After a fun morning Utah duck hunting on public land, Kevin Booth and Ramsey Russell visit at the Out of Cache Custom Knives shop. Kevin grew up hunting in Utah with his dad, but it was his sons that drug him back into it. With a fervor. His Out of Cache knife hobby-business began as one of many do-it-yourself projects that kept he and his sons busy during the off season to include long-tail motors and much more. How’d his sons pull him back into duck hunting and why do they really spend so much time in the shop? Where’d the name “Out of Cache” originate and what is a duck zipper? What is the Canvasback Club, how do you join, what do members receive? Why does Kevin think that hand-crafted items such as his knives feel warm to the touch? This Duck Season Somewhere episode is about putting your heart into everything you do and spending t-i-m-e with those that matter most.
Out of Cache Custom Knives (Facebook)
Visiting the Out of Cache Custom Knives Shop
Ramsey Russell: I’m your host, Ramsey Russell. Join me here to listen to those conversations. And we’re back, from Utah. Duck Season Somewhere. If you told me a couple of years ago that I would fall in love with the state of Utah for its duck hunting, I would’ve called you crazy. But I really do love it out here. It’s a lot of public land. It’s a lot of cool people. The duck hunting is good. The species diversity, the weather. I really, truly love everything about it. Today’s guest is a close friend of mine, now. I met him last year while I was out here. His name is Kevin Booth. We hunt together. We talk all year. He’s a knife carver and a daddy and a heck of a good guy. We’ve become good friends. How are you today, Kevin?
Kevin Booth: I’m hanging in there. Round and round, as they say.
Ramsey Russell: You worn out from this morning’s duck hunt, is that what it is?
Kevin Booth: Ah, it’s been a long day already.
Ramsey Russell: Two mornings in a row, and you’re already starting to drag a little bit.
Kevin Booth: Yeah. Well, when Captain Tony calls and tells you to be there at 5:00, you’d better be there at 4:30, you know?
Ramsey Russell: That was a brisk hunt today. I thought the weather called for about a seven to ten mile an hour wind, and it felt like twenty or thirty at times.
Kevin Booth: Yeah, at least. Or twenty-five miles an hour. Yeah. It’s that North wind that’s coming down out of the North. It just gets up under your coat, and whew.
Ramsey Russell: I was glad that the boat you brought today had that windbreaker blind on it.
Kevin Booth: Yeah, that’s nice, huh? My buddy that hunts with us, from Nevada, likes to be comfortable, so when we built that, I put that windbreaker in there for him. He enjoys that quite a bit.
Back to Duck Hunting in Utah
They were just watching me, smiling from ear to ear. Just happy that I was back out and happy again. It felt good.
Ramsey Russell: Kevin, did you grow up duck hunting out here in Utah?
Kevin Booth: Kind of. When we turned eight, my dad would take us with him. We’d go a little bit. He’d go once or twice a year, go to this place just North of here called Cutler Marsh. We’d head down there. As I got a little bit older, he owned several restaurants and managed them and stuff. His philosophy, all along, was, “If I own the place, I ought to be the only one that knows where the light switch is, because I turn it on in the morning and turn it off at night.” Well, he worked his butt off and provided us with a lot of really nice stuff and a great life, but the hunting kind of went away as I got older. Then, when I got to be high school age, I started doing it on my own. Me and a close friend of mine would go hunting everywhere, doing everything. I did that, and then, as I got older, I got my own kids. For a while there, my son TJ was doing the calling contest, and Hoppy was really into being outside and doing outside stuff. Then, they got a little bit older. They got to be where they were in high school and playing baseball, doing summer league and fall league and all the camps all the winter. So, for a couple of years there, I just kind of quit going. I remember the first opening day I missed wasn’t that big of a deal. Then, the next year, I missed the opening month. I was like, “Hey, okay.” Then, for about five years, I didn’t go at all. I didn’t hunt, didn’t get the boat out, didn’t do anything. It was my boys that brought me back into it. I remember I had a big surgery on one of my feet, and I worked graveyard at the time. It was about noon, and I was in bed sleeping. TJ comes in, and he says, “Hey, wake up. We’re going duck hunting.” I said, “Eh, I don’t want to go duck hunting.” He says, “Yeah, we’re going.” I said, “TJ, I don’t got a license. I don’t got my clothes. I don’t got a stamp.” He says, “No, I bought all that. I bought it all for you.”
Ramsey Russell: Really?
Kevin Booth: Yeah. “Look, I got it all for you.” He went and bought it for me.
Ramsey Russell: How old would he have been, then?
Kevin Booth: He would have been sixteen or seventeen. What it was, was he and his friend had found a field, out South of here, that had a bunch of geese and a bunch of mallards in it. He says, “Yeah, come with us.” Anyway, he had my license. He had my stamp. He bought me bullets and everything. He says, “You’re coming with us.” I said, “TJ, I can’t walk out in that field.” He’s like, “No, we got the farmer’s permission. I can drive the truck right to the ditch.” He, basically, took all my options away from me.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, you ran out of excuses at that point.
Kevin Booth: Yep. I said, “Alright, I’ll go,” and I said, “Well, what about clothes?” He had all my clothes out and everything. Had it all ready for me to go. I’m like, “Alright, take me hunting, then.” So we went out. You know me well enough to know I’m not a huge mallard fan.
