View Full Version : What kind of knife set will I need to hunt?

April 10, 2008, 02:34 PM
I am brand new to hunting, and I want to buy a knife set that will allow me to do everything I need when it comes to field dressing. I want to get all the type of knives I will need for birds and large and small game. I plan to hunt rabbit, deer, turkey, and lots of other birds. Also squirrel, and other small game. Any suggestions on brands and types of knives that are 'must haves'?

April 10, 2008, 02:51 PM
I have found an original "Wyoming Knife" to be indispensable


for anything smaller than deer, a good sharp single blade lockback. I personally use a Buck Squire.

April 10, 2008, 02:58 PM
This is all you need. Look at Outdoor Edge Game Processer Kit.

W. C. Quantrill
April 10, 2008, 03:07 PM
Well, first of all forget about brands. What you need is quality. Quality is defined by the type of steel used in the blade, the heat treat, the resulting Rockwell hardness of the blade, and then more to the personal note, the blade shape.
The old standby steel by which all others are judged 440-C stainless. It is a high carbon, high chromium alloy steel that started the custom knife business. Other good quality steels following along this line are 154 CM and ATS-34. These are the same steel, one an American steel and the other a Japanese steel. Lately makers have swung to AUS-4, AUS-6, AND AUS-8. These are steels used by the "Brand name" knife makers, fairly good steels but suited to easy and fast machine manufacturing methods.

Probably the most copied and most carried knife going is the Loveless drop point. I was down in Riverside a couple years ago and stopped and visited with Bob Loveless, and he said that now all his knives are going to collectors and are bringing around $2000 each. So, if you arent able to swing that for a 3-1/2" bladed knife, then you will need to settle on a copy.

A good using knife does not need to be over 4" long blade. It should also have a drop point, or it will snag and cut the paunch and guts while butchering, ruining the meat. The resulting trade off on the blade is the hardness which helps determine the ability of the blade to stay sharp. The harder it is, the longer it stays sharp, also, the more difficult it is to resharpen. A blade stamped R-56 will sharpen easier than a R-60, but the R-60 stays sharper longer. This is the range of hardness you need to select for.

This brings you to 1. a brand name knife, or 2. a custom made knife. The custom makers get $300-500 for the same knife design that they franchise out to the brand knife maker who sells it for $50-$75. The difference is that the brand name seller has the knives made in China by machine and slave labor.

Good brands are Benchmade, Lone Wolf, Columbia River Knife and Tool, Case, Fallkniven, and Buck for hunting knives. Benchmade and Lone Wolf is excellent quality but expensive for what you get. Fallkniven is an import but top shelf. Case is the old standby, and I find Buck to be my last choice, an old line brand but using clip points, and being tempered very very hard. I have seen Buck knives break by being dropped on concrete. That leaves Columbia River or CRKT which is in my book the best bang for the buck. Their designs are excellent, especially the Russ Komer designs, their steel is excellent, and they stand behind their products unquestionably. They keep their prices down by using Chinese manufacture to their specifications.

Study what is out there. Study the steel qualities. Make a selection based 1. on blade shape, and 2. on steel quality, then find the brand that gives that to you for the best price.

April 10, 2008, 03:13 PM
I use a folding Bucklite knife or my Helle Odel fixed blade knife for the chores of gutting and skinning. I find a Wyoming saw a great item to have as well for cutting through bone. I use just a regular old fillet knife $8 from Wal-Mart for most of my meat processing needs. A good knife is very important but learning how to keep one sharp is probably more important.

April 10, 2008, 03:21 PM
I carry a Buck 110 daily and I buy all my kitchen cutlery at yard sales. Folks will buy a set of junk knives and sell the old carbon steel stuff for a buck or less each. Since my wife thinks sharp knives are dangerous, she calls all the good knives His and never notices when they are outdoors for butcherin' duty. I will buy most any american made knife and if it won't take or hold a good edge I let it go...

