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It’s only September, and I’ve already found myself spending a lot of time bent over the tailgate of my Ford. That’s a good thing, because it means I’ve been butchering. A few years back I discovered the tailgate is just the right height for processing birds and big game alike. Just last week, I boned out a big bull elk at hunting camp after the weather got too hot to let it hang, and the past few nights I’ve been reducing those coolers full of primary cuts into smaller cuts ready for the frying pan or freezer. Here’s what always in or near my truck during hunting season:

Carnivore Cutting Board This fits perfectly on the tailgate of my F-150, leaving just enough room next to it for a meat tub. And it’s the only cutting board I’ve found that is big enough to hold an entire elk backstrap.

Knife Roll You can read about the knives I keep wrapped inside here.

Meat Tubs with Lids These are indispensable for processing meat at home. I own three 5-inch deep tubs, but will be purchasing a couple more 7-inch deep models with lids. You can pile 50-plus pounds of meat into one of these with ease.

Coolers I brought a Coleman Esky 85 and a Yeti Tundra 65 on this trip, but even all that cooler space wasn’t enough for a boned-out bull elk. I had to pick up a cheap Coleman at a local hardware shop for the front shoulders.

Trim Bucket I have a big Rubbermaid trash can dedicated for butchering scraps (sinew, bones, etc.), but a livestock mineral tub works great too.

Food Service Gloves I’m a little OCD when it comes to keeping my hands clean, so I always try to have a box of gloves nearby. I prefer the blue nitrile gloves, but latex works well, too. Avoid the cheap poly versions which are all but useless for butchering. Doubling them up will help insulate arthritic hands when handling cold meat.

Reciprocating Saw My rechargeable recip saw has two primary uses for wild-game butchering: removing the skull cap for European antler mounts and cutting shanks into pieces that will fit in my Dutch oven. I prefer a 10-inch unpainted blade with 6 to 10 teeth per inch.

Paper Towels and Kitchen Sanitizer No explanation necessary. (I hope.)