Knives & Skinning Part 1

Choosing the knife or knives to use in the field is mostly personal preference. Some might fit your hand better than others or you might prefer to use one knife for multiple tasks. Kristy Titus shares the knives she brings in the field and why they work for her, plus some knife care tips.

  • Gut Hook
    I like the gut hook because it makes for a nice clean zip opening of the skin quickly exposing the body cavity without puncturing the paunch.

  • Fixed Blade
    Fixed blade knifes are typically stronger than folding knives which is critical when I’m reaching up into the body cavity of a big elk. The last thing I want to have happen is for my knife blade snap in half and get lost inside a big game animal.

  • Folding Knives
    As mentioned above they’re typically not as strong as fixed blade knives but they are easy to carry in my pocket. There are also many folding knives on the market with quick and easily replaced blades that allow you to process an animal quickly without having to stop and sharpen your knife. These knives are also often times very light weight and ideal for extended stay pack trips or trips where you are going to process more than one animal.

  • Classic Skinners
    A skinning knife has a sweeping blade and curved tip designed to avoid puncturing the hide. Oftentimes, skinning knives have a thinner blade than other types of knifes which allows me to slightly bend them while removing the hide.

  • Saw
    I rarely use a bone saw for actually processing an animal because I dress them out from the rectum and do not actually split the pelvis. More times than not, I practice the gutless method. With that being said a saw can come in handy for other reasons like breaking that last bit of bone when detaching a head from the spinal column or simply cutting tree branches for a ground blind. I find that a small light weight hand saw suits me just fine.

Knife Care
Keeping your knives and cutting tools clean will extend their life. I hand wash them because it’s the best way to ensure that all debris has been removed. At the end of each hunt, I make sure that your knives are clean and sharp before storing them.

Skinning requires a sharp blade for precise work. Keeping your blades sharp will allow you to be more time efficient while skinning.

Options for sharpening include, sharpening stones, ceramic sticks and mechanical sharpeners. There is an art to effectively sharpening the blade of a knife with stones and sticks and I am not good at it, so I use a mechanical sharpener at home. In the field I bring along Havalon knives to ensure that I always have a sharp edge.

Remember to always use a sharp knife, dull knives cut people and put holes in hides.

In part two, I will outline measurements that need to be taken before caping and other considerations to make prior to skinning. Stay tuned…