My Dream Knife

The tall lanky young man that sat in my living room was about to leave, after a pleasant visit, when he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out one of the best surprises of my life. In his deep unassuming voice he stated, as he handed a knife in a brown sheath to me, “I know we just never got the knife you really wanted, but I think you will like this one.” Pulling the knife from its sheath I was shocked, it really was the knife I have wanted for many years!

I have written many times that the knife I chose to use during my long career as a wildlife manager, hunting outfitter & guide, and outdoor writer was the USA made Schrade Old Timer model 125 OT, a large folding, lock-blade knife who’s USA made version long ago faded from outdoor gear catalogs. For over five decades I have depended upon that knife for most of my guiding and outdoor writing adventures.

My first 125OT was given to me in about 1970 by Henry Baer of the Schrade Walden Cutlery Co. with the challenge to try it as my knife while guiding big game hunters. He felt sure I would like it. I gave the knife a lot of hard use and it became my knife of choice. Made from 1095 high carbon steel, the 4 ½ -inch clip point blade held an edge well and was quick and easy to sharpen in the field. The contoured 5-inch handle fit my hand nicely. That knife saw much of the outdoor world with me, and it is still in good shape.

For many years I wished for a fixed blade belt knife design that had all the qualities of the 125OT but could never find one. Then I met Lucas Bullington (shown with me in the photo at the top of the page) of Lucas Forge (, a master bladesmith who custom makes many high quality knifes including one called the Frontier Clip Point that was very similar to the knife of my dreams. I purchased a 3 ½-inch Frontier and liked it so much I later had Lucas make me one with a slightly larger 4 ½-inch handle with a 4-inch blade. It is really a good general purpose camp knife but still not quite the fixed-blade custom knife based on the 125OT I had wished for, that was until the surprise visit from Lucas.

Lucas and I decided to name the new knife “Old Guide” as I am an old guide and the idea for the design came from the Henry Baer’s Old Timer brand of knives. Since Lucas turned the Old Guide over to me, I have used it for farm chores, on turkey hunts, trout fishing trips and for camp chores. It rides well in the custom leather sheath, made by Lucas brother Ike Bullington, a master leather craftsman. I have cut hay bailing cord, sliced tomatoes, cleaned wild turkey, smeared mayonnaise on bread, cleaned fish and cut kindling with the Old Guide and I can say this is the knife I always wanted. The flat grind blade is hand forged from O-1 high carbon steel with a Lucas Forge aged finish. It holds an edge for long periods of use and can be sharpened quickly and easily in the field. The handsome handle is made from fancy curly maple with brass pins and a brass lanyard hole liner. Lucas contoured the handle, like the 125OT, to fit the users hand to minimize slippage.

I knew the Old Guide was a winner when after seeing it master woodsman Medrick Northrop contacted Lucas to see about having another made.  I don’t know how many moons I have left of living on the trail, but this will be my knife until that time comes, then one of my sons can slide it onto his belt. Thank you, Lucas, for my dream knife.


Old School Outdoor Gear Technology

Recently I was working on a magazine article concerning the great old companies that once proudly made, in the USA, excellent outdoor gear. They sold the gear to seasoned trappers, hunters, anglers and expeditions who’s daily lives depending upon the gear holding up against hard use.

It brought back many fond memories. An item, as an example, is my old Eddie Bauer arctic sleeping bag that I ordered custom made back in about 1967. Many of you may not remember, but in those days Eddie Bauer was a company that outfitted expeditions, hunters and anglers, not a women’s fashion clothing store.

In 1967 I knew that my budding outdoor career was going to take me to some of the coldest environments in the world and I wanted the best gear I could find. Even though money was scarce in those early days, I ordered a custom made extra-large Karma Koram sleeping bag that was 72”X34” with a rip-stop nylon cover. Instead of the 3 pounds of goose down filling the catalog offered, I had 5 pounds of goose down put in mine. Rather than a half-length zipper I ordered a full-length extra heavy duty zipper. I also ordered a flannel liner to go into the bag. I actually talked with the person making the bag on the phone as the bag was being made. When the bill came it was a staggering $85.00. What would a bag like that cost today?

The bag has served me well in temperatures far below zero and on trips that lasted two months or more. It is as good today as it was when new, and it still looks almost new. A tribute to hand-made gear made by companies who took pride in their work, back in the good old days.

My thanks go to Mr. Colin Berg at Eddie Bauer for the 1967 catalog photos.


For over four decades I have depended upon the Schrade Model 125OT knife for most of my guiding and outdoor writing adventures. My first 125OT was given to me by Henry Baer of the Schrade Walden Cutlery Co. back in the late 60’s with the challenge to try it as my knife while guiding big game hunters. He felt sure I would like it. I gave the USA made folding knife a lot of hard use and it became my knife of choice for much of my career. Made from 1095 high carbon steel, the 4-inch clip point blade held an edge well and was quick and easy to sharpen in the field.

Recently I decided I wanted a high quality all-purpose hunting/fishing/camp fixed blade knife that had a high carbon steel blade design similar to the 125OT. My woods roaming buddy, Medrick Northrop, wanted one also, so we began a search to find a forge that could produce such a knife.

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As dawn broke on the eastern horizon my fishing buddy, outdoor writer John Phillips, and I were sitting at the launching ramp on Lake Eufaula Alabama watching two mid-size alligators patrol the open water just outside the boat launch area. The June morning was somewhat comfortable for this part of Dixie thanks to a brisk breeze blowing out of the west. It was the perfect beginning of a two day crappie trip that should be on the bucket list of every angler.

John and I were at Lake Eufaula to defy the odds, we were looking for a crappie fishing adventure that was worthy of magazine articles and web copy. There were a couple of things against us from the day we decided this was a challenge we were willing to accept. First, the 45,181 acre reservoir is known for largemouth bass, not crappie. Second, any crappie fisherman worth his salt knows June is not a good month for catching slab-sided crappie.

Two additional challenges developed long before daylight the first morning of our trip. When we left our room at the beautiful Lakepoint State Park Resort Lodge a fairly strong westerly wind hit us in the face, the lake would be choppy. As we walked to the lodge dining room across the lighted parking lot, it caught our attention that the lights were attracting huge swarms of willow flies. The air around the launch site was filled with flying bugs; the fish would be gorged on the massive number of willow flies and not interest in our baits, no matter what we used.

As we watched the gators swimming in the early morning light, waiting for our guide, John and I discussed all the odds against us having a successful day of crappie fishing. “Not to worry,” John said with a smile on his face, “I’ve lined us up with one of the best crappie guides in the country, Tony Adams. Tony is passionate about crappie fishing and under the worst of conditions he can produce fish.”

Tony’s Structure

For each crappie habitat, Tony as the location recorded.

What John knew that I didn’t was that Tony is constantly putting out “crappie habitat” and has places to fish, regardless of the wind and the weather. He takes a 5-gallon plastic bucket and fills it with concrete, sticking several tall stalks of river cane in it. He puts these fish attractors, John called “crappie habitat” out in groups of five to 10 buckets and may have four or five groups of 10 buckets each in the same general area. He records the location of each on his Hummingbird Helix 12 GPS depth finder. He has placed several hundred of these “crappie habitats” in the lake and he easily can move from one habitat to the other and continuously catch crappie, without having to run all over the lake, or overfishing one location.

Tony has placed the habitat buckets at water depths where he knows the crappie hold at different times of the year so he can catch crappie in the hot summer months, the cold winter months, as well as the spring and fall, often when most people aren’t crappie fishing.

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