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Old August 27, 2013, 10:11 PM   #1
whiteknight81
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hate to look foolish but any one ever process a deer

I haven't killed a deer yet and wouldn't know exactly how it should go. Field dressing is from sternum to anus right. What point should I start being real careful with the knife in order not to puncture bladder or poop sack. Best way to skin a deer? I think I have an idea about butchering the meat itself but then again I could be wrong. Don't they have books about this topic?
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Old August 27, 2013, 11:26 PM   #2
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What point should I start being real careful with the knife in order not to puncture bladder or poop sack.
You should begin being careful with the knife as soon as you take it out of it's sheath.....

There as many ways to field dress a deer as there are calibers of deer rifle, I think ..... hell, I have seen goobers on youtube shoot a deer and drag the whole thing, guts and all, back to their garage to do the "field dressing"...... makes me wonder how they missed the "field" part ......


There are a bajillion youtube vids on how to do this stuff .... but field dressing is so simple:

1. Make sure the animal is dead. (I have seen a grown man thrown a considerable distance when he grabbed the antler of a "dead" mule deer. It looked painfull, and my tender young ears learned some new, very confusing collections of words that day....) Touch an eyeball ... if the animal blinks, he ain't done yet.

2. Cut the throat under the jaw. Really cut it. You want to sever the windpipe, esophagus, jugular, carotid, ALL of it. I find it is easiest to find the cervical spine and stab through, and slice/saw out away from it.

3. Flip the deer over on it's back, head uphill, if possible. Grasp the um ..... penis sheath (or udder if it's a doe) with the left hand (assuming a right handed hunter here- lefties reverse) and pull the thing to the left, tightening the skin next to it ..... slice with blade down to make a small hole through skin.... hair will dull the edge very fast, so as soon as you have a hole through to the intestines, turn the knife (and your hand) over so that you have the edge up and the point between your pointer and insult fingers, and the hilt on your upturned palm. Unzip the skin and abdominal muscles from the inside, going up the midline, leading with your fingers so you don't poke any innards, up to the sternum, and down to the rectum (butt-hole, for those oy you in Rio Linda), taking care not to cut the urethra (pee-tube).

4. Split the pelvis. There are several ways to do this (and some folks don't do it all, carefully cutting around the rectum and basicly doing a butt-ectomy) .... I slice down to the bone and then drive the knife through the pelvis with a hatchet .... some use saws .... there's even that stupid "Butt-Out" anal rape tool to rip the rectum out ..... but I feel it defeats the whole purpose, which is to take the guts out without tearing them open and spilling their oh-so-appetizing contents on your meat..... anyhoo, get the rectum out from under the pelvis ....

5. Go back up to the sternum. There will be thin wall of muscle (the diaphram) separating the guts from the chest cavity, containing (if you placed your shot right) a bloody mess that used to be heart and lungs. Cut this out ( you can make fajitas out of it- marinate in lime juice, salt, cumin and peppers of your choice) all the way around the rib cage.

6. Now the hard part: roll up you sleeves (or take the long sleeved layers off entirely- on a large deer, you are going to get bloody up to yout shoulders!) and reach up in there and grab the windpipe .... it'll be clear up in the neck. Put a kink in it (bend it 90 degr) so it won't slip, an PULL! (It will help if someone pulls the other direction on the antlers or forelegs). PULL! Rip the lungs right outa that sucker ..... keep on pulling and the guts will follow, until the anus peels right off at the base of the tail. On older deer, you may have to make a couple of minor cuts to connective tissue to pull the lungs and intestines free .....

7. Lift the front end to dump any blood in the body cavity out the back end...... drag carcass to truck, hang it and wash the inside out- blood spoils quickly. Cool the carcass ASAP (not usually a problem in November in Nebraska.......).

After you do it a few times, it takes longer to tell it than do it ......
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Old August 28, 2013, 12:12 AM   #3
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jimbob86 did an excellent job on those instructions.

Let me add that if you are going to have a shoulder mount done to your trophy, you want to skip step #2 (cutting the throat). Taxidermists will shoot you if you bring him the head with the cape cut up at the throat.

