Question of the Day: What knife for what game?

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Doe. My first deer. A female deer. I hunt for meat. I hunt for the challenge. I hunt for the tradition of it.

There is a passionate discussion on the comment section of yesterday’s post on my enjoyable but futile dove hunt yesterday. If you want to answer the question, Why do I hunt? Please click here to go to the comment section of that post. I would love to hear what you have to say on that subject and to keep that conversation going.

I have a different question, specifically pertaining to knives, below the jump.

I am not a lifelong hunter. My father was an immigrant from Holland, and his family were in no way sportsmen. My cousin Mark, who happens to be a member of the Rio-bound Dutch National Wheelchair Basketball Team (shameless plug), is an avid carp-fisherman, but that is as close as it gets.

My Great-Uncle (maternal) had been a hunter in his younger days, but his passion was sled-dogs and while he was supportive, he didn’t teach me anything specifically. But it didn’t take a rocket-scientist to figure out the best place to put a stand was on the trail of deer-shit connecting his woods and pond to his neighbor’s cornfield in Geauga County, OH. This was incidentally the same pond where I taught myself to flyfish, my life’s true passion.

I suppose my initial interest in hunting came from its natural connection to fishing and other outdoor pursuits. The challenge in seeing the process through is deeply satisfying, or tremendously educational in failure.I harvested my first deer the year after college. It was with my first purchased firearm, a Thompson Center .54 calibur muzzleloader. The meat went into the first meal I ever cooked for the woman who would later become my wife – venison enchiladas.

I took up bird hunting when I moved to Idaho. While there are tremendous public-land big-game opportunities out west, but if you do not have someone to show you it is tough to teach yourself. Plus without an ATV or horse it is a massive endeavor to get an animal out. However, one of my co-workers at Hyde Drift Boats was an avid bird hunter who took me under his wing (ICWYDT). He took me out for opening day of dove, and I fell in love with the particular challenge of hitting these elusive, quick, and immensely plentiful birds.Later that evening I learned how insanely tasty they are when marinated in orange juice, wrapped in bacon, and thrown on the grill.

We hunted ducks, partridge, and grouse together as well. I bought my first dog from him, my now 12 year old chocolate lab Billie Holiday. He taught me how to train her as well. I began to head out on my own as well.


Ruffed grouse from the Cherokee National Forest.


Moving to Tennessee brought many changes, new waters to learn before I could guide and starting a family being the most monumental of the two. However, it was while working in the fishing department at the Orvis Store that I met a man who has become a great friend and introduced me to an entirely new way of bird hunting.

Al is a semi-retired Prosecuting Attorney who was one of my customers. We had fished many of the same waters in both the Eastern and Western United States, and this led to our fishing together in the Smokies. Our burgeoning friendship gained me an invite to go grouse hunting with him.

Grouse hunting in Tennessee will never be mistaken for “Gentleman’s Hunting”. It involves trudging through a foot of snow on old logging and fire roads through the Appalachian Mountains trying to flank a pointing dog (who you can’t see through the rhododendron). If you are lucky, you get a clear snap-shot without whacking your barrel on a branch or tree.

Mostly it is an armed walk in the woods. A morning spent grouse hunting seldom yields more than a couple of shots, and we are skunked as often as not. But I have loved getting to know Al on long drives to the water or woods.

All of that led up to my first Tennessee dove hunt yesterday, though I suppose you could technically add the groundhog that I shot last year. It was eating my beans and needed to go. I skinned it as part of my testing of the Will Woods Kraken.

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I still need to tan the groundhog skin in my freezer before my wife throws it out, kills me, or both.

Looking back, there have been many reasons I have hunted over the years. It started with the challenge and excitement. It provides lean, organic, non-factory farmed meat. It solved my groundhog issue. Most importantly, it has led to great friendship, fellowship, and memories.


I appreciate you all indulging me in this diversion. It has been nice to write a couple of off topic posts, and I have been enjoying the conversation that has risen from them.

Tying this back to knives, and the original reason I brought up hunting in the first place – namely my desire to procure some doves for knife testing, I want to ask those of you who are hunters:

What do you hunt and what knives do you use to process your kills?

FWIW: Prior to my testing knives for TTAK, I always used a folder for processing birds. I still think a Buck 110 is the finest implement for said task I have ever used. I have no earthly idea of what knife I used in field dressing that deer. Probably an Old Timer or Schrade of my Great-Uncle’s. I really do not remember.

What say you?



  1. jlottmc says:

    It’s been a few years since I laid anything out for processing, but I remember a few things. Things like sharp, and thin of blade, not too long, or pointy. Generally, I use a sheath knife of about 4-6″ blade length, though I have used folders as well. I have a Buck 119 special that I have used with great success. I also use more than one blade as well. A Schrade Sharpfinger model has been a perennial favorite. I also prefer the Old Timer or Schrade Cavebear model I think it is (the Schrade equivalent to the Buck 110), as I feel it balances better. That Buck 119 Special is about as large as I usually go. I do like a bit of belly and/or a clip point blade as well. I think that many times you use what you have available, and what feels good in your hand. Like all things knife and gun it is and can be highly subjective.

  2. Roger says:

    I bought a Havalon Piranta after reading a review somewhere(did a little google search and found that it was here two years ago). Haven’t used it. My buck 110 and 119 are good enough.

  3. I don’t hunt anything anymore. Regulations in my state have made it too dangerous and unproductive. When I did hunt I preferred hand made knives that I’d made or a Havalon Piranta. My knives are strong, beautiful, coture pieces with thick spines and you can drive tent pegs with them. Wonderful for splitting bone and separating skin from carcass. Havalon’s Piranta is the single best blade for taking animals tissues apart because it uses surgical scalpel blades which are designed for exactly that.

    Don’t whittle with your business knife.

  4. Spencer says:

    Nice personal hunting stories that bring back my own memories of the sport. Although I can’t claim to be a hunter, I have gone hunting with friends over the years but never was successful.

    Still, my most cherished hunting adventure, really a misadventure, occurred more than thirty years ago during a duck hunt on Sauvie Island, located on Columbia River west of Portland, Oregon. At that time I was playing hooky from work with my boss who was indeed an avid hunter. For that outing he loaned me his vintage Winchester Model 12 while he carried a Remington 870. He also let me borrow an extra pair of waders, but since he was 6′ 2″ tall and I reached an imposing 5′ 8″ that soon resulted in the calamity described below.

    What should have been an early morning filled with plump ducks falling from our 12-gauge missiles morphed into absurdity, all of it my fault. No sooner had we entered a large swamp, my over-sized waders snagged on an underwater obstacle and I did a face-plant into the liquid muck. Nevertheless, I held the Model 12 high and prevented it from a nasty dunking. In the meantime my waders filled up with greasy marsh water and duck crap, and for the next several hours I sloshed around while futilely banging away at too-high-flying ducks that no doubt were laughing at me.

    The whole exercise eventually degraded into my companion and me shooting at debris floating on the water.

    We never came close to hitting a duck, but by God it sure was a lot more fun than going to the office.

    Come to think of it, I didn’t even have a knife with me that day, but I’m sure my hunting partner did.

  5. Vlad says:

    Buck 102 Woodsman for pan fish and small game and Buck 119 Special for deer.

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Question of the Day: What knife for what game?

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