Ramsey Russell: I don’t understand it, but yeah.
Kevin Booth: Anyway, that’s a whole other conversation. So he takes me out, and it was slow. It was cold. I mean, it was December. The wind was blowing, but a flock of ducks came in. We got up, and I shot a mallard duck. It was a good flock. I got up and shot three times. I looked over, and there’s my two boys just looking at me. They hadn’t even pulled up their guns. They were just watching me, smiling from ear to ear. Just happy that I was back out and happy again. It felt good.
Ramsey Russell: When I think of Kevin Booth, my buddy Kevin Booth, I think of you as the father man. I think of you and your boys as having this really big-time hunting tradition. That’s what y’all do.
Kevin Booth: Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: I’ve not met TJ, the oldest, but I know Hoppy. Very, very good hunter. Very good hunter. Very eat-up with it. Tell me more about, since that day, some of y’all’s traditions, and hunting together.
Kevin Booth: Oh, man. After that, we started hunting a little bit more. Then, as they got older, we got back into it. I got hooked up with some friends and built some boats and did a couple of different things. I got them all outfitted and rigged up. Then, as TJ got older, he got a scholarship, up in Montana, to play baseball. He moved up there, and, of course, up there the goose hunting is just out of this world. He got real big into it up there, and then his little brother followed him up there the next year and played some ball up there. I don’t know what their grades were like up there, but they couldn’t have been good. Because, every night, they’d call me, “Oh, yeah, we shot more geese down the river. Oh, we got geese out in the field. We went and did this, went and did that.” I said, “Do you guys ever study?” “Oh, yeah, we’re doing good.” “Alright, whatever.” They did that. Once they started hunting up there, they started coming down here, and we go out. Both my boys really enjoy the diversity. They like hunting different things. TJ’s favorite duck is a ringneck. Hoppy waffles back and forth, but, this year, he’s been into wood ducks. Next year, he’ll be into hooded mergansers or something. He’s like you. The next duck in the decoys is his favorite.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I found that out yesterday.
Kevin Booth: Yeah. You’ve got to get up pretty early to beat him to the draw. That’s for sure.
Ramsey Russell: We had a good time yesterday, I thought. It was gale-force wind. The weather had the birds a little messed up. I didn’t see a lot of ducks flying anywhere—high, low, East, West, North, South—but we killed a few ducks and had a good time. I had a great time. The weather left something to be desired. Boy, I’ll tell you what, the snow looks beautiful on a postcard, but when you’re sitting out in it, and it’s a mixture of rain and sleet and snow— Everything I owned was soaked to the bone. With that wind blowing, if things got wet, they got cold. But we sure had a good time, didn’t we?
Kevin Booth: Oh, yeah. You’ve got to empty the snow out of your ear, every now and then. It gets clogged up in there sideways. But, yeah, we had a good time. Hoppy was super excited to go. He was super excited to show you that boat he built and that motor he built.
Ramsey Russell: Talk about that a little bit. That’s kind of one of y’all’s things I’ve noticed as we’ve come to know each other. You’re one of those guys that builds stuff, builds everything. Last year, when I met you, you had built that long-tail motor. I said, “Oh, is that a kit?” You said, “No.” You just built everything.
Building Long-Tail Motors….and Everything Else
Kevin Booth: Yeah, we do. We build them. That story starts a long time ago, but I remember where I was. It was 1986, in July. I was with my grandfather. We went into this old store, down in Ogden, called Price Saver. It was a lot like Sam’s Club, a wholesale type club, and right in the front they had a go-kart. I told my grandfather, “Grandpa, we ought to buy one of them go-karts.” He looked at me, and he said, “Nah, son. We can just make one. We got all the tools. We can just make one at home.” The lightbulb went on. I remember I was wearing brown corduroy pants and a plaid button-up shirt, and the light bulb came on. I thought, “Oh, if there’s anything I want, all I’ve got to do is get the tools and make it myself.” The running joke, with us, is, “Why would we go buy it for $20 if we can make it for $150?”
Ramsey Russell: Sure.
Kevin Booth: But, no, in all honesty—
Ramsey Russell: I just got it.
Kevin Booth: Yeah. In all honesty, a lot of that stuff came from necessity. For example, that boat motor. If I wanted a boat motor, there’s no way I could go down to the store— Especially when we built that one. The boys were in baseball, and they don’t give that stuff away. Baseball is big-time money, and Hoppy was an All-Star hockey player. Hockey ain’t cheap. So if I wanted a boat motor, I was just going to have to build one. I found a buddy of mine, took his grain elevator apart, and he had that gas motor. I swapped him for some welding on one of his trailers, or something, and we put that boat motor together so Hoppy could have something to drive around. I ended up with that Rocket—we call it the Rocket—ended up with that boat in a trade, doing some welding for a friend on a bigger boat, so he could have a bigger boat. He gave us that one. Anyway, long story short, that’s just one of our things. Like I said, if we needed a trailer, we built it. If we needed whatever. It drives my father crazy, but, if you look over there on the wall, I can’t throw away a piece of metal longer than about six inches.