Instead, after you follow the rest of his instructions starting at steps 3-5 when you get to step 6 reach up a grab the windpipe, pull it down as far as you can with one hand and carefully cut windpipe off with the knife in the other hand. Then continue per jimbobs instructions of removing entrails.

When it comes to skinning/caping the deer. There are a few different ways. I like to hang deer from its hind legs and work towards the head. Start by taking a rear leg in hand and down at the knee, feel the bone that runs down to the hoof. There is a tendon behind that bone. Cut a slit in the hide between that shin bone and that tendon. Do this on both legs. I use a singletree so I put a hook in each of the slits and hoist the derr off the ground.
Take your knife and cut the hide around the leg just at the knees above the tarsal gland. With the belly of the deer facing you, Cut the hide down the legs towards the pelvis being careful not to slice into meat. Do the same with the front legs cutting hide around lower leg and from armpit to lower leg. Go back to where you cut around the knees at rear legs and start pulling the cape down. Undress deer all the way to the base of the head.

Take a hacksaw and cut spine at base of head removing head and cape. Cut front hooves off.

Note: again, if you are going to have a shoulder mount done, leave your taxidermist plenty of hide to work with. I like to cut the hide about half way between front rear legs.

If water is available wash deer down and let dry

If it's cold outside, I like to let the deer cool down a bit then start removing the silver skin and finish processing while hanging.

If it's warm out I'll quarter the deer as it hangs, starting with removing the front half. Then cutting down the spine of the rear half and cutting each rear leg at the knee. Cool it in the fridge and remove a section at a time to remove silver skin and process meat.

FWIW, when skinning I like to use a razor sharp very thin, flexible blade knife. One of my favs. is an old fillet knife I've used for years.

Last edited by shortwave; August 28, 2013 at 01:09 AM.
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Old August 28, 2013, 12:26 AM   #4
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^^^ good instruction. This video shows a decent job of field dressing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewCVF...e_gdata_playerput this together with jimbobs' directions and you will be a pro in a few animals.

Glad you asked before you ruined a perfectly good deer!
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Old August 28, 2013, 12:51 AM   #5
big al hunter
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Butchering has so much that it is best if you watch it a few times.
part 1http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aD43...e_gdata_player
Part 2http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5DoF...e_gdata_player
part 3http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wyVL...e_gdata_player
Part 4http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePci8...e_gdata_player
then refer back to the videos as you do your first couple animals.
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Old August 28, 2013, 08:38 AM   #6
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Thanks, shortwave!

I guess I had not thought about taxidermy considerations- I generally just take the sckullcap and antlers off .....

Skinning tips- I also hang the animal upside down by it's hocks. One of these locking pulley doo-hickey's makes this task much easier:

http://www.cabelas.com/product/Hunti...3Bcat104350680

This keeps your work on your level.

I usually get the hind legs started while the animal is on the ground ..... using my clip point hunting knife on the thin skin of the shin 3-4" below the knees- again, I can't stress enough to cut from the inside, because cutting hair will dull the knife quickly. Once you have a start, cut all the way around the shin. At this point we usually take the lower legs off where we cut the skin away with the sawzall. Don't do this too high- you need that tendon at the back of the hock to hang the thing! Unzip the skin down the inside of the upper legs to where your field dressing cut was made.

Once you have the legs started, hoist the aminal up to where it is comfortable to work with, and either use a pair of slip joint pliers, one of those skinning pliers or just cut a hole in the hide for your fingers if you don't care about the hide, and pull down as you make tiny cuts to separate the hide from the meat. Do more pling than cutting.

Always use a SHARP knife (I usually use two and a steel).

Let the knife do the work. Think "1000 small slices from the inside", not "10 whacks at it".

The only tricky part, for me, really, comes when i get toward the front legs- keeping on the hide side with all those thin little muscles on the chest and back...... remember to unzip the front legs and take the lower legs off- it'd take a whole lot of pulling to pull that hide over all that......



As for butchering: We put a separate hook and line through each hock and split ours with a sawzall lengthwise, then count back 6 ribs and separate the halves there. Voila'! Quartered deer. Hose down each quarter and take it inside to cut up.

