Use of the hunting sword

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I was admiring the very handsome Elijah Froedge hunting sword in the classifieds and got to wondering just how useful these might have been when they were popular, and what one might use one for today.
The aforementioned sword has a 17-inch blade and a stag handle, and comes with a baldric to drape the sword and scabbard over one's shoulder. These things have long fascinated me.
 

Boston123

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According to some quick research, "hunting swords" were ostensibly used for finishing off game animals in lieu of using more powder and shot. Although it brings up the question of "If the animal is so wounded or spent as to allow you to get close enough to shank them with a sword, do they really need to get stabbed"?

IIRC, some hunters in Colonial America carried short spears for the same reason, but those just seem more ..... "practical", both for their intended purpose and just in general.

Knowing that swords were still fairly expensive "back in the day", and that the people who needed to hunt for food likely didn't have the money to buy a sword, and that melee combat with things other than bayonets (and even bayonet-fights were rather rare) was pretty uncommon, to me hunting swords seem more like something that you wear to show off how wealthy you are.

A sword isn't useful in the way a spear or a tomahawk is.
 
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A surprising number of fowling pieces were sold with socket bayonets in the 18th century and some even had hollowed out butt stocks to carry the bayonets. Forum Member George has a lot of original newspaper advertisements for bayonets that were clearly intended for hunting use and not necessarily for the Militia.

Plug Bayonets were also used on dangerous game like boars, to turn the empty smoothbore into a spear.

There doesn't seem to be much use of hunting swords here in the Colonies, though. Even in the German States in the period, the hunters who could afford hunting swords almost always had at least one servant armed with a special Boar Hunting Spear. Perhaps that kept the Boar pinned to offer the Hunter an easier time to use the Hunting Sword for the Coup de Gras?

Gus
 
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Reading about Johann Ewald a Hessian officer in the Revolutionary War. He made sure his troops were armed with hunting swords and mentions using them often. They were the preferred weapon at close range for the Hessians.

Don
 

Loyalist Dave

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Plug Bayonets were also used on dangerous game like boars, to turn the empty smoothbore into a spear.

There doesn't seem to be much use of hunting swords here in the Colonies, though. Even in the German States in the period, the hunters who could afford hunting swords almost always had at least one servant armed with a special Boar Hunting Spear. Perhaps that kept the Boar pinned to offer the Hunter an easier time to use the Hunting Sword for the Coup de Gras?

We are forgetting expressions of male machismo. While a spear would be much "smarter" for use on a wounded boar or bear because it reduces the risk to the user, the heightened risk of closing with a wounded dangerous animal and using a short sword results in a greater amount of bragging rights. Meshach Browning often documents his own use of a butcher knife to dispatch a bear that he has wounded. Why not load a good powder load and double the patched ball and be thus "loaded for bear" and dispose of the need for the butcher knife? I suggest it was for the same reason German lads and men used hunting swords.....

LD
 

Bighorserider

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I know little about hunting swords or spears, but I used to know a guy who hunted boar with dogs and a knife. Is it possible the sword wasn't used after the animal had been shot but just after it was cornered by dogs?
 

Stony Broke

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Some guys still hunt feral hogs with knives...and there are some knives made for just that purpose. Dogs are used toget the hog cornered and the guys get in close and slip the knife into the heart. Not my hunting choice, but it's still done these days.....
 
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Some guys still hunt feral hogs with knives...and there are some knives made for just that purpose. Dogs are used toget the hog cornered and the guys get in close and slip the knife into the heart. Not my hunting choice, but it's still done these days.....

Yes it is, and if you want to try it, give Mitch Kemmer at Spartan Hunting Lodge a call (google it) and give it a go. Mitch has had people kill hogs with spears, knives, bows....you get the drift. Ever heard of Kemmer Curs (a type of dog) thats what he uses to corner them.
 

Stony Broke

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Never carried a sword, but always had a knife handy. This hog had been shot and started coming out of the shock and squirming around on the tailgate a lot, so I just gave him a taste of a Buck....
y1Dwj6fl.jpg
 

DixieTexian

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Back in the day when we used to chase pigs with dogs we would often catch them live, hog tie them, mark the spot on a GPS, and keep hunting. Later on we would come back and either dispatch them or carry them back to feed out on corn before killing them.
 

Sam squanch

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A razor sharp sword can be more deadly than being shot. You need to know where the major arteries are on what you wish to kill. People are cut up with the humble machete terribly these days….
 

Bob McBride

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Not a sword but a double edge Boar knife I made for a fellow in South Texas. This is their preferred way to dispatch them, not exactly a sport for the faint at heart.View attachment 99983

Yes sir. That’s how we did it in Texas back when, and I expect that is exactly how it was done in the period. The why is simply to dispatch them expeditiously and carry on with your day.
 

Gunny5821

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Alabama was the first State in the Union to allow the use of hunting deer with spears; however, after about three years, they banned the use of spears in taking deer. In talking to the local game warden a couple of weeks ago, I asked him about the spears. He laughed and said that he guessed the folks on the game commission thought hunters were taking too many deer, or they've had too many drive-by chunkings.

This is my Greek Spear Head I mounted and wrapped on a Ash bow rake handle. The handle is wrapped with dyed braded linen cord, finished off with 4 coats of Tru-Oil. Spears for pigs are still legal, and with a slip scabbard, it makes a dandy walking staff.
Greek Spear.jpg

Greek Spear Scabbard.jpg
 

DixieTexian

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Not a sword but a double edge Boar knife I made for a fellow in South Texas. This is their preferred way to dispatch them, not exactly a sport for the faint at heart.View attachment 99983
Nah, they taste better if you haul them off and feed them out in pens for a few weeks. Then it's just an unmentionable small bore rimfire to the head befor quartering them out.
 

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