Ramsey Russell: You’ll find a good use for it.
Kevin Booth: Oh, yeah. It seems like every time I go throw them away, the very next day I need whatever I threw away. But yeah, Hoppy and I built that motor he bought this year. He got that off an old concrete saw, and we fixed the motor up. He says, “Here’s what I want it to look like. Here’s what I want it to do.” I kind of let him take the lead on that, the engineering and whatnot, this time. When they were little, I wasn’t a real patient guy. I was kind of an ornery ass. I regret that more than anything in my life, now. We talk about it all the time, my boys and I, but I wish I was a little calmer, a little easier on them, when they were a little. By the time they were five or six, I had them up here running the band saw and cutting. Unfortunately, kids make mistakes, and I wasn’t real happy about it. But we patched it up. They ended up all right. But yeah, when they were little, I didn’t do much teaching. I just did a lot of me doing it and telling them what to do. Then Hoppy and TJ both kind of picked up on that whole, “Hey, if we need something, we can make it, and Dad will help us.” We did that. Yeah, so I kind of let him take the lead. If he needed help with this or that, or, “Hey, how are we going to do this? How are we going to do that?” I helped him, but he pretty much built that all himself.
Learning to Hunt in the Great Salt Lake Marsh Complex
We just learned to hunt over there.
Ramsey Russell: What are some of your favorite hunting memories, growing up with your boys? I ask that because yesterday we were throwing decoys, and there was a little clump of cattails out there, just downwind of where we were, and you said, “You know, that’s where Hoppy killed his first cinnamon teal.”
Kevin Booth: Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: Y’all grew up hunting public. That’s where we were today. Hunting the whole area.
Kevin Booth: Yep. We’ve never had any private ground. Like I said, I hunted a lot here in the valley when I was younger, but I got the wanderlust, I guess you’d say, to go over the hill, which is only about fifty miles. We have that Great Salt Lake marsh complex over there, and it’s all public ground. We just learned to hunt over there. But yeah, with those boys, it’s hard to say any one thing, because we’ve got hundreds and hundreds of stories. Like you said, that first cinnamon teal of Hoppy’s— A friend of mine took us out, and he had been seeing canvasbacks trading this one area. He said, “Hey, I know you like cans; you want to come with us?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “You ought to bring Hoppy, though.” I said, “Okay, what’s up?” He said, “Well, the ice is back in there. It gets a little westerly, and I’m not letting your old ass out of the boat, so Hoppy’s got to help me.” I said, “Alright, no problem.” So we went out there, and he said, “Yeah, we’ve seen some cinnamon teal flying.” We’re just sitting there. We shot a couple canvasbacks, shot a couple gadwalls or whatever. A cinnamon teal just appears out of nowhere. Hoppy shoots it. It goes down and makes an immediate beeline into that tule patch I was telling you about. And he walked— Well, he jogs through the mud.
Ramsey Russell: I saw that.
TJ’s Mouth Calling
I can’t do what he does, but it sounds just like a Canada goose.
Kevin Booth: Yeah. It’s a lot faster than I walk, I can tell you that. He goes over there, and they chase that thing around. Finally, it popped out of that tule patch, and he got it. I got that picture on my phone. When TJ was little, like I said, he did goose calling with his mouth. He didn’t use a call or anything. He just called.
Ramsey Russell: I heard about that last night. I’m staying over there with my buddy Justin Bodily, and Travis came by last night. They got to talking about TJ’s mouth calling. Apparently, he’s pretty famous for that.
Kevin Booth: Yeah, Travis Doxey, he used to call with them. Anyway, he’d mouth call, so we kind of did the calling contest scene, back in those days, with him. Once he got older, I remember one hunt in particular. We were hunting down by the Bear River, and I had to go back to the truck. It was up on the plateau up above us. I was up at the truck, and I got done. I looked down there, and a flock of geese is going around the blind we had down there. I hear TJ doing this, “Honk, honk, honk, honk.” I was like, “Get them, TJ!” He got them. He pulled them right in the hole, and he shot them himself. He was all kinds of happy. That’s just one I remember.
Ramsey Russell: Was that the first time you’d seen him mouth calling? Did he just up and one day decide, because he didn’t have a calt, to start mouth calling, or what?
Kevin Booth: No. What happened is, we were in the truck one day—that’s where I used to practice my goose calling, in the truck, I don’t know if that’s too safe, or whatever—and he looks over and tells me, “Dad, that sucks.” I’m like, “What?” He’s like, “I can do better than that. Check this out.” He just starts doing the whole, “Honk, honk,” and I can’t do it. I can’t do what he does, but it sounds just like a Canada goose. Or did when he was little; I haven’t heard him do it in a while. Yeah, so he did that, and that kind of turned into the hunting thing when they got bigger. One of the things with my boys—good, bad, or otherwise, I don’t know—is that, when they were little, if they wanted to come and hunt with the big boys, they had to be big boys. I said, “If you’re going to hunt, you’re going to hunt like the big guys. None of this, ‘Hey, let TJ shoot first!’ ‘Hey, let Hoppy get out of the blind!’”
Ramsey Russell: If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay in the fort.