I have seen others bone out a deer while it is still hanging ..... seems to me they left quite a bit of meat there, and had no recognizable cuts when they were done.
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Old August 28, 2013, 08:57 AM   #7
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Here are two big questions to ask yourself - How soon after killing the deer will you be breaking it down and how important are keeping the ribs?

The reason I bring that up is that here in FL, the high temperature requires breaking the deer down as quickly as possible. There is no hanging of a carass here unless you are lucky enough to have access to a meat locker. Also, most people I know don't care one thing about keeping the ribs.

That being said, if you don't care about keeping the ribs and you aren't going to hang the deer then there is no reason to gut the deer at all. The freshly killed animal is hung up on the skinning rack, skinned, then quartered/deboned right there without ever cutting open the gut sack. If you REALLY do need those tiny little tenderloins, there is a way to get to them by making an incision just big enough to reach your had thru but our deer are pretty small so many of us don't bother with them.

If a hunter is lucky and prepared he can have less than an hour between shot and meat in the ice chest.
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Old August 28, 2013, 09:08 AM   #8
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If you REALLY do need those tiny little tenderloins, there is a way to get to them by making an incision just big enough to reach your had thru but our deer are pretty small so many of us don't bother with them.
I have seen some the tiny deer back east ..... I have coolers that you could stick the whole deer in after field dressing, if you took the lower legs off ..... just stick a 5lb bag of ice in the body cavity, and dump another one over the top of him.....

When I first saw them, my brain did not even register them as "deer" .....it helped me understand why folks think a .270WIN is too much gun, or that a .223 is a fine caliber for deer ......
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Old August 28, 2013, 09:15 AM   #9
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How soon after killing the deer will you be breaking it down and how important are keeping the ribs?
How soon will I be breaking it down depends entirely on the weather ..... I have seen it be 80 degrees and windy by 2PM on opening day, and I've seen it be get all the way up to 28 and snow 16 inches......

When the days will get warm, or the nights very cold (cutting up a frozen solid carcass just sucks), I butcher them immediately.

Highs in the 40's-50's? They can hang in the shed a bit.

Ribs on a big deer hold a lot of meat - I crock pot most of mine.
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Old August 28, 2013, 09:22 AM   #10
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I highly recommend two books

Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game by John J. Mettler:
http://www.amazon.com/Basic-Butcheri...dp/0882663917/

And

A Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking Meat, Fish & Game by Wilbur F. Eastman:
http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Canning-...dp/1580174574/

I have both and learned a lot in regards to improving on tradition passed down to me. I recommend the second as well, because half the responsibility of hunting and dressing is saving, preserving, and not wasting the meat.

Also, don't skimp on your knives.
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Old August 28, 2013, 09:26 AM   #11
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Its really simple, just cut it up and discard what you don't want to eat.

If you get pieces of meat that are too small to cook, then grind them up.

The ground meat will be too lean for good hamburger, no biggie, as you grind it, throw a piece raw bacon in every now and then.
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Old August 28, 2013, 09:30 AM   #12
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We cut out and discard as much tallow as possible for our "grind" meat bucket, and add 10% beef tallow when we grind it.
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Old August 28, 2013, 09:50 AM   #13
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Books maybe: It's not an easy task to field dress. And the best way to learn is watch someone do it up close and personal. As carrying a cheat sheet isn't practical. But I suppose it can be done if need be.
As far as the cutting up part. That's done so many different ways at the butchers convenience. But once you get both technique's down you'll only improve with age. My first deer took about a 45 minuets to field dress at the direction of my father and older hunting party members as it was a humors big deal for them. Not quite so for me. My last deer maybe 10-15 minuets at the most to fully field dress it. Last year for the first time I tried the tennis ball technique of removing a deer hide with. Worked wonderful. Only way I'll do it from now on if I can. As we always have a couple ATV's or UTV's sitting around parked in the yard for the purpose during deer season.
As far as cutting up a deer. You won't need any special equipment other than a common meat saw. {Some use a hawk saw for the same purpose.} Or what I use. A reciprocating battery powder saw. Reciprocating saw works best over all the others with a course 6-8" wood tooth blade. Usually it takes me no longer than 15-20 minuets to split a deer down its back bone head to tail and 1/4 it.
My suggestion. Take your time do it right.
Buy 2 or 3 of good knives and a sharpening steel. One knife for the field and the other two for trimming and steaking. (And only used for that purpose. Not for everyday use.) I myself have been using a Wyoming knife & folding wooden handled lock blade fillet knife for years out in the field. A tip: I learn from a Native American guide. Now passing down to you. Oops one thing to keep in mind.
The Southern deer are known to have sliver skin over their meat. {just where I'm not sure} it should be removed according to many. Northern deer on the other hand concerning silver skin. It isn't that noticeable on the hams if there is any. But there is some seen in the loin area but I seldom try to remove it. As it has no ill effect on the meats taste that I know of. But again it depends where you reside that makes the difference in regards to Silver skin whether its noticeable and should be removed or not. No stew meat or grind meat for this house. I can that meat in jars. Much better solution for all.

