There’s a reason some knife designs are classics, and the Hudson Bay Trade Knife has earned its wilderness credentials.
The roach belly design goes back to the 1700s, and Knife selection at rendezvouses were generally pretty standard. The Hudson Bay Trade Knife comes in a variety of handles materials, both traditional and state of the art. The pattern was very popular because of the knife’s usefulness in skinning game quickly and efficiently. Bark River has taken this pattern and updated it with superior steel and improved handle material. Design: A Roach Belly was a go-to pattern back east and when the mountain men headed west to trap furs.
Handle: An ongoing challenge for me is finding a knife handle long enough for my glove-size large hands.
Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist.
As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome.
Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters.


After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49.
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Records from that era show most Indians and mountain men were members of the big knife school of wilderness cutlery. The shallow saber grind gave a very sharp edge and still allowed for splitting wood quickly for camp fires. I compared the trade knife’s belly to skinners I regularly use, and found the working belly to be very similar to my Nessmuck, Canadian and Russell butcher knife.


I used a BR Sahara and Kalahari Hunter on deer this season, and the A-2 steel holds a razor edge.
But I’m also guessing that a lot of other users will find this design to be very useful for a lot of modern-day bushcraft and survival uses. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships. Popular patterns included the standard 10-inch butcher knife, five-inch upswept point and the roach belly. I used each knife to completely gut, skin and quarter a whitetail, and both were still shaving sharp when the job was over. This gives you an edge to scrape fatwood for tinder, scraping a hide or using with a ferrocerium rod.
Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. A mountain man would have traded a lot of pelts for a knife that stayed that sharp, that long.



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