Kevin Booth: That’s right. When I was there, I told them, ”Look, I’m here to hunt. I’m not here to babytend. I’m here to hunt. If you want to play, you play.” Boy, I’ll tell you what, they got expert at sneaking that little Remington 870 youth model 20 gauge out of that damn blind. you know. But like I said, I don’t know if I’d do it again, if I had that option. I don’t know. But for those boys, they learned to play the game. We had some great, great mentors. They’d hunt with my friend Andy Parker and Tony Smith, of course, who we hunted with today. I think what it did for them is, there was no sense of entitlement. They didn’t just get to come. If they wanted to come, they had to put out decoys, and they had to pick up decoys. If I needed to piggyback them over to the boat or whatever, that would be fine. But, otherwise, you’re here to do it.
Ramsey Russell: Youth weekend isn’t, anywhere I’ve ever been, but a day or two. On youth weekend, let a kid be a kid. Adults aren’t shooting, but they’re not going to become good hunters in just a couple of days a season. They’ve got to go. And if they’re going to go, you’re not doing a kid any favors—I don’t think, I raised my kids the same way—taking bad shots because they’re not yet up to snuff for shouldering the mount and killing him when he’s in the zone. I feel like we were all there at one time, and we just picked up. If they’re going to chime in, they need to learn how to do it right. That’s what I think.
Kevin Booth: Absolutely.
Ramsey Russell: It’s like teaching a kid to hit a fastball, and you’re lobbing it underhanded over the plate. You’ll never hit a fastball that way.
Kevin Booth: No, no. You bring that up— I certainly threw him some fastballs. That’s probably where my shoulder’s all torn up. But yeah, I think what that gave them is they’re like, “Hey, we can do this.” Then when they started back into it themselves, like I said, I didn’t have a boat. They’d take their grandma’s garden cart down the dike, with their decoys on it, or they’d ride their bike, or they’d put them in those plastic milk crates and walk them down there. When they got back into it themselves, they knew that it was going to be work, and they knew what they could do. They just did it. I think that ethos has served them well. They’re both really hard workers. Nobody’s ever said, “Hey, your boy’s going to show up to work?” They know they’re going to show up. I think that’s one of the big problems today. Too many parents that are all, “Hey, that’s my son. You can’t do that.” Now, if my boys have a problem, they know I’ve got their back. They know that, when push comes to shove, I’ve got their back. If I don’t necessarily agree, when we get home, we’ll have a discussion. But they handle themselves.
I Love Duck Hunting in Utah?!
On any given day, you can go out with you and a friend, and our record’s thirteen species for two guys.
Ramsey Russell: I love the hunting out in Utah. It was a big surprise to me. I knew y’all had ducks, and I knew a lot of species, but I had no idea that, at times, it is what it is. How do you think the duck hunting in Utah compares to other places in the United States?
Kevin Booth: Oh, man. I told you when we were out today that I haven’t been to a whole lot of places, but I’ve been to Arkansas and Washington and Idaho.
Ramsey Russell: Alaska?
Kevin Booth: Yeah, I’ve been up to Alaska. I’ve hunted places like that. I think people in Utah don’t understand what we have here. On any given day, you can go out with you and a friend, and our record’s thirteen species for two guys. In any one day, you can kill just about anything. We’ve got all the divers. The only thing we lack big numbers of are sea ducks, but you’ve seen that, every once in a while, we get one or two of them.
Ramsey Russell: Saw a scoter, last year.
Kevin Booth: Yeah, a white-winged scoter out on the retention pond. Hoppy and TJ have both killed scoters out at the spur where we were at.
Ramsey Russell: I shot a goldeneye this morning.
Kevin Booth: Yeah, you shot a goldeneye this morning. Matter of fact, I have a Barrow’s goldeneye on my wall that we shot about four hundred yards back to the east of where we were hunting today. Had Hoppy with me and shot a Barrow’s. He was pretty proud. He knew it was a Barrow’s, not a regular. He was pretty proud of himself. But yeah, hunting out here is incredible. It’s just like anywhere else. It’s subject to pressure and weather and everything like that. The thing we have out here, that they don’t have a lot of other places, is massive amounts of public land. Massive amounts. Today, we went out to Willard, and we drove past more than a hundred spots you could hunt. At least a hundred spots you could hunt.
Best Utah Places and Species to Duck Hunt
The diversity of the species out here, and the diversity of the landscape…
Ramsey Russell: Well, we were the first to ramp, because Tony ain’t going to be late. Every time I’ve ever hunted with him, he’s the first at the boat ramp. When we came out, there was a dozen, dozen and a half, trucks at the ramp. People were out hunting, but I didn’t see but one or two boats out there this morning.