April 10, 2008, 07:13 PM
Buck makes affordable, quaility hunting knives. You don't need any thing fancier or more expensive but beware, you'll be tempted. :rolleyes:

April 10, 2008, 07:35 PM
W.C., my CRKT M60 SOTFB says it's made in Taiwan.

April 10, 2008, 08:02 PM
This (http://www.agrussell.com/knives/by_type/folding/locking/a_g_russell_featherliteclip_point_blade_with_aus8_steel.html) is what I use.;) (It is B in the picture.)

April 11, 2008, 04:15 AM
any folding knife with a blade of 3-4 inches in length with a good lock back design will work fine as long as its sharp....

April 11, 2008, 05:53 AM
A good knife is very important but learning how to keep one sharp is probably more important Oh boy, is that true........

Colt Delta Elite
April 11, 2008, 07:42 AM
Buck 110.

Art Eatman
April 11, 2008, 09:11 AM
Me'n' predator 86. I've gutted many a deer and skinned them out, with a 4" folding Solingen pocketknife. Tap the back of the blade with a rock to split the pelvis bone. And, truth be told, most of the butchering, too.

Main thing is "sharp", with steel that will hold an edge. Most any decent carbon steel and a medium fine stone will let you disassemble most any critter.

April 11, 2008, 12:52 PM
Only thing I hate about folders is getting the gunk out of them after using them.

Anyone have any tricks for this?

April 11, 2008, 03:45 PM
I've never had any trouble taking deer apart with a Buck 110 folder or a Case "yellow handle" folding trapper. It doesnt take a giant knife to do it, just a good, sharp one.

April 11, 2008, 03:56 PM
Just stay away from the big Bowie knives:D yea, they look cool and I have seen many people that are ill informed take one to the field to TRY to clean a deer. I say try because it is much too big and unwieldy and they usually butcher the job. Stick with the above mentioned suggestions, a 3-4" blade is all you really need, folder or fixed blade, stick with a "big name" knife company (buck, case, etc...) and you should be fine. Also as others have said, learn how to keep it sharp.

Art Eatman
April 11, 2008, 05:13 PM
"Only thing I hate about folders is getting the gunk out of them after using them."

Scalding hot water and a toothpick.

April 11, 2008, 06:16 PM
Tap the back of the blade with a rock to split the pelvis bone.:eek: A smallish chunk of firewood works just as good with less chance of scratching the blade.

April 11, 2008, 06:28 PM
Art, similar to what I do - just seems there would be a better way. I am wondering if peroxide might work...guess I'll just have to try it.

April 11, 2008, 07:02 PM
You could always get one of those folders with interchangeable blades. Remove the blade when you clean it and probably get a tooth brush down in there.

April 11, 2008, 07:13 PM
For small game, I use a Juno, by Buck or 110 or Sod Buster. For bigger work, I use a Puma White Hunter or small hand ax. However, I do not split the pelvis on deer till I'm back to camp or home and after I skin.

Be Safe

April 11, 2008, 08:41 PM
Scalding hot water and a toothpick.Dish soap and somebody else's toothbrush. :D

April 11, 2008, 09:17 PM
I always carry a leatherman tool at work, and in the field. The last new tool I bought has a guthook, and a bone saw on it. Bone saw works perfect for cutting through the brisket on deer, and the guthook is awesome. I own countless knives, but the leatherman is the only one I carry every day. You do not need a huge knife to field dress deer. What you need is a SHARP knife!
Case, buck, gerber, puma, all make good blades with good steel, it is just like guns, you can do the same thing with a ruger, that you can with a weatherby.

W. C. Quantrill
April 11, 2008, 09:24 PM

Yes all the CRKT knives are made in Taiwan. I know Rod Bremer personally, and have been to their plant in Portland as well as Benchmade and Lone Wolf. I used to write for a couple knife magazines in a previous life. Rod spends quite a bit of time in China overseeing the Quality Control on his knives, and making sure that the heat treats are proper.

My every day carry is a CRKT Carson M21-14. It isnt designed the way I'd like for a hunting knife but it opens faster than a switchblade and it is a good all around general knife. Sometimes I carry a large Benchmade AFO auto. It is handy for a one handed knife, but captures the attention of the fish and game nazis.

