A knife is an integral part of every hunter’s gear. No single implement is more responsible for the transfer of wild meat from the field to the table. But no two blades or handles are alike, so here are a few thoughts to mull over the next time you’re selecting a blade to take into the woods.
Fixed or Folding
Fixed blade knives are stronger than their folding counterparts and tend to be easier to clean. Knives with a solid tang are sturdier than ones with a hinge in the middle, but are tougher to transport. And without all the nooks and crannies tucked inside the handle of folding knives, it only takes a quick dunk to get them clean.
Type of Steel
Stainless steel resists rust better than carbon steel but is tougher to sharpen. If a blade is going to get used frequently, carbon is probably a good choice. The more carbon content in a blade, the easier it will be to put an edge on. But if the knife will be regularly exposed to the elements, stainless is likely the right call.
Swap ‘Em Out
If sharpening isn’t your thing, consider a knife with replaceable blades. These allow you to have a scalpel-sharp knife in seconds, without the hassle of carrying a sharpening stone or a strop. Packing enough replacements means all of elk camp can process their harvest without anyone ever having to pull out a sharpening steel.
Just the Right Amount of Flex
Some hunters prefer a little bit of flex in the blade of their hunting knives, especially when tackling tasks like breasting out waterfowl or other game birds. The blade of a filet knife bends just enough to scrape all the meat off the sternum without flexing too much. Some even find filet knives useful when taking the back straps off hoofed game.