Use of the hunting sword

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum:

BillinOregon

Cannon
MLF Supporter
Joined
Aug 4, 2004
Messages
7,150
Reaction score
428
Location
Alamogordo, New Mexico
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

40 Cal
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
149
Reaction score
100
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.
 

Artificer

Cannon
MLF Supporter
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
13,139
Reaction score
5,972
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 Spence10 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
 

Nazgul58

40 Cal
MLF Supporter
Joined
Apr 21, 2020
Messages
243
Reaction score
400
Location
Southern Indiana
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
 

tenngun

Cannon
MLF Supporter
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
18,145
Reaction score
11,207
Location
Republic mo
Boar and bear can be pretty mean. And still fight long after they are dead, at least soon to be dead. A sword might be pretty handy
 

Loyalist Dave

Cannon
Staff member
Moderator
MLF Supporter
Joined
Nov 22, 2011
Messages
11,175
Reaction score
5,407
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
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

40 Cal
Joined
Apr 20, 2013
Messages
166
Reaction score
103
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

32 Cal.
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Messages
722
Reaction score
592
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.....
 
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
432
Reaction score
575
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.
 

DixieTexian

Pilgrim
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
21
Reaction score
16
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

50 Cal.
Joined
Oct 9, 2019
Messages
1,114
Reaction score
1,159
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

54 Cal.
Joined
Apr 23, 2020
Messages
1,765
Reaction score
3,403
Location
Short Mountain, TN
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

Richard Turner
MLF Supporter
Joined
Sep 17, 2020
Messages
225
Reaction score
418
Location
Alabama
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

Pilgrim
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
21
Reaction score
16
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.
 

stank

40 Cal
MLF Supporter
Joined
Jan 26, 2019
Messages
103
Reaction score
50
I would think that some of the German immigrants that came to the new world would have brought hunting swords along with their Jaeger rifles
 

Oldbear63

40 Cal
MLF Supporter
Joined
Apr 19, 2019
Messages
164
Reaction score
94
Location
Southern California
Watch this Australian boar hunt carefully. They seem to be careful about editing out the stab, but they are using a knife to dispatch the boar:
 

Bighorserider

40 Cal
Joined
Apr 20, 2013
Messages
166
Reaction score
103
The guy I knew who hunted pigs with a knife was in Hawaii. I never saw any pigs out hiking, but saw plenty of spoor.
 

m-g willy

40 Cal.
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
251
Reaction score
6
Watch this Australian boar hunt carefully. They seem to be careful about editing out the stab, but they are using a knife to dispatch the boar:
I think the dogs should get about 100% of the credit on that style of boar hunting.
 
Top