I have handled most of the knives of the name brands, and for the money spent there isnt a better deal out there than the CRKT knives.

The most versatile, and comfortable knife in the hunting camp is the CRKT Bwana, a large folder by Russ Kommer. It has the drop point, it is an open frame design and all the crap goes on thru and drops out. It has proper sweep to skin and enough straight edge to slice. It is a high carbon 420J stainless and will do a complete butchering job with little touchup.


Several have asked about getting the gunk out of a folder. That is simple. Dont buy a closed back folder. I love the Case Sod Buster, but it is closed back and traps stuff in it. The Buck 110 is probably the design that got the folder craze going, but it is closed, and it has that nasty clip point. The new knives are open designs. There is no spring along the spine, it is open. Stuff doesnt collect in there. When ya get home, rinse it out and you are good to go.

Another feature I like about the CRKT knives, especially the Kommer designs are the hollow ground blades. The hollow grind does not drag in the meat like a flat grind. Did I mention that I do not see a clip point knife having any practical use in a hunting camp as far as field dressing is concerned? A clip point is a sharp up turned point. Its only function is to poke holes in guts and fill your body cavity with digested -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED-, and ruin your meat. Select a good main knife and a back up and you dont need a knife system.

Sharpeners are one thing not mentioned here. In this arena there are two sharpeners, the CRKT and the Lansky that are worth mentioning. They will form up your cutting edge at the proper angle and hone it smoothe enough to hold it. They are also light. Weight is a main factor on all that you do in and around the hunting camp.

April 12, 2008, 03:55 AM
Only thing I hate about folders is getting the gunk out of them after using them.An old tooth brush helps a lot.

Art Eatman
April 12, 2008, 06:50 AM
Bits and pieces: The quality of a knife's steel oughta let you field dress the deer and get it at least halfway skinned before you notice any degradation of the edge. Ever notice how fast cutting paper takes the edge off a knife? Deer hair is much the same. Javelina is worse. Get the blade under the skin and cut from the inside out, as much as possible. Don't saw through the hair if you can avoid that.

Anyhow, a semi-fine stone for a touch-up oughta let you get the job done.

The Lansky sharpener is a Good Thing, particularly when setting up the angles on blades. I use 30 degrees for a field knife. 20 degrees for fine work.

Ever watch a butcher use a steel on his carving knife? That backing-and-forthing rounds the edge area, which is fine for a while, but the angle gets bigger. You wind up eventurally with a sharp wedge, not a sharp knife. Periodically I go back to the Lansky to re-shape.

My personal opinion is that a lotta folks worry too much about knives. One guy I know, quite often doesn't bother. He hunts where there is a lot of chert. Kill a buck, pop a couple of rocks together--and he has a flint knife. Works good. Sorta awesome to watch. Helps to know what you're doing, of course, but after fifty years...

April 12, 2008, 07:35 AM
The gunk in my Buck 110 is no problem. I just wrap a thin/thread bare dish towel on the end of a butter knife and wash it with soapy suds. Once home I give 'er a dunkin' in a bleach and water solution than rinse in hot water one more time. The only food poisoning issues I ever had were from eating restaurant food!:barf::rolleyes:

April 12, 2008, 01:54 PM
Only thing I hate about folders is getting the gunk out of them after using them. Scalding hot water and a toothpick.An old tooth brush helps a lot.Do you have to floss your knives when you're done, too?

I used to use 2-bladed folding hunters or SodBusters, but no stainless steel blades. My main knife has always been a 4" fixed blade made from spring steel. You can get almost the same thing by getting a mid-sized caping knife or any small fixed blade knife. Grohmann makes real knives designed and used by professionals, and they use good steel. Queen Cutlery knives are outstanding. If you can find one of the carbon steel Old Timers, they are pretty good.

Ever watch a butcher use a steel on his carving knife? That backing-and-forthing rounds the edge area,Actually, it straightens the edge and work hardens it. And yes, it will have to be resharpened, but a lot less than you would think. Butchers, meat cutters, and slaughterhouse workers keep their knives razor sharp with a steel, and they work all day long with the same blade.

