Sabertooth® Knife Stories
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Hello Mr. Spivey
Let me begin by writing that it is an incredible honor to have spoken to you on the phone today. Thank you so much for taking the time to look up my Sabertooth #286, and providing me with its history and its first owner Thomas E. Vogel. Taking the time to talk to me about my recent adventure was no small gift. I appreciate your interest in The Walk, and the unspoken understanding we share.
My name is Jesse WhiteCrow, and I dreampt of walking across America since I was six. When I was about to turn forty I decided that some dreams are not meant to be shelved. Most of my life has been in preparation for this journey. In the eighties I was a combat paratrooper in the elite 82nd Airborne Division, non-commissioned officer and medic.
Of course I could fill chapters about this adventure but that is the book I am assembling from thousands of pages of field notes and photographs. I did not receive my #286 Sabertooth until I reached Cody, Wyoming. I did not pay for it. I traded a small gold coin, a gifted handmade knife, and a small hatchet I bought with the money the Navajo Nation when I left Farmington, New Mexico. For four days I was a part time co-host on Navajo Radio with George Werito, and spoke at several at many of the reservation schools. I wanted their kind donations to be more than lunch money, but rather something I carried with me and beyond.
I had faced many black bears on the east coast. When I hit Wyoming I knew that I needed a real blade. Across from the Irma Hotel I wandered into a western collector's oddity shop. The Sabertooth spoke to me right away, far louder than the vintage Puma, and worn Nam era military blades. After going back to my gear at a friend's house (Scary Mary of Cody), I gathered my gold coin, hatchet, and a handmade blade a friend gave me when I left Thermopolis, Wyoming. With a big smile, I later walked away with my prized Sabertooth without opening my wallet. Yes, the gold coin was a gift too.
In the end I have walked over 8,000 miles in three years. The walk was a huge 'W' across America from Maine to Louisiana, across Texas to No Man's Land in OK, down to New Mexico where I was shot at with a rifle, north to Montana, across to the Oregon coast and most of the western Washington until I hit Cape Flattery, the highest northwest point in the lower 48.
I would be happy to send you photographs, map and any information you would be interested in. You knife was perfect for my thousand and one needs. From eating snakes to feeding my humble fire, your knife never failed me. In all honesty, I never knew anything about the blade I carried. It worked and faced two grizzles, but they had no interest in me.
Now, after having walked America with me, the knife has become...priceless.
With Sincere Regards, Jesse WhiteCrow
P.S. Out of all the knives I could have chosen to walk with and trust my life to, I chose yours, or your blade chose me. I have been blessed.
Terry Sheesley, a retired airplane crash inspector and wildlife photographer,
headed for the Mark Twain forest in
It was the 19th of January 2004 when Terry had finally given up on finding #357 and purchased his second Sabertooth #627. The handle is Bird’s eye Maple and lined with brass. Terry loves his new knife but, “Its presence will never blur the fond memories of my wilderness companion #357,” he said.
(Cross-Country Sabertooth# 357)
#357, which was lost by Terry Sheesley, in 2002 in the
long after Harley added #357 to his collection I got a call from
Aaron DeVenuta, a solider in
(Cross-Country Sabertooth# 357)
* * *
Doug, an avid hunter took an Alaskan trip. He ventured onto a remote village inlet and headed straight for the only combination bar and restaurant there. The village was mostly log dwellings and the restaurant-bar was filled with stuffed elk heads, bear skins, deer horns and wolf hides. The air reeked of tobacco smoke and men were playing blackjack at a corner table. Doug noticed that one of the men was wearing a Sabertooth knife. Doug approached the man who had a long beard and was puffing on a yellow sap-stem pipe, its heavy bowl resting on the table top in front of him.
“Hey!” Doug chirped, in a moment of pause, “You’ve got a Sabertooth! I know the guy who made it.”
“You do, huh?”
