“He was the kind of guy that you were always happy to see walking towards your campfire.” – Cory Murphy
The knife world lost a good one this past weekend. Mike McCarter of House Mountain Blades might not have had an outsized impact on the community as an innovator or groundbreaking artist. He was just a great guy and solid maker. A second-generation Law Enforcement Officer, knifemaking was a side gig, a creative diversion which dovetailed with his interests in fishing, camping, and the outdoors in general. He passed away early Saturday after a long battle with cancer.
It is an unfortunate reality that we have to write obituaries for makers and other industry figures. This one hurts a bit more than average because Mike was a part of my smaller knife community, he was local to Knoxville, and he was a Beckerhead. Consequentially, I spent a great deal of time with Mike over the years, both at weekly lunches with the group Allen Elishewitz dubbed “the Knoxville Knife Syndicate”, as well as camping at Ethan Becker’s property about an hour from Knoxville. The feature photo on this post is from the 2017 Beckerhead Gathering.
Mike was also a bushcraft enthusiast, especially with regards to studying Horace Kephart and his famous knife. Mike was one of two makers whom Ethan Becker granted access to his original Kephart. Mike and Dan each made a run of “nearasdamnit” Kepharts, in a project documented in the February 2019 issue of KNIFE Magazine.
You can read the whole article by clicking the blue box below:
The Kephart Knife – February 2019
I own the McCarter knife from the article (as well as the Eastland), and spent a good bit of time this weekend handling it and thinking of Mike. Ben Franklin once said, “If you want to be remembered, write something worth reading, or live a life worth writing about”. If you consider a custom knife to be every bit as much of a personal expression as a piece of writing, then Mike accomplished both.
I don’t know a ton about Mike’s law enforcement career, but it was impossible to ignore that he had a significant impact on the department and the Knoxville community. The outpouring on social media has been enormous, with dozens of officers thanking Mike for training them to do the job right and being an example of what they aspired to. As I said, I am sure that these stories are worth retelling (or writing down), they just aren’t mine to tell. It does demonstrate that more than one community of folks is feeling his loss.
I saw on Facebook that the KPD was going to escort Mike’s casket from the UT Medical Center to the funeral home on Sunday morning. It was not far from my house and I felt the need to go. It was obvious that it was more than just a formality for the officers participating. You could tell from the hugs exchanged with Mike’s family.
I am glad that I went.
So farewell my Friend. Thank you for being a part of my life.