Kevin Booth: No. It’s just like anywhere; it gets busy on the weekends, and things like that. We’ve kind of exploited the spur when you’ve been around, but we’ve got that whole Salt Lake marsh complex that goes all the way from Utah County clear all the way up into Box County, out by Promontory, where you went out last year. Promontory Summit, and all that. It’s just amazing. The thing that I love is that you go out there, and you say, “Today, I’m going to hunt cinnamon teal. We don’t have a ton of them, but I’m going to target cinnamon teal today.” You can go into that habitat, into that niche, and you can hunt them. You may get them; you may not. They’re not a real prevalent bird, but, if you put your effort toward it, you can get to know the bird, learn the bird, go there. Like with Tony— Tony and I are kind of cut from the same cloth. We’re kind of big into the divers, and that’s kind of how we started hunting together. We’re both into divers. He said, “Yeah, they’re hanging out over here, but if you go to the other side of the marsh, that’s where the wigeons and the gadwalls hang out.” Out there where we were at today—just another couple hundred yards, maybe a mile to the west—we call it the pintail grass. You go out there, and it’s just nonstop pintails all day, every day. The diversity of the species out here, and the diversity of the landscape— You experienced it last year. You go out in the airboat, and you can see for miles. There isn’t anything taller than a tumbleweed, forever. Then you go today, and you’re in that shallow water of the spur we were at. Then, up here in the valley, we’ve got a marsh, Cutler Marsh. It’s a deep water marsh. When I was younger, we would hunt that Cutler Marsh every day, and we’d hunt the same spot the same way. We’d do everything the same. After a while, I think, “Man, I want to see different stuff,” and so I’d go somewhere else and learn about that and then go somewhere else. I wanted to see different species, different ducks.
The Canvasback Club
“From now on, if I go out to shoot canvasbacks, and I’m out there to hunt canvasbacks— Whenever I do it, whoever is with me, I’m going to make him a knife.”
Ramsey Russell: Why don’t you like mallards?
Kevin Booth: Well, you got all night? No, I was just kidding. It’s half-joke, half-serious. Mallards, to me? I see them everywhere.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. They are everywhere. Everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere.
Kevin Booth: Go to the city park, and there’s mallards eating Cheetos and Wonder Bread. I go down to the dump, and, right behind the hazardous waste disposal, there’s some mallards sitting in the pond. I tease the boys all the time. They’ll shoot mallards, and I say, “They’re going to taste like paint and toluene.” I give them a hard time. But I like seeing ducks—“targeting” is the word that we use—I like targeting ducks that you just don’t see much. Canvasbacks don’t hang out on the city pond. Buffleheads. I like that I have to go out into their home, on their turf, on their terms. I’m not a purist by any means. I don’t have to have them feet-down in the decoys. Eighty yards and in, with that 10 gauge, and I’ll whack at them. You said, “It ain’t skybusting if they’re dropping,” right?
Ramsey Russell: Last year, you and I and Tony went out in the dark. We were putting out Tony’s canvasbacks. He showed me, today, where we were; we were about a mile away. He said something like, “Yeah, if you shoot a limit of canvasbacks, you get a knife.” I didn’t really understand what he was talking about, but I did get a very beautiful knife from you that had a canvasback on it. What’s up with that?
Kevin Booth: Yeah. It’s my own little thing. I call it the Canvasback Club, and it’s just my thing. It would have been five or six years ago, maybe, I don’t know. I told Tony, “Tony, I don’t know why, but I just have this burning desire to shoot a canvasback—on a canvasback hunt, over canvasback decoys—with my 10 gauge.” He’s like, “With your 10 gauge?” I was like, “Yeah, I read those old Worth Mathewson books that talk about 10 gauges and bringing home the meat and all that.” A week after that, I had to have my ankle replaced. Tony is like, “Yeah, let’s get you out.” We went out on a canvasback hunt, and the first canvasback, at the end of the day, I shot with my 10 gauge. Got that bird mounted at my house and all those things. After that day, I got like, “Man, there’s something to this. The targeting and doing it on purpose and stuff.” I said, “From now on, if I go out to shoot canvasbacks, and I’m out there to hunt canvasbacks— Whenever I do it, whoever is with me, I’m going to make him a knife.” It took me a few years to get where I felt comfortable making them to give them away, but—
Ramsey Russell: Were you already making knives at that point, or did you decide, “Well, I’m going to make knives, too?”
Kevin Booth: I had toyed with the idea, at that point, and then I thought, “God, you know what? If I learn how to do that, then I can do what I want to do with this.” That was part of what spurred me on. I get these, what they call mosaic pins, from this guy in Russia. He makes them with electric discharge. EDM, they call it. It cuts them out. I emailed him and sent him a drawing. It’s a silhouette of a canvasback head, and it looks a lot like the DU logo, but it’s clearly a canvasback. What I do now is—any time I go out with anybody, and we’re hunting canvasbacks—if you get your canvasbacks, I’ll make you a knife. A Canvasback Club knife. I made that one for you. Tony’s got one. Rich Buse has one. A few guys have them. That pin— I get guys calling me all the time, saying, “Hey—”
Ramsey Russell: I was going to say, you were telling me that people call up saying they want that canvasback pin.
Kevin Booth: Yeah. “Hey, I want that canvasback pin in there.” I say, “No, I’m sorry.” The guy—Balatsky is his name—in Russia only makes them for me. I might not be, but, as far as I know, I’m the only one that’s got them. I just say, “No, you can’t buy that one. You’ve got to earn that one.” They say, “Well, I’ll take you hunting.” No. We’ve got to go canvasback hunting, and you’ve got to get some.
How Did You Start Making Custom Knives?
Ramsey Russell: How did you get into making knives? It’s not everybody that just says, “Ah, I think I might start making knives.”
