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Like any serious sport, deer hunting makes a number of demands on its adherents. The determination to trek out to the backcountry to find game, the patience for stalking or hiding in a blind, and the skill to bring it down or track a wounded prize until it can be safely taken home.
Proper hunting means proper equipment, from sturdy boots suited to heavy brush to a warm hat that will blend in with the foliage, and everything you might wear in between.
So much time and focus can be spent on just bagging one deer that novice hunters can find themselves unprepared for success. Unless you are planning to roast it then and there or abandon your deer in the woods, it is essential to carry the proper tools to dress the deer in the field to avoid spoilage before it can be properly butchered.
Although there are other tools and techniques available, the skilled hunter will often need little more than a quality knife to properly dress a deer. Most of the work in field dressing is removing the organs from the abdominal cavity, which can be done with only a few cuts to open the stomach paunch.
A hunting knife made to hold an edge through large moose and elk.
Weighs slightly more than 5 ounces
7.25 inches long
Walnut handle and brass blade
Hollow-ground edge ready right out of the box
What We Like About ABuck Knives 113 Ranger
The brass blade resists corrosion and dulling so well that it can realistically be used a full season and still hold an edge.
What We Don’t Like About ABuck Knives 113 Ranger
The included sheath is shaped somewhat awkwardly and might be hard to seat properly on your belt or backpack.
Curved for easy skinning
Good edge retention
Sheath is badly shaped
2. Knives of Alaska Alpha Wolf
This knife is among the lightest out there, without sacrificing material strength or cutting edge.
Barely 4 ounces in the sheath
Roughly 8 inches long total
Hand sharpened out of the box
Drop-point blade with convex edge
What We Like About Knives of Alaska Alpha Wolf
This knife is a breeze to carry on long hunting trips, weighing less than 5 ounces even with the sheath.
What We Don’t Like About Knives of Alaska Alpha Wolf
Hand sharpening can result in a ragged point and an uneven finish.
Convex shape is great for processing
Finger indents for grip
Thin blade slices flesh easily
Highly durable even through continual use
Hand ground blade is uneven and may lose its edge
Retention strap on sheath is ineffective
3. ESEE ES4PMBDE-BRK Model 4
A carbon-steel blade tough enough to slice through anything and still hold an edge.
9 inches long in total
Blade is 4.5 inches of carbon steel
Weighs roughly 7.5 ounces
What We Like About ESEE ES4PMBDE-BRK Model 4
MOLLE-locked sheath makes this knife a breeze to attach to several kinds of field gear.
What We Don’t Like About ESEE ES4PMBDE-BRK Model 4
This knife does not resist corrosion well and will need to be maintained more frequently than similar products.
Tough steel blade
Starting edge cuts exceptionally well
Removable Micarta handle is easy to clean
Handle is long enough for larger hands
Full tang blade
Blade coating is not effective
4. Gerber Myth Field Dress Kit
A pair of knives in a toughened casing that makes the complete field dressing solution.
One straight blade for precision cuts
Larger curved skinner with sharpened gut hook
Piggyback carrying case
Integrated carbide sharpener
What We Like About Gerber Myth Field Dress Kit
This set effectively packs three blades between two knives, allowing it to handle a far wider variety of tasks
What We Don’t Like About Product Name
The smaller knife does not sit well in the sheath and can fall out unless secured in place.
Two knives are more versatile than one
Puncture-proof carrying case
Sheath doubles as a sharpener
Smaller knife is deceptively strong
Smaller knife falls out easily if not strapped in
Belt loop is not securely attached
5. Buck Knives 393 Omni Hunter
This knife is built as solid as they come and backed by the signature Buck Forever warranty.
4-inch gut hook blade
7 inches long in total
Weighs nearly 8 ounces
Rubber grip stays comfortable even below freezing
What We Like About Buck Knives 393 Omni Hunter
Everything about this knife says resilience, from the hardened steel blade to the textured and molded grip.
What We Don’t Like About Buck Knives 393 Omni Hunter
The heavier materials that make this knife so durable also make it heavier and more awkward than most hunters would like.
Full tang blade
Grip is comfortable even when cold
Holds an edge even after multiple uses
Highly durable materials and construction
Knife can be awkward in terms of shape, size, and weight
Coloring on the handle and sheath fades or flakes quickly
These are five of the best friends you can take with you on your next hunting trip. Although they are meant for field dressing deer, many hunters will find them invaluable companions for anything from fishing to moose.
Whatever knife you decide on, one thing to remember above all else is to clean it before putting it away. Failing to properly wash and blood or animal matter off your knife can cause the blade to corrode faster and will lead to potentially toxic rot forming on the sheath and blade.