Question Of The Day: What Knives Do You Use For Wild Game Processing?

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

Fellow TTAG writer Joe Grine and I headed to the hills for some trigger therapy this weekend, and we saw this truck parked in front of our traditional apres-shooting watering hole in rural Oregon. The successful hunter had just dropped this beast with a compound bow, and was hoisting a pint with his buddies before heading to the butcher.

Whether you hunt deer, doves, ducks or pig: what will you use for game processing this season?

Image courtesy Havalon Knives

We’ve sent a replaceable-blade Havalon Piranta like this one to Tyler Kee and Nick Leghorn down in Texas. Tyler is a lifelong whitetail hunter and Nick is a trained EMT who knows his way around both knives and bloody anatomy, so they’ll be able to give us the straight scoop on whether this folding scalpel cuts it as a hunting knife.


  1. Aharon says:

    Unfortunately, the only game I know how to process is the meat I get from a butcher.

  2. Colby says:

    I have several different implements that I use for processing game.

    For field dressing, I can pretty much get the job done with any knife I happen to have on me. I have been able to easily dress and skin most game up to elk size using just a Buck 112 (favorite so far), Spyderco Delica (tip is too blunt), or Benchmade Barrage (not enough belly). If you move down to deer size game, then they can be easily disassembled with just a trapper sized knife like my Eye Brand trapper. On dove and quail I just use my thumbs and a pair of sheers.

    Now when we get the field dressed carcass back to the house and start processing it down to packaged meat, then there is a three knife Victorinox Forschner Fibrox set that I use.

    The three knives I use are a 6 inch Forschner skinner, a 6 inch Forschner boning knife, and a 10 inch Forshner Cimeter fillet knife for cutting steaks. Of course you have to have a sharpening steel on hand to keep your edges fresh as you go. And a aluminum scabbard large enough to hold all three knives and the steel hung by a light chain around my waist keeps all my tools handy where I can quickly exchange them for different cutting tasks.

    I also highly recommend a good meats cutting guide or that you take a class on butchering and meat processing if you get the opportunity. I was lucky that I had the opportunity to take Dr. Jeff Savell’s meats class when I was at Texas A&M. As part of that class we got to process swine, beef, and sheep, and the lessons I learned there have given me years of service processing my own game.

  3. 2hotel9 says:

    Most times Buck 110, just for gutting and quartering to get it to the butcher, and yes, I take the backstrap meat before Jim gets his hands on it. I’m greedy like that! For small game I often use a fillet knife when I get them home instead of the 110.

  4. jwm says:

    The old timers that taught me to hunt just used their everyday pocket knives in the field. Bucks, Schrades, Bokers, etc. None of them ever carried a fixed blade knife and I never saw any of them with a lockback either. Mostly it was 2-3 bladed folders. So that’s what I used in the field. I didn’t wear a fixed blade knife on me til I went into the military.

    1. I_Like_Pie says:

      Some of the old timers are incredible. I swear my uncle could dress a deer with the pop top from a soda can given the chance to do so.

      If you get efficient with processing…it matters less what knife you are using so long as it is sized right and sharp.

  5. jay Mc says:

    Dad and I recently switched to diamond blade from buck, big jump in price but there is no going back. They really are that much better.

  6. Jim Bullock says:

    What’s this “processing” of which you speak?

    Like Uncle Duke, I like to soften up an area before I hunt it. I’m lucky to get a trophy.

    Hey, I’m a busy guy.

    1. 2hotel9 says:

      Perhaps you could share your recipes for antler? All the years I been hunting and cooking animals I ain’t never found one.

  7. ChuckN says:

    Usually just a small folder for small game. For larger game,
    like elk or mulies, I use a Buck 119. When cutting game
    into steaks or the like I stick with Ontario’s Old Hickory
    line of butcher knives.

    1. NavyRetGold says:

      My dad gave me a full set of Ontario Old Hickory knives more years ago than I would care to admit. They still do regular duty in my kitchen, the wooden holder in easy reach of my cutting block. Sharpened with his 30+ year old Craftsman pocket stone, they do a fine job.

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Question Of The Day: What Knives Do You Use For Wild Game Processing?

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