“I sure do!” Then Doug headed for the door. “I’ll be right back. I’ve got something to show you.” A minute later, Doug was back. He unfolded a Los Angles Times tabloid, titled, From Sea to Shining Sea. It was the story of Jefferson Spivey’s 4,000 mile horseback journey across America. “There he is, and here’s the story of his Sabertooth knife. You can have them. Can I see your knife?” The man handed Doug his Sabertooth.
“Boy! This is an old Trail model. Spivey only made a hundred of these.”
“How long have you had it?” The man considered and then pointed his pipe. “That man had it first, in Vietnam. “The deal is this; whoever gets the biggest Elk gets the knife! Three hunts back I got it, and then he got it back. I got it again and I’ve had it for the last two years.”
(Trail model Sabertooth # unknown)
* * *
Joe, hungry and weary, parked his camper shelled pickup several yards from a roadside cafe off I-70, in western Kansas. After an unsuccessful hunt in Colorado, Joe was on his way to Texas. It was around 8:30 pm when Joe finished his steak dinner and left the café to continue south. The sun was setting in the west and shining in his face. He unlocked the driver door and stood on the running board to close the open hatch of his homemade, over-the-cab camper shell. At that instant, the muzzle of a .45 automatic pistol was pressed against his back. The man with the gun was obviously ready to take over the whole operation; Joe’s cash, his “ride” and -- quite possibly his life! But Joe was not going to give up easy. His hand eased open the hatch that he had nearly closed and there at his finger tips was his Sabertooth knife. Joe took a grip on the handle and said to the robber, “Can I step down?” The gunman stepped back.
“Go ahead…but try anything, I’ll drop’ya right here,” he said.
The instant both feet were on the ground Joe swung quickly and whipped the sawtooth spine of the Sabertooth against the gunman’s head. There was a loud scream and the man grabbed the side of his head. His jaw sagged and the lobe of his ear dangled as blood spewed through his fingers. Joe was no longer in danger; the gun lay at his feet.
People along with an off duty deputy sheriff came from the cafe.
“Boy! He said, “You really put the make on this guy. I’ll have to confiscate that knife!” (The Deputy knew a good thing when he saw it.)
“No you won’t, Deputy,” Joe said firmly. “You’re not taking my knife! All I did was, protect myself.”
The deputy relented. The gunman was taken to a nearby infirmary. Joe followed the deputy and signed a statement.
Joe said that he will never be without his Sabertooth.
(Trail Sabertooth # unknown)
* * *
Harvey Tedford, got up one morning and looked out the window sleepy-eyed at a beautiful day. But, then something wasn’t quite right. His classic ’83 El Camino had gone missing and it did not roll away on its own. Harvey loved “old blue”, but for him, it wasn’t so much the loss of the El Camino that bothered him, it was his missing Sabertooth knife that troubled him the most. He had left the knife beneath the driver seat.
When the police finally found the El Camino, they called Harvey. The car was in bad shape. The first thing Harvey did was look under the seat. His favorite Sabertooth, #261 was gone. Harvey has seven Sabertooth knives. #261 was a Standard model, with a smooth-spine from the very beginning. At that time, aside from the Cowboy Hall model, only 261 were in existence. Anyway, Harvey had found the El Camino; perhaps he could now find his Sabertooth. Being a good judge of humanity, Harvey scoured the south side of town as that is where most of the pawnshops reside. He had just about given up when he remembered a new shopping center with a pawnshop on the North side. When he walked in the door the first thing he saw was his stolen Sabertooth. It was on the top shelf of a glass showcase. After a ton of paperwork and three long months of waiting, Harvey was able to bring home # 261. Since then, Harvey sold the El Camino, but Sabertooth, #261 is still his cherished prize.
* * *
Ron Brown, a private investigator, good friend and fellow equestrian, likes to tell his story to just about everyone he meets. As a personal favor Ron had tracked down and recovered a gun-rig with a custom silver and turquoise buckle which had been borrowed but never returned. I asked Ron what I owed him. “Nothing,” he replied, but knowing all the hours he had spent on the case, I refused to accept his kind gesture. I told him I would build him a Sabertooth. “Okay,” he agreed. “Make it special. Something I will want to keep forever!”
