We get a few calls and emails every month where people are asking us about the efficacy of walking sticks for defense and survival. Honestly, when it comes to using hardwood for defense, we’re admittedly pretty naive. We don’t pretend to be fighters, and, truth be told, we don’t want to be. We value the Golden Rule, “Do as you would be done by” (as the Brits used to say it). So when we see a handcrafted walking stick, we think of a tool for step-by-step support, not for bonking someone on the head.
We are, however, sure that a walking stick — especially a nice stout one like a hickory — is an ideal “defense” against unfriendly animals. My wife and I live in a rural community, and we love to go for strolls through the neighborhood to watch the sun set over acres upon acres of green pasture. There’s always a danger, though, of vicious dogs (country people, for some reason, don’t like to lock their dogs up), so I always take a walking stick for protection. So far I haven’t had to use it, but my wife has indeed whacked a pit bull on the head once with a Brazos Walking Stick — the stick held up and the dog figured out who’s boss. (Now after all that, it’s time for a caveat: we don’t make walking sticks to serve as protection from animals. We make them to offer support while walking, but we’re very much aware of ancillary benefits.)
As far as a walking stick being used for survival, a good stick can most definitely be an essential tool in that regard. If by “survival,” one means warding off predators, a stick fits the bill. If by “survival,” one means a tool to help navigate tricky, unfriendly terrain, well then of course, that’s what walking sticks are designed for! The ideas are almost limitless: a support beam for a makeshift shelter, a probe, a bush-whacking tool, and even a pole to help keep your food cache out of harm’s way while you sleep. (By the way, Discovery has a useful Survival Zone are on their website, highlighting many survival tips.)
Now go forth, walk, and be happy.