Modern technology and design has allowed the construction of strong, lightweight knives, that a hunter can easily carry in the field, do not get in the way while he makes his way through the woods and provide sufficient blade length to skin, gut and do most of the initial work on a deer. The above photo features three folding and three fixed-blade knives. All but one have points, which are popular for most such knives but tend to poke through hides if too acute. A unique knife is the Camillus Lever Lock “prison” knife which was issued to guards to cut down inmates who tried to hang themselves. The shape of this blade is similar to secondary gutting blades used in European folding hunters. I prefer the more rounded drop-point blades than the very sharp- pointed clip blade on the Puma folder in the left-center of the photo.
The folding knife beneath the Puma is Buck’s Ergohunter which has a thicker, stronger blade for working around joints. The hollow-ground blades used on the Ka-bar Piggy Back (bottom center) cut easier than the saber-ground blades used on the OD Hartsook neck skeletal neck knife above it. when both were sharpened to a similar edge. As in all blade designs, there are trade-offs between the two styles. The saber-ground blades have more metal and resist snapping and edge chipping, while the hollow grind proves what everyone knows, that thin things, even paper, will cut. Different blade grinds have different end-use attributes. The more metal in the blade the more abuse it will accept.
All of the knives except for the Marble’s fixed blade in the upper left of the photo and the Leatherman Hunter milti-tool at the bottom have blades between 3.5 and 4-inches long. The Schrade Sharp Finger in the upper right is once again available. This made for a strong, but light, fixed-blade knife. Milti-bladed knives in this photo include a Victorinox West German army issued knife with a saw blade with a detachable guard (the saw really works) and a cork screw, a twin-bladed Buck Crosslock with cutting and saw blades and a gut hook, a Case XX Changer with interchangeable blades, a Remington folder with cutting and saw blades and at the top right a Remington folding Waterfowler. All of these will process deer, although the multi-tool has the shortest (2-inch) blade and would be the most awkward to use.
These two Schrade knives along with the Buck Folding Hunter and numerous similar lock-back knives made by other companies, represent the upper end of this class of knives. In some European countries lock-backed knives are considered “weapons,” rather than tools and may not be sold. In Washington state, proposed legislation would have restricted the general carry knife (pocket knives without needing a concealed carry permit) to blade lengths of 3.5 inches. The first offense is a misdemeanor, but the second is a felony with mandatory 2-year jail time in many states. If you do not now, pay attention to your knife laws in the states or countries where you hunt.
The open carry of sheath knives is not generally a problem, it is when these might be covered by other garments or concealed, like a neck or boot knife, where difficulties might arise with different local and state laws. If there is any doubt about how you might carry a knife or where, a concealed weapon carry permit from your home state is relatively inexpensive insurance.
For efficient meat cutting longer blades are helpful and considerably speed up the process. A discussion of these knives will be in a later post. I also have discussions on knives in my books “Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound” and in my forthcoming book, “X-Treme Muzzleloading.” Go to my website www.hoveysmith.com for details and also to previous blogs such as “Tiny Knives for Deer Processing..” I will also have a future radio show on knives at “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures.”