Kevin Booth: Yeah. My whole adult life, I started out working in a food packaging facility. I got into the maintenance group out there, and they needed somebody that could weld and fix and fabricate on the night shift. Said, “Hey, I’m your huckleberry. I want to do that.” They taught me to weld. I learned how to run a lathe and blah, blah, blah. With that, I learned how to weld, and that fueled the fire even more. We talked, earlier, about how I learned to make my own stuff and all that, so I got doing that. Well, that translated, later on, into being a welder. I did TIG welding for a medical device manufacturer. As that career was starting to come to an end, with my health issues and things like that, I thought, “Man, I’ve got to have something to do with my hands. I’ve worked with my hands my whole life, and I’ve got to do something.” While I was still down there, a buddy of mine said, “Hey, we ought to make a knife,” because we had all the heat-treating equipment and all the metal and the machines and everything. “Yeah!” So we made one, and, God, it was awful. It was awful. It had this ugly purpleheart handle, and, God, it was terrible.
What is the Duck Zipper?
“Hey, let’s make a duck-processing knife.”
Ramsey Russell: How did you get around to the Duck Zipper?
Kevin Booth: The Duck Zipper— That was Hoppy. Hoppy’s like the duck cleaner kid. When we get the ducks home—I don’t know if he wants to or not—he’s kind of the duck cleaner. He says, “Hey, I need a knife to clean these ducks.” We started out with fillet knives, paring knives, the old Buck 110. Everybody’s got a Buck 110.
Ramsey Russell: Just tried all the different designs.
Kevin Booth: Yeah, yeah. He’s like, “I don’t like it.” Then, when I got into knife making, I’m like, “Hey, let’s make a duck-processing knife.” They’ve got bird and trout knives and little knives like that, but everything he finds—around here, especially—is designed to skin big game or help butcher big game. He and I started making this knife. About five or six iterations later, we touched on the Duck Zipper. When we finally got the one he wanted, he was like, “Man, this opens them up just like a zipper.” So we named it the “Duck Zipper.” It’s just a little, short, deep-belly knife that we designed. You just lay it on top of the mallard breast and run it back, and, by the time you’re at the point, you’re at the bottom of that mallard breast, and off it comes. That’s how we came up with that one, the Duck Zipper.
Ramsey Russell: It seems like it was as much a way to spend T-I-M-E with your kids—just like duck hunting, just like baseball—as it was anything else.
Kevin Booth: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
Ramsey Russell: How important is that to you?
Kevin Booth: You put it best when you say, “Kids spell love T-I-M-E.” Absolutely. The first time I heard you say that—I believe it was on one of Rocky’s old podcasts or something—I thought, “I believe that, but I’ve never put it in those terms.” Actually, we’ve been talking a lot about TJ and Hoppy, but I have a daughter, also. Gabby. When I started making the knives, she said, “Yeah, I’ll make the sheaths.” She started making the leather sheaths. When she started doing that, that was my way to spend a little time with her. She learned how to do it, and then she kind of taught me.
Ramsey Russell: It became kind of a whole family thing.
Kevin Booth: Yeah. She enjoyed it. She helped me. Now, she’s down at the University of Utah. She’s way smarter than me or the boys. She’s down there going to college. Anyway, she is a good kid. She’s doing her thing. If I can involve the kids, I do. That’s what I like to do.
Swapping Duck Strap Stories
“Not all who wander are lost.”
Ramsey Russell: Thank you very much for the duck strap, by the way, but I’ve got to tell this story.
Kevin Booth: Yeah, you bet.
Ramsey Russell: Last year, you gave me this beautiful Duck Zipper with the Canvasback Club on it. I love sentimental stuff like that, but I just ended up putting it in my knife collection because I don’t want to lose it.
Kevin Booth: Right.
Ramsey Russell: You know what I’m saying? I’ll take a knife I can lose. Yesterday cracked me up, though, because it’s cold. It’s windy. We’re hung up in this little, grassy, surrounded by cattails pothole, and a duck comes in. “Boom!” Hoppy shoots it. Shoveler. Char brought it in. You handed Hoppy this duck strap, broke out the duck strap, and he hung it up on his chair y’all had set up conveniently. I laid it down, and you said, “No, no, hang it up on that strap.” I said, “Alright,” and put it there on that strap. “Boom!” I shoot a duck. Another shoveler. I bring it in and lay it on the bench. “No, no, no. Hang it on that strap.” I hand it to Hoppy to hang on the strap. The whole time, I’m thinking, “I’ve hunted with this guy several times last year. What is it with the strap? We’ve got hours to go before we need to have stuff on the strap to carry out to the truck. What’s up with the strap?” Finally ten or fifteen minutes later, “Would you please read that strap? I’m about to piss myself waiting for you to look at it.” I was pretty blown away at that strap. I love sentimental stuff like that. Of course, I posted it on social media. This beautiful leather strap with a compass on it. What’s the quote say?
Kevin Booth: “Not all who wander are lost.”
