The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

Knives Save Lives: Man vs. Bear

Over the past few months, there’s been a deadly rash of attacks from grizzly bears, brown bears, black bears and even rampaging polar bears. This should remind us that whenever you go camping or into the wilderness, you should always be prepared for anything.

Back in 2003, one amazing man demonstrated why it’s important to always be ready with a knife in your pocket.

According to the Associated Press, John Hirsch, then a 61-year-old outdoorsman, was out in his backyard tending to his flock of 15 turkeys when he was surprised by a hungry visitor.

A mangy black bear had stumbled into his Canadian backyard desperately in search of food. Once Hirsch noticed the bear was coming straight at him without stopping, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his knife. Unfortunately, the only blade he had on him was a mere 3 1/2 inches.

This is when you separate the men from the boys. Instead of being afraid and cowering in fear, Hirsch stood up to the bear with his small blade ready for battle.

Hirsch and the bear began circling one another, akin to boxers in the rink. This is the way Hirsch described it:

“It was like a knife fight that you’d see in an old-time Western,” he said. The bear swatted out at him, but each time it lunged, he managed to stab it.

The bear would swing its powerful claw, but Hirsch would duck and stab the beast. During their fight, he stabbed the bear three times in the chest and once in the neck. After the final blow to its neck, the bear keeled over and died.

Although black bears aren’t as big as other types, this particular one was 5 foot 7 and weighed 200 lbs. A conservationist afterward said the bear was pretty trashed before the fight and had a severed tongue, hadn’t eaten in weeks and suffered a broken jaw.

Commendably, Hirsch said he was always confident he would beat the bear, which says something about his manly character. He will always be a part of the annals of the Knives Save Lives series.

Even though the blade was only 3 1/2 inches, its availability aided Hirsch in his fight against nature. It’s hard to say what would have happened without the knife (though know Hirsch, it’s likely he could have killed it with his bare hands), but you shouldn’t have to find out.

Just remember if you live or go camping in bear country, make sure you always have keen blade on hand.


Timothy Martinez Jr. is the community director for Knife Depot and the editor of The Cutting Edge. If you have any questions or ideas for The Cutting Edge, you can contact him at
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  1. I wouldn’t go out the door without at least one, if not 3! Every blad has it’s own uses, and that’s what they’re used for. I don’t understand people who dont’ carry at least a small pocket knife-my wife even has a samll Leatherman in her purse!

  2. When I go out I carry three knives. A rescue knife, a multi-tool ( Leatherman ) ,and a fixed blade. Some people say it’s overkill but I don’t care

  3. I don’t carry a fixed blade, but a good lockback, usually Shrade, the leatherman, and a small 2blade for things like spinters, tape, whatnot. I’ve been carrying at least one knife since 6 years old, and got Papaw’s worn out(to him!) Case. It’s still in my nightstand, and looks like a toothpock, but slips a splinter smooth as oil. ha

  4. I go no where with out a small leatherman and a folding lock blade and a red bandanna and my billfold . never have ! even in school when I was young . but now days you can go to jail if caught with a knife in school . and some goverment buildings you can’t bring in a knife . another case of loosing our freedom in this country !

  5. This is why I don’t leave my house without a knife. I also carry a gun, but sometimes the knife can help you where a gun wouldn’t in the wilderness. Would have it been easier if he had a gun, maybe, but leaving your house or going camping without either is just a bad idea. Good for this man in the story!

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