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Old August 28, 2013, 09:52 AM   #14
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One other point: If you have a long drag you don't want to open the body cavity any more than possible. We usually leave the "Butt-ectomy" until we are somewhere more, um, sterile. Dragging a deer a long ways over the ground can really introduce a bunch of stuff in there that's tough to get out later. A quick field dress reduces the weight to make it more manageable and starts it cooling down.

Hey, Jimbob: My best friend and I are headed to Nebraska in November for some whitetail hunting. First time for me and I'm looking forward to it. We'll be hunting the Frenchman Management Unit. Any suggestions? We're going with a couple of guys who have hunted there for years and know where to go, but despite all that they are relative newbies to the hunting. They get their deer, and great bucks too, but it's always good to have some local dope.
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Old August 28, 2013, 10:13 AM   #15
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Doyle hit the nail on the head..

I also hang deer, skin it. Backstraps,quatered & deboned. Makes life much easier, 15-20 min. tops ; )
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Old August 28, 2013, 10:20 AM   #16
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Books maybe: It's not an easy task to field dress.
Nothin' is easy if you don't know how.

Quote:
And the best way to learn is watch someone do it up close and personal.
I think the best way to learn is to do it yourself, under the watchfull eye of someone who can coach you through it.

myfriend: I'll be hunting near Lebanon, NE in November.

If you have a place to hunt (nearly all the land there is private, and much of it its now leased), you should not have much trouble getting a deer.
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Old August 28, 2013, 10:40 AM   #17
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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By the way. Skin the animal as quick as you can. The longer it sit's/hung the tougher it's hide becomes to remove. As it's hide holds the body heat in and is a major cause of a tasty deer becoming a strong gamey tasting deer if left intact for a couple /few days. Even if you spread it's body cavity open to air with a stick or stomach spreader.. The hide will taint its meat or spoil it in warm temperatures. No doubt about it.

If you want a chest mount for the wall and don't know how to cape a deer. Simply field dress it. Do not open its neck to remove its esophagus or split its rib cage. Simply cut your deer in half right behind its last rib with its head & hide still intact and take the entire front half. Legs and all to your taxidermist as soon as possible. Let the taxidermist take care of its capping. He'd appreciate your not making a mess that he may have to find away to stitch-up or some other form of correction to cover up your mistake/s. Expect to loose the meat in that front half you brought to your Taxidermist.

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Old August 28, 2013, 10:43 AM   #18
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I'll tell you a funny story...
Last year I had one of my neighbor's son and his friend out hunting for a hog at my place. Few hours later I heard a gun shot so I figured they had shot one. About 2 hour goes by and they didn't come by so I went looking for them at the cleaning station. When I get there I see my neighbor's son working on the hog with a knife while his friend was holding the cellular phone as a youtube video of hog cleaning was running. They were learning to clean the hog by watching the youtube video on the spot. It wasn't the best job I've seen but they got it done.
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Old August 28, 2013, 10:48 AM   #19
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They were learning to clean the hog by watching the youtube video on the spot.
That's a fine idea .... IF you have cell phone coverage where you hunt.

One of the nice things about the Valley I hunt in is that Verizon, AT&T, etc don't think it worthwhile to put a tower there ...... I am beyond reach and truly on Vacation when I go there!
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Old August 28, 2013, 10:54 AM   #20
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jimbob86,

We have good coverage at my place by multiple carriers.
We use cellular phones extensively for communication while hunting... usually text. Each hunter text out to everyone their location, when they are on the move, where they are going, etc. It's a big safety tool out here as it allows me to keep an eye on everyone.
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Old August 28, 2013, 11:06 AM   #21
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Careful with the texting-

In Nebraska, it is unlawful to.......


