Holiday Gift Guide: Eight Great Knives for a Wild Chef

Whether for hunting camp or the kitchen, sporting cooks are always on the lookout for their next favorite knife. There's just something about a good blade that demands attention, but not just any knife will do. Everyone has their personal preference when it comes to sizes, style, and even looks. So, if you're shopping for a wild chef this season or making your own Christmas list, take note of some of our personal favorites that we're hoping to find under the tree.

Every serious cook should experience Japanese steel at least once. The problem is, once you experience it, you want more. I own one Japanese santoku from knife-maker Al Mar, but am lusting after more, including this Honesuki, or boning knife. Like many Japanese kitchen knives, it flawlessly blends form and function. Made from carbon steel, it will require a bit of care, but the double-grind blade sharpens to a razor's edge. The traditional triangular shape might take some getting used to, so if that's a concern, consider the more westernized Tojiro DP Gokujo. --D.D.

On the Fourth of July, I like to ceremoniously carve the watermelon with my Bowie knife--because it makes for good showmanship, and because it's basically the only day of the year I can find a reason to use the blade. My Bowie, though, is pretty cheap and it's getting dull, so I'd like to replace it with this all-black beast of a razor from Cold Steel. --C.K.

Although definitions vary, a bushcraft knife is generally of a tougher design that can take abuse, while still maintaining some degree of dexterity for carving. If you're going to pack only one knife for camping that also has to pull cooking duties, a bushcraft knife is it. I'd really like a Dozier Bushcraft, but after reading reviews of the Mora, I'd settle for it at about one-sixth the price. The scandi grind features a wide bevel, making it easy to sharpen, and a heavy-duty spine holds up to batoning through thick wood. This knife is tough, and has a sharp carbon steel blade and durable rubber handle. My only complaint is the lack of a full tang, but for 50 bucks I think I can manage. --D.D.

There are more expensive cleavers out there, but mine is going to get some abuse. It'll hang in the Quonset with my butchering gear and see plenty of use as I bust through venison shanks and turkey bones bound for the stockpot. Besides, many an old-timer I know still carries an Old Hickory knife on his belt because they're cheap--and because they last. Admittedly, those made today aren't of the quality of those from 20 or more years ago, but even the new ones feature tough 1095 carbon steel that will quickly take an edge. --D.D.

I think I've made it clear over the years on this blog how much I love a good sandwich. And because good, crusty bread can take a sandwich to the next level, it just makes sense to have a good and dependably sharp bread knife in you kitchen. Wusthof's Classic Ikon 8-inch Bread Knife is precision-forged from high-carbon steel and has a long and super-sharp serrated blade that slices through bread without squashing the loaf.

Despite its often down-and-dirty reality, upland bird hunting still carries the aura of a gentleman's sport, thus this elegant gentleman's knife from L.L. Bean. The slim profile will make quick work of such delicate tasks as eviscerating a grouse or slicing two chunks of salami--one for you and one for your dog. A handsome wood handle and brass guard and pommel add classic accents to the 1044A stainless steel blade. --D.D.

A couple of years ago, my buddy--and F&S editor-at-large Eddie Nickens--introduced me to these knives, which he says are the absolute best for breasting ducks and geese. These knives are simply gorgeous and they hold a sharp edge and feel good in your pocket. While I already have one these knives, I would love to have another--especially this one with the beautiful trout marquetry. --C.K.

I always like to put something aspirational in my letter to Santa just in case he hasn't been paying too close of attention during the annual review of who's been naughty or nice. This year, it's custom knife from Georgia bladesmith Stephan Fowler. The 4-inch drop-point blade, which is made from 52100 steel that's both easy to sharpen and holds an edge relatively well, is the perfect size and shape for field-dressing deer, elk, and other big game. --D.D.