainted. The feel of the Jungle Tool and the leverage when gripped in different configurations was fascinating. At my first opportunity I was out the door with my Jungle Tool; much like a child who had come home from school with no homework on some fine afternoon.
To the Woods
I headed out to a wooded area near by, Jungle Tool in hand delicately severing any tall standing vegetation in my path. I came upon a grouping of trees, mostly poplars and other soft wood near some young ash. I picked out a tree and started limbing, I had only intended to clear enough branches to strike down the tree in a single stroke but found myself getting carried away. In a flash of steel the job was done. Almost before the first tree hit the ground I had moved on to another, this time larger a specimen. Several trees later with my curiosity satisfied and with the Jungle Tool devouring every challenge like a starved carnivore I realized that I was missing out on a photo op that I would need to accompany the article.
I prepped a small tree with the idea in mind of capturing a moment that would represent as near as possible the first tree that I had struck down and headed back to the house to grab my wife to act as photographer. As she tossed on some shoes and grabbed the camera an image began to form in my head of the photos. I imagined the JungleTool in hand raised to the sky in one photo and the tree falling from a single stroke in the next frame. I did a poor job of explaining this to my wife. This should have required a tripod and a different lens perhaps. The photo failed to capture the falling tree as I had imagined, and I had just chopped down the only stand alone tree worth trying to capture such a shot. I informed my wife that I was going to continue into the woods and take more photos. She looked down at her shoes, which happened to be sandals, and handed me the camera…
Taking a “wack”
Not long after I came across an ideal candidate. The trunk was almost the diameter of a beer can at an appropriate height to make an ideal stroke against the wood for the purpose of demonstration. I cleared the limbs in perpetration and took my first stroke. As I began to swing the Jungle Tool I became aware of the… very expensive camera that was hanging over my shoulder, I suddenly and aggressively held back still striking the tree with an awkward “wack”. Damn it! All my fun was starting to spoil over a photo shoot. I repositioned the camera, tossed the strap over my head and slung it around my back. At this point, a bit determined even, I struck the tree with tremendous force. The cut was so deep that I could have pushed the tree over using little if any effort. I took one additional stroke and listened to the sound of the air rushing through the branches as it fell.
I returned home, cleaned my knife and succumbed to the other demands of mans “free time”, grocery shopping… I wondered into the store still thinking about The Habilis Jungle Tool and the review that I intended to produce about it. Than the thought struck me that I needed to do some food prep with this knife in order to round things off a bit. I purchase one of those European cucumbers, the long skinny ones that are typically twelve inches or more in length.
As a bushcraft tool even the Jungle Tool is not intended for a one dimensional purpose. I had a multitude of uses for the Jungle Tool in mind already, from food prep to utilizing the width of the blade as a platform to lay a “birds nest” as a way to shield it from wet earth and deliver it into the heart of carefully prepared pile of tinder, just to name a few. For demonstrational purposes, I had my cucumber.
I have some rather fine kitchen cutlery that I am simply not going to compare the Jungle Tool to; however, it made short, fast and precise work of the cucumber. When I was finished I was able to scoop the entire chopped cucumber onto the blade and deliver it into a pot without dropping a single piece. This may be a small note, but to me, a note worth sharing.
In closing The Habilis Jungle Tool has earned its seat at my camp fire and a permanent spot in my ruck. I look forward to perhaps a lifetimes use from this fine tool by Habilis Bushcraft.
- 1075 High Carbon Steel
- Rockwell 48
- G-10 Handle
- 17 3/4 Overall Length
- 9 1/2″ Blade
- 3/32″ Thick
- Convex Grind
- Gun Blued Finish
- Custom Leather Sheath with Sling
The Jungle Tool Features
- Continuous Curved Blade
- Bolo/Barong Hybrid Shape
- Multiposition Handle with 2-Tone Grip End
- Convex Cutting Edge
- Integrated Guard