Sure, butchering a deer with power tools is fun, but who wants to carry a Sawzall in their backpack? In fact, there are times when I’ve pared down my pack so much that even a small bone saw doesn’t make the, ahem, cut. But the one tool every hunter should have on them at all times is a knife, which can be used to take a deer (or elk, or any large mammal) from whole carcass to deboned pile of meat without the need for a saw.

One of the first things I do when breaking down an animal, whether in the field or, as you see here, hanging in my Quonset, is to remove the forelegs. Instead of wearing myself out with a hacksaw, I make a couple of simple cuts with my knife and the leg comes right off. The trick here is finding the tendon, which lies just below the kneecap. You’ll know it when you cut it because the leg will give a pop when the tendon gives. After that, just cut the skin around the joint and the foreleg comes off with a twist.