A month later we met again. This time for dinner, after which we went to our cars in the parking lot behind the restaurant. Ron impatiently salivated while I dug into the trunk of my car for that “special” Sabertooth. Ron looked it over very carefully. It had Beau d’arc handles and was brass lined. But, hey! Ron thought to himself, I don’t see anything really that special here.
“Jeff, this looks a lot like my other Sabertooth.”
For many years I have been aware of Ron’s choice of handgun and caliber which, after getting him out of “hotspots” more than a few times, has been his constant companion since his days in Vietnam. I looked him in the eye and said.
“What caliber is your gun?”
“A .45 Colt Automatic, you know that,” he said.
“Well, that Sabertooth is a .45 two! Look at the serial number.”
Ron looked down and read it aloud…452.” Then it hit him. “Ha! I get it! It’s forty-five-two.” He smiled happily and reached for my hand. “Thanks, Jeff. I really like it,” he said, meaning he loved it, of course. That was eight years ago and from then on, into the present, #452 is a permanent fixture in Ron’s life.
* * *
As told by Eric “Chief” Redd, the man who owned and carried them.
#1 Beautiful wood handled, I no longer have it or a picture. I made the mistake of wearing it to when being introduced to a Korean General and later President Chun Doo-hwan. He presented me with a wakizashi (short sword) obligating me to give him something in return and the sabertooth was all I had. The general had a long and not so distinguished career; he was eventually charged with corruption, treason and mutiny and sentenced to death later commuted to life prison, then pardoned, do to political pressure.
#2.Sabertooth proof 1 V (smooth spine).&.#3 USA-000 (saw tooth-hand cut), each has it’s own distinct personality and are stained and rust pitted attesting to the fact they are blades of experience and were never wall hangers. Their names would also validate their individual experiences but they are not for public utterance. Yep, I am more than a bit superstitious.
I have carried each depending on how I happened to feel at the time on many deployments as a Special Forces Warrant Officer on and A-Team with 3rd Special Forces Group. They have been with me in just about every part of the world; Afghanistan, Iraq and 16 different countries in Africa, including a number of coups. More than treasures they are trusted friends with sprits of their own and have been interchangeable slipped into the sheath on my load bearing equipment (LBE) for a very long time.
Harley Duncan, a rancher and Sabertooth knife collector called me one day and said, “Some ol’boy up in Michigan’s got a Sabertooth on eBay for sale, Jeff. It’s got a blue handle and it has no serial number. Did you ever make a knife like that?”
“Yes, a few! They had ugly blue-green experimental handles, but all had serial numbers. I can’t believe it doesn’t have a number…are you sure? Those experimental handle were used on the old patent model…the serial number was on the finger-guard. You need to check it out.”
The following week Harley called again. “Jeff! The guy insists the knife has no number. It has ACS on the finger-guard; it’s a Smoothspine with an antique finish. Also, he says it’s been used quite a lot.”
“ACS? That’s my son’s initials…Aaron Christian Spivey! I don’t get it! I gave that knife to Aaron way-back-when…at the very beginning! That was his old hacker. What’s it doing in Michigan? How much does he want?”
“I need to call Aaron…that knife might be stolen.”
I called and when Aaron finally remembered what he had done with the knife, he explained. It had been a few years back and he had hired a man to help re-roofed his house. He said that the man had eyes for the old Sabertooth hacker that he kept on his dresser. Aaron let the man examine the knife, the likes of which he had never seen before. The man just couldn’t keep his eyes off the knife. Aaron, recognizing an opportunity came to the conclusion that he could get the roof done without spending a dime. The lesson is, when you give a kid something, who’s to blame, when he follows your example? So, that’s what he did! When the job was finished Aaron gave the man the Sabertooth for all his work. They shook hands and the man happily headed north.