Ramsey Russell: That’s right. With the compass bearings and that quote, which is Tolkien. Of course, it’s got my name on the other side. It fits me to a T, because that’s what I do. I wander. I’ve got this wanderlust. I can’t stand it. We’re talking about family here, some of the things you do with your boys and your daughter now, and I just know that I’ve got a son over in Okinawa, and he’s got this burning wanderlust. As we talk on the phone or text, he’s already talking about coming home. Home not being Mississippi, but home being Bozeman, Montana, and Colorado and Wyoming. Then I’ve got this other son, Forrest, that will jump in the truck and drive halfway across the country, do these big road trips and go turkey hunting and camp out on the side of the road with a buddy. It’s almost like the sins of the father have been transferred. They’ve got this wanderlust passion. During the COVID, I was blessed to be able to spend a long period of time at home. It was just a whole different phase. I was comfortable, but, at the same time, I just had this yearning to get the heck out, to get back on the road and see this beautiful country. You were talking about your daughter helping you come up with these leather cases. What I find so astounding about the craftsmanship of a leather knife case is that I literally took mine and hung it upside down and shook it like I’m trying to shake up a Coke can, and I can’t get it to come out of it.
Kevin Booth: Each sheath we make is custom built to the knife that goes in it. All the knives are all handmade, 100%. I don’t buy knife blanks and then put handles on them. I cut them out of a big hunk of steel and put the handles on and heat treat them myself. I do all that myself. We make the sheath to the knife, and we make it lock in. That’s one of the tests, like you said. We flip it upside down and shake it real good, and, if it falls out, we just make another sheath.
Ramsey Russell: It’s a cool concept. I occasionally get solicited—or spammed, whatever you want to call it—on Instagram by somebody, and I’ll look at their knife page, and it looks like something out of Star Wars. But this knife has got a nice sweep to it. To skin a deer— I mean, it’s a short blade, but I like the sweep on them. I know I can skin a deer as well as I can breast out those birds. That blade is heavy enough that I’ve actually punched and cut and done some stuff with it on ducks as I’m cleaning them and dressing them. Do you think you’re going to stop there, or have you got any other design ideas?
Kevin Booth: I do a little of this, a little of that. Like you, I’m not big into the fantasy stuff and the great big Persian recurves. That’s not my thing. It’s a thing now. Guys get into knife making. Knives have been around since two cavemen pissed each other off and went to stabbing, you know?
Ramsey Russell: With a pointed stick.
Favorite Hand-Crafted Knives
Hopefully, those stories will inspire me to keep getting better.
Kevin Booth: Yeah, exactly. Steel knives conquered the world. So I build a little this, a little that. We’ve got a couple designs. My personal favorite design is the bird and trout style. Real long, slender blade. Thin, compact. A lot of guys call them “fin and feather.” You hear them called different things. That’s my personal favorite. I make all kinds of stuff. I’ve got an office, at my house, where I sit down. I draw up the designs. The one thing I focused on the most was that it had to be useful. It was a tool. It’s just like a hammer. A hammer’s wood and steel. It’s got a purpose, and you use it. A lot of times, in the knife making world, you get these guys who go, “I want to use this super steel, and I want it to be able to put butter on my toast and slice through a quarter-inch of plated steel.” I have no delusions that my knives are going to replace a plasma cutter or lightsaber type stuff. I just want a good, solid tool. One of the things that’s hard for me is when I give someone a knife, or I sell someone a knife, and they’re like, “Man, I love this thing. I’m going to put it in my curio cabinet.” I’m like, “No, get that thing out. Hammer that thing through a duck breast, or cut through a rib cage of a deer with it.” What I did—and I’ve got one of these for you, at the house—is that, whenever I send out a knife, I’ve got a little letter that I give with them. It tells a little about me and what I think about knives and kind of my philosophy. Then it talks about this journal card that I do. Credit to Josh Raggio. I straight-up stole the idea. However, I did contact him. He said it was cool for me to do it. I do this journal card, and I explain, “Hey, tell me about how this knife plays a part in your life. Whether it’s hunting or fishing or in the kitchen. Tell me about a new recipe. Tell me about how Grandma came over and showed you how to cook her famous gumbo.” Well, you guys eat it; we don’t eat gumbo out here.
Ramsey Russell: I’m sorry. Bless your heart.
Kevin Booth: One day, I will. One day, I’ll eat some real gumbo. Anyway, yeah. “Tell me about the deer hunt you went on. Tell me about you and your dad cleaning your very first limit of ducks with one.” I want to hear those stories, and I want to see the pictures. When I start getting those things back, I’m going to put them up on my cabinet here in the shop. I’m going to tape them up. Hopefully, those stories will inspire me to keep getting better. One of my core beliefs about this stuff is that you don’t get to call yourself a craftsman. That’s not a title you can give yourself. That has to be given to you by people that have your work and hold your work and use your work. The greatest compliment I can have is when somebody says, “Man, you are a true craftsman.” Or an artist. That, to me, is the greatest compliment I can get.
Tools of the Duck Hunting Trade
When you pick it up, it almost feels warm in your hand, the soul and the heart of that.
Ramsey Russell: I don’t know why, but it speaks a lot to me—knives, duck calls, all of these tools of the trade that we use—to me, it takes it to another level when it’s handmade or handcrafted. Your knives are cut from the same general shape and design, but every unique handle you put on it, every hand-ground blade, every one is one of a kind. Just like Raggio’s calls. Just like all this other stuff. I’m even going to throw out— People get tired of hearing me talk about BOSS shells, but I love them because they’re not mass-manufactured in a fifty million square foot factory. You’ve got a handful of guys doing almost handcrafted mass production, the very best they can. To me, it just takes it to an entirely personal level. Decoys, too. I just appreciate that stuff for some reason.