Quote:
-use two-way radios, cell phones or any other electronic devices to transmit information about the location of any game animal or game bird to or from a conveyance of any type (vehicles, aircraft, boats, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, etc.).
you would be fine fine keeping tabs on the hunters' locations .....
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Old August 28, 2013, 11:29 AM   #22
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Lot of good advice so far, I'm not going to repeat.
Just a couple thoughts though:
Your deer is always killed near last light of the day. Use remaining light to gut and eliminate weight. Drag away from the blood pool and slit throat from inside and yank out windpipe. That is #1 spot for spoilage to begin.
Drag out of woods and get home to hang in a cool spot.
As for actual butchering, even though I have done several have to admit I still cannot get perfect roasts, steaks, etc. from my cuts. Have ample work room and do the best you can. I cut into meal size quantities and put in zip lock freezer bags and freeze as soon as possible.
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Old August 28, 2013, 11:49 AM   #23
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I was watching the vid that bigalhunter linked to ..... that is a tiny deer.

In the vid, he opened up the rib cage with a heavy knife .... that would be much harder to do on a mature deer. I feel it also would collect more junk on the drag out if the chest was open all the way up ..... but a deer that small could just be thrown over your shoulders, anyhow .....
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Old August 28, 2013, 01:52 PM   #24
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I like a sharp 4" knife for field dressing. I also like the small curvy 2" skinner blade, that includes a smaller gut hook blade. Always cut with the knife edge pointed away from your body...never cut with the blade edge pointed towards your body. The most dangerous cut: is reaching up into the chest cavity and cutting the wind pipe. Take your time on this cut --- may I suggest wearing a pair of Kevlar gloves.

Try to have the deer's head uphill. Preferably...tie the spread hind legs to two small tree's. I cut the belly hide first, then use a gut hook to gut. If you don't have a gut hook blade, cut the skin from sternum to just above the crotch --- with the knife blade between two fingers so you can deflect the guts from being cut. You don't want to skin around the inner leg area, because you'll expose the inner thighs that will tend to dry up later. Tie a string around his wanker --- then cut around it --- tie a string around the urethra below the bladder. Cut around the anus, then tie a string around it.

Cut around the diaphragm...lay the beast on his side, grab the wind pipe, and pull the innards out.

Due to the possibility of CWD {chronic wasting disease} do not saw down the center of the spine, or touch the spinal column, nor touch any brain tissue --- if you do --- wash the knife with soapy water and bleach. You do not have to cut or hatchet out the center pelvic or aitch bone at the crotch. I let the deer hang by his rear legs --- slit the hide off the inner legs with a knife --- attach "skin grabber" pliers and pull off with your hands; or tie rope the skin to an automobile or truck and skin it that way.

I prefer to de-bone all my deer --- and possibly save the ribs. Cut-off all the wild tasting fat, and any tough skin membrane...if you can.

You definitely don't want to throw the deer over your shoulders, and carry it out of the woods that way --- because somebody might start taking potshots at it.
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Old August 28, 2013, 03:20 PM   #25
madmo44mag
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A lot of good info being shared here.
One thing I can't stress enough and I am sure everyone would agree - GOOD SHARPE KNIVES.
Do not be cheap on your knives.
I like a 4 inch and a 6 inch boning knife.
A good heavy "Buck" style knife for the heavy work.
A 8 in bone saw is also handy but I have used a sharp hatchet many times when a saw was not handy.
There again - SHARP!!!!!
You will ruin more meat with a cheap sorry knife than if you used a chainsaw.
The metal has to be good quality or they will dull quickly.
Tendon, bone and sinew dull a cheap knife real fast.
Also good steel sharpens much easier than cheap metal.
One last thing and again I'm sure everyone will agree; I'd rather cut myself with a sharp knife vs a dull one.
Let me add this: once you have skinned a couple you may change knife styles/ type to suite your way of skinning and butchering.
But a good knife never goers to waste.
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