When my father died five years ago, I inherited all of his tools, many of which I kept.
They included a double-bitted ax (ex-Forest Service, from the red paint on the handle) and a True Temper hatchet, perhaps 1960s vintage -- I remember the camping trip when both of them last were used.
The hatchet's leather sheath was falling apart, so I went looking for a new one. I tried in four states and, briefly, Vancouver, B.C. I found nothing good.
I tried some of the mail-order logging and forestry-supply outfits, and came away with new sheaths for the double-bitted ax and for the pulaski that came with it, but nothing for the hatchet.
Finally I found a sheath in the Campmor catalog that worked.
Somehow, in the years since I had to pass a basic axmanship test at Boy Scout camp, axes of all sizes seem to have become obsolete.
Half the ax-stuff in the forestry catalogs is aimed at the competitors in various logging derbies -- they are the only people nowadays who can stand on a spring board up off the ground and whack away with the ol' double-bit.
Before those tools arrived, I owned a chainsaw and two bucksaws, but the only ax I had was a single-bit model, and I used it only for splitting kindling.
Recreationally, I suppose axes and hatchets are relics of the "wood and canvas" era of camping.
Recently I have been studying the history of the Allied interventions in the Russian Civil War, 1918-1919, particularly the experiences of the "Polar Bears," American soldiers involved near Archangel.
These men of the 339th Infantry were mostly from Michigan. One historian describes their building of log blockhouses, etc., and casually mentioned that many were country boys and "handy with an axe."
That was then, apparently. Do we not need them anymore?