Kevin Booth: This is just a personal belief, but when I’m shaping that, and I do this, and I hand sand it so that blade’s got that nice finish— Every time I work with that knife, a little piece of my soul goes into that. Whether it’s a knife or a decoy or shotgun shells or a gun stock or whatever, a piece of your soul goes into that. When you pick it up, it almost feels warm in your hand, the soul and the heart of that. When you go down to Walmart and grab a buck knife off the shelf, when you put it in your hand, it feels cold. There’s just something about it that’s just impersonal. We mentioned Josh Raggio, and I’ve got to give him a lot of credit. He inspired a lot of how I feel and how I do my business and things. I’ve never met the man, but we kind of bonded. I met Justin Harrison up hunting in Alaska, and so on, so forth. Anyway, handmade, one of a kind— It’s got some soul, and you’ve got the only one in the world.
Ramsey Russell: And I feel it. When I pick up those duck calls or those decoys or those knives or those things that are just one of a kind like that, I feel it. It just feels different.
Kevin Booth: Absolutely. It does. My personal belief is that it’s part of the soul. It’s like when you’re listening to music, and it touches a piece of you. You know that’s what that artist’s going for. He’s trying to get you to feel that. Like you; you’ve got the only Ramsey Russell Canvasback Club knife in existence. It’s the only one. There’s not another one. There will never be another one. They’re all the same general shape, but even these two we’ve got here; you pick them up, and I can tell you what’s different. The handle swell on this one, or the finger toils a little further, the handle dips a little further back, the wood one’s got a thumb swell on the front for pinching. They’re just all different, every one of them. When I started it, my older son, TJ, said, “Well, how come they’re not all the same?” I said, “If I ever make two that are the exact same, I’m going to quit.” Handmade things have always meant something to me. My mom has always done handwork, whether it’s cross stitching or quilting or anything like that. I’ve just always appreciated handmade, hand-grown type things.
Ramsey Russell: Well, I’ll tell you what, we’re going to give away one of your knives on a future episode. This episode here will run December 11th or 12th. We’re going to give away a knife, probably, the first week of January. We’re going to give away one of your Duck Zippers to one of our listeners and social media followers. They’re going to cherish it just like I do. It was so funny because, yesterday, you brought this pair of knives to the boat, and I posted you holding one up at one point. I just kind of announced the giveaway. This morning, I didn’t recognize you pulling up because you were in a different truck, with one of those big, store-bought express boats. I thought it was some other dude. I’m like, “Boy, knife sales must be good. You had a great 24 hours.”
Kevin Booth: Aw, no, no. My truck had to go get fixed, so my dad let me borrow his. We brought the big boat today because I knew we were going to cross that big water. But, yeah, you posting that up probably tripled my followers and quadrupled my order list.
Ramsey Russell: Well, good. I love your knife, and I appreciate you. Tell me this, how can anybody listening find you, if they want to connect to you, on social media? What are your social media accounts?
Kevin Booth: On Facebook, it’s Out Of Cache Knives. It’s spelled C-A-C-H-E.
Ramsey Russell: All one word. Out Of Cache.
Kevin Booth: Right, Out Of Cache Knives.
Ramsey Russell: Where did that name come from? You told me.
Kevin Booth: Well, back in the day of the mountain men and Jim Bridger and all that, they were all around this area. Well, Cache Valley was always the site of huge rendezvous.
Ramsey Russell: That’s nearby?
Kevin Booth: Yeah, yeah. Matter of fact, you know where we stopped at the Maverick this morning? About two miles to the east of that is the spot where they’d hold these big rendezvous. Well, what they’d do is, they’d bring their furs in, and they would cache them. Hide them, or whatever. They’d push them into the mud of the riverbank or whatever—because they’re heavy, they couldn’t haul them around—and then they’d come back. So they called them caches, fur caches. So our little valley here is named Cache Valley. One day, we were just talking, and I said, “I’m going to make a company, and the only thing we’re going to be famous for is being out of money.” I thought, “Oh, hey, what if we’re out of Cache? C-A-C-H-E?”
Ramsey Russell: Right. So the Facebook is Out Of Cache?
Kevin Booth: Out Of Cache, and then same with Instagram. OOC knives.
Ramsey Russell: OOC knives. Kevin, I appreciate you being on here. I’m looking forward to sharing a duck blind with you, again, in the morning.
Kevin Booth: Oh, you bet.
Ramsey Russell: First day, you shot a 20 gauge. Second day, you shot a 10 gauge. What are you going to shoot tomorrow?
Kevin Booth: I’ll bring my .410 tomorrow.
Ramsey Russell: Okay. Good luck with that. You’re going to be right in between me and Tony.
Kevin Booth: Fine. Between you and Tony, I shoot everything.
Ramsey Russell: Folks, y’all have been listening to Duck Season Somewhere from Utah. My buddy, Kevin Booth. Thank y’all for listening. See you next time.