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How to Sharpen a Hunting Knife? | 5 Simple Steps

How to Sharpen a Hunting Knife
Written by Marc Niad
Last Update: August 11, 2023

Starting from skinning your hunt to cutting the animal, hunting knives can get the job done for you.

Although very handy, these knives have a common problem; the blades get dull very easily.

Even if you have the best knife, you are never assured that it’ll retain its sharpness over time.

But how do you sharpen your hunting knives properly?

That’s what we’re exploring today. Let’s figure out how to sharpen a hunting knife like a PRO!

Many people sharpen their hunting and survival knives with a specialized hunting knife sharpener.

This is never recommended by knife manufacturers as this might permanently damage the cutting edge of the blade.

There are other ways you can easily sharpen your hunting and survival knife easily at home, without the worry of permanently damaging these.

How to Sharpen a Hunting Knife: Step-By-Step Guide

How to Sharpen a Hunting Knife Properly

Step 1: Know your equipment

To sharpen your hunting knife, you’ll need the following equipment:

  • The hunting knife that needs to be sharpened
  • Whetstone or Diamond Stone (or honing rod)
  • Mineral oil (or any other lubricant)

Before you start, it is wiser to experiment with an old, rusty knife before you sharpen your main knife.

This is recommended because you’ll need to get familiar with using the whetstone or the honing rod.

Sharpening the knife at the wrong angle can damage your knife, which is why expert hunters recommend sharpening an old knife before you sharpen your main one.

Step 2: Set your angle

Maintaining a constant angle for sharpening the knife is very important. If you mess up with the angle, the final result will be a non-uniform cut.

When sharpening, you should maintain a constant angle of 13 to 16 degrees with the whetstone.

Correct blade angle for sharpening

Step 3: Lubricate your sharpening stone

First, you must soak the sharpening stone in water for about 45 minutes.

Separate the stone from the water and apply a small amount of lubricating oil onto the sharpening stone.

You may use mineral oil or honing oil on the whetstone, diamond stone, or honing rod.

This will make the process of passing the knife over the surface of the sharpening stone a lot easier.

This will also reduce the number of steel shavings that persist.

How to Sharpen a Hunting Knife - Lubricate sharpening stone

Before lubricating, you must ensure that you’ve read the manufacturer’s guidelines on lubricating.

Some sharpening stones like carborundum are designed to be used when they are dry or wet, but they get damaged when oil is put onto them.

Step 4: Sharpening the cutting edge

Hold the knife at the angle mentioned above. Slowly rub the knife through the side with the rougher grit of the whetstone or honing rod.

This will chip off larger pieces of the knife, making the sharpening process a lot quicker.

After a while, you can sharpen the edge with the other side of the whetstone to ensure a finer finish.

How to Sharpen a Hunting Knife - Sharpening the cutting edge

When you’re done with one side of the knife, flip the knife and start sharpening the other side.

Make sure that you’re maintaining a specific angle while sharpening. Keep on sharpening till you get a smooth finish.

Step 5: Sharpening the serrated blades

The serrated blades are one of the main things that differentiate between your hunting knife and the common knife.

These serrated blades can retain their sharpness longer than the cutting edges, but these can be harder to sharpen.

How to Sharpen a Hunting Knife - Sharpening the serrated blades

You must use a honing rod to sharpen the serrated blades. To start, you must place the honing rod in the hooks of the blades.

By maintaining an angle, you must slowly rub the knife onto the rod. Keep on rubbing until you get a smooth finish.

Safety Precautions

Working with knives can cause injuries if you’re not careful enough. You must ensure that you know the following safety precautions:

  • Wear safety cut-resistant gloves
  • Place the sharpening stone away from your body
  • Handle the knife with care, even if it lacks the sharpness
  • Never let children sharpen the knife
  • Sharpen the knife slowly and never rush


It doesn’t matter if you have a Cutco hunting knife or a Japanese hunting knife or even a throwing knife, you can never ensure that these will retain their sharpness over a period.

Even the best-hunting knives can lose their sharpness.

Although sharpening the knife with a specialized hunting knife sharpener may seem easier to do, it will cause permanent damage to the cutting edge of the knife.

To prolong its lifespan, you can sharpen the knife at your home by following the steps mentioned above.

You must ensure that you follow the safety precautions and slowly sharpen your knife at the desired angle.

This will not only save you some dollars but will also increase the lifespan of the knife.

Once you’re set with your hunting knife, you’re set to go out and start hunting.

Look out for the animals using your rangefinder or your scope, effectively aiming toward your target.

And as you shoot the animal, you can approach the animal and process it on the go using your sharp hunting knife.

About the author

Marc Niad

It’s been several years that Marc, a retired teacher and a proud dad, has silently been piling up mature bucks down the South. This humble hunter began his hunting journey at quite an early age and since then, he spent countless hours in the woods and learned good lessons in terms of woodsmanship. Along the way, he also made money sharing his skill with his followers and well-wishers.

The Ranger Expert is the brainchild of this veteran hunter who loves hunting the swamps and the hills around the Mississippi and Homochitto rivers. His most favorite hunting technique is taking his climbing gear and going to the top of pines with a 25.06 – the old-fashioned way!

He gets most of his games during late December through mid-January – his favorite hunting time. Marc strongly believes that hard work, passion, and a bit of luck can bring you success in the wild.

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