April 12, 2008, 02:30 PM
Here is an Old Timer that I bought from Shorty the Jew about 40 years ago for $12. I have skinned a bunch of deer with it. I am as bad as anybody about getting carried away with their toys, just pointing out that you don't really have to.

April 12, 2008, 03:45 PM
You will need a good allaround knife that is both sharp and havy, and even to hunt with, if it comes to that...
this is a Native-Norwegian knife.
It is specialy developed for the Norwegian Costal Rangers and it is also used for CQ self-defence.
It is perfect for meat...







April 12, 2008, 05:39 PM
Straight from Cabelas' website although the pic didn't come through. This kit is pretty much the bee's knees. A friend of mine has it and I plan to buy one. Has a standard fixed knife, caping knife, and compact saw in one well made scabbard. I don't think you would be unhappy.Look it up!

Outdoor Edge Kodi Skinner and Kodi-Pak
The complete system for field dressing, skinning, caping and quartering of big game animals. These precision knives includes a deep-bellied skinning knife with a 4-1/2" blade and gut hook, a caping knife with a 2-1/2" blade and a 6" T-handle diamond-cut saw. Each has non-slip KratonĀ® handles and shaving-sharp chrome-moly 8A stainless steel blades for excellent edge retention and performance. All fit into a full-grain leather belt sheath. The Kodi Skinner and Kodi Caper also are available separately.

April 12, 2008, 07:03 PM
I carried a Western or Case clip point, 5 1/2" hump back until I saved enough money to get what I wanted. I modified one of Bo's early designs and he made me this in the early 60s. I've been told it was the last custom he made by himself. Dunno about that, but I've used this one for everything since then and love it.


Four inch blade, swept belly, straight back edge, radiused (sharpened) point, hump back, left-handed. I've done everything from Crappie to PolarBear with it.


April 18, 2008, 12:24 PM
Check out the knives at A.G.Russell - he has a lot of info on blade steel, etc...440 will hold an OK edge, but is much easier to resharpen than a long-edge holding steel like A2 or D2 or ATS34 - so there is a tradeoff to consider....make sure you get a good sharpener to resharpen it in the field - get one that won't mess up the blade angle.

I have many folders, use a small lockback pocket for fine trimming, but prefer an old US-made Schrade fixed blade about 3-3-1/2" long - easier to clean

April 18, 2008, 02:01 PM
Only thing I hate about folders is getting the gunk out of them after using them.

Anyone have any tricks for this?

Yep. Use a fixed blade knife. :)

April 18, 2008, 02:56 PM
I doesn't have to cost a fortune. I have made several knives as gifts, out of sawblades and files. My skinning knife is home-made. My Daughter's knife and hatchet are home-made (4-H project). My own hunting knife was found in a drawer at my grandparents house- I used it to scrape paint ther as a kid. It is hard to sharpen, but holds an edge really well. I'm sure it has been used to gut more deer than I have ever seen.

What do you NEED? IMHO, all you really need is a straight bladed knife with a sturdy enough blade to be driven through the seam in the pelvic bone (Note: this seam fuses on older bucks, and a hatchet becomes a nice thing to have..... ) of a deer. It has to hold an edge long enough to field dress the deer. Stopping to sharpen your blade when you are up to your elbows in blood in freezing temps is not a good thing! That said, it shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes to field dress a deer...The blade does not need to be longer than 4 inches. Big "Bowie" knives are awkward to use inside the body cavity.

Other than your hunting knife, a hatchet is nice to have, as is a skinning knife, if you plan on skinning your own deer. A good butcher/boning knife and steel is necessary if you plan on doing your own processing, as is a large hacksaw (I use a fine toothed blade on my Sawsall, as Power Tools Rule!).

April 19, 2008, 09:58 AM
I'm gonna go against the norm(don't I always)and say I prefer a plain old carbon steel blade. Dulls faster but sharpens back up in a jiffy. I can usually go through a whole deer before it needs sharpening again.