What happened later to Harley and the knife on eBay? Harley sent a check for 350 bucks and soon the blue handle hacker was keeping company with more than a hundred Sabertooth knives in his collection. Shortly afterwards, Harley called me. “Jeff,” he said. “When you see Aaron, tell him if he ever wants his Sabertooth, it’ll be right here and it won’t cost him a dime.”
(Standard Sabertooth designated, ACS)
Even I have a Sabertooth story to tell.
I wonder, are numbers as spiritually momentous as words? Quite often I get calls from individuals wanting a Sabertooth with a particular serial number. Perhaps the number they want matches the day, month and year of their birth or an anniversary date. Sometimes, the number is less personal, but no doubt, just as significant to those who have decided the meaning for themselves. A spiritual inclination can sometimes come out of the blue. Or maybe it was there all along and a particular event brought it to the surface. When I rode on horseback across the continent a spiritual awareness arose inside and I have been aware of it ever since. It was my first ride and it took seven months and 4000 miles through all the seasons to go from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. It was a life changing experience. And, it was during that ride in 1968, that I invented the Sabertooth Knife.
In 1983 I was getting ready to make another major horseback ride. This time, I would ride down the Rocky Mountain chain, from Canada to Mexico. The National Cowboy Hall of Fame was going to get involved, supposedly! Director, Dean Krakel was trying to get the Chairman to okay sponsorship for the project. The ride itself was to promote the Freedom Trails, a national wide concept of non-motorized trails. I was excited and geared up to go. My horse Najah was ready and I had a saddle of my own design. I did not want to take first Sabertooth #1, its time had passed. I had just finished building a new Sabertooth for the journey. The wood of the knife was Bird’s eye Maple, matching the one-peace butt of my Colt .45. And, unlike Sabertooth #1; this knife had a Sawtooth-spine.
I waited but things weren’t going too well at the Cowboy Hall. Dean Krakel called and said “wait one more week!” I looked outside and knew that I was about to get in trouble. The season window was closing fast, but I complied with Dean’s wishes and then it was too late, I called it off. It was late August and there was no way I could stay ahead of the approaching winter on horseback.
“Maybe next spring,” I told Dean Krakel. But I had already decided to make the Canada to Mexico ride strictly on my own.
I spread my gun-rig on the bed and looked at it admiringly. The Colt and Sabertooth were a matched set. I slipped the knife from its sheath and noticed something. I walked into the kitchen and showed Allison. “Look!” I said, tapping the serial number. “284! It means I’ll make the ride next year, in ’84.”
“Two eighty four?” She said. “What does the two mean?” She thought she had me.
“The two means, the second ride, 1984!” I smiled. And, it all turned out to be true. I made the Canada to Mexico ride, down the Rocky Mountains with Sabertooth #284, snug at my side.
(Standard Sabertooth with Sawtooth spine #284) js
Editorial note by John Rohloff.
Obviously, by such stories, people who own Sabertooth knives carry and use them. However, there are people, like me. I own an original Sabertooth #855 but I can’t use it, it’s too beautiful to use. The thought of hacking and chopping and digging with such a regal weapon would be too distressful. Well, guess what? Jefferson Spivey is, at this moment, gearing up to build a Sabertooth knife that I, and anyone who wants, can actually use! “I have dreamed of having this knife to carry and use on my camping trips or hunting excursions.” The wait is over. Noah Snider who owns an original Sabertooth #050 said, “The problem is, those of us who own one, know the knife’s history and how valuable a collector’s item it has become. I know of a Sabertooth that sold for $3,000! I would hate to use something that valuable to saw or hack anything. But with the new Trademark model coming out, I can. And I plan to do just that!”
(Cross-Country Sabertooth #855) (Cross-Country Sabertooth #050)
405-792-2233 - email@example.com
Jefferson Spivey, LLC
If it’s not made in the USA, it’s not a Sabertooth knife.