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gut hooks? trouble trouble trouble. used a schrade uncle henry for years. still have it. do not know if it is still made. as said above, keeps an edge is most important. hair can take the edge off a blade fast. also have old kbar that WILL stay sharp. used in butchering a bunch, loved it.

rick
 

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I have a Case fixed blade w/guthook that looks nice. Haven't had a chance to use it in the field yet. In the woods, as long as it's high carbon steel and holds an edge about any decent knife will do for me. Once I have a deer back at camp I break out the Russell brand "beaver knife" (it has a rounded tip, made for skinning) and a boning knife. The Russell's aren't expensive, but hold a good edge.
I've never had to quarter a deer in the woods so That might require different tools to be carried.
 

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For elk I will use a larger fixed blade knife, but for deer, a 2 1/2" folding knife with a good edge is sufficient to field dress a deer (Unless you like to cut through the pelvis). It is light weight, easy to carry, and I ALWAYS have it with me. ALWAYS (well, except when I have a smaller folding knife in my pocket - and I have used 1 1/2" blades to field dress a deer).

As for gut hooks, I have used them with success, but I don't care for the bulk or for having something sharp on the non-business side of the knife. That is strictly my opinion and I understand why some people like them, even swear by them. They are just not my thing.

I have killed over 100 deer in my lifetime and field dressed many more than that. In my humble opinion, you don't need a big knife, but you do need a SHARP knife. The edge and holding the edge are the keys, not the size. The shape and handle should be comfortable for YOU to hold and work. If the knife gives YOU comfort, security, and peace of mind, then it is a good knife.
 

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I don't hunt anymore, but when I did, my old Buck 110 folder always served me well for many years.
I don't hunt but; I recently bought a 110 with a leather scabbard and my first thought was - this would make a good hunting without having to carry a fixed knife. Good size for serious work!!
 

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For years I used a Wyoming knife which is a gut hook. You could use the other blade to finish if you wanted to, but I also carried an early Kershaw serrated Gator folder. I normally don't care for a knife with serrations but they were very helpful cutting through the brisket. The handle of the Gator is very slip proof. They make one model made with 154cm steel which is known for holding an edge (shown). I wish I'd bought on of those. They come with a drop point which helps with opening the hide without nicking the intestines.

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These two served me well for many years. Long 6" blades are just too unwieldy for me inside a deer cavity but I did use a thin 5" blade to more easily reach up into the neck and for cutting the diaphragm loose. The extra inch isn't really necessary but I just came to like them. All you have to do is forget to bring your knives with you once and rely upon your pocket folder to realize that you can get by and get the job done with a very small knife if you have to or even if that is what you want to use like many others so far have posted.

This one is a used Case that I picked up at a trading blanket at a trad archery get together.

download (5).jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #28
I have a pre-production SOG Tomcat that is very sturdy, holds an edge forever when you finally get it sharp and has a 3.75” blade made of 440C Stainless Steel, Rc Hardness 57-58.

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Never used a knife with a gut hook - but I can see the advantage to it. I used to carry a Buck General (BIG knife) on my belt in the field. Back in camp I had a Buck 'Skinner' knife and a Pathfinder skinny blade knife. The big knife worked well for gutting and quartering and the other two were for skinning.

Here's one for you: last time up elk hunting my neighbor showed me a nifty trick. Take along a packet of those single edge razor blades. They do a dandy job removing the hide. They are cheap and when they dull just use another. When I used my knives I had a problem keeping them really sharp and was constantly sharpening them, but with those single edge blades that's not a worry.
 

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I mentioned custom Damascus and the Jimmy May was my first choice for many years. However, several years ago I wanted a bit different knife from everyone else for re-enacting and volunteering at the Boone Home so I bought this one. It's gone up in price the last 15 years!!!! I think I paid a little over $20.00.

https://www.trackofthewolf.com/Categories/PartDetail.aspx/461/1/KNIFE-ROACH-4

It always held an edge well so a few years back, for grins and giggles, I tried it on Momma's deer. I've done a couple more since with it and I've been impressed. I will probably carry it this year. If I were to lose it, it wouldn't hurt as much as losing that Jimmy May Damascus.
 

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Here's one for you: last time up elk hunting my neighbor showed me a nifty trick. Take along a packet of those single edge razor blades. They do a dandy job removing the hide. They are cheap and when they dull just use another. When I used my knives I had a problem keeping them really sharp and was constantly sharpening them, but with those single edge blades that's not a worry.
I have a friend that only carries a contractor's utility knife. When it gets dull you change the blades. He has been using that to gut and skin his deer for years. Also nifty if you need to slit their throats.
 

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The buck with the rich red handle looks good. I have a Gerber with the same handle pattern, it sits really naturally in my hand in terms of how I hold it.
 

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here are a couple of cutoms from RiC Boshardt, Lewiston Idaho, I use the small skinner some, the bigger one is just a work of art, pertified ram's horn and fantastic craftsmanship, it's never been used.

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I've skinned about 20 deer and 10 elk using my 110 folder buck knife. A couple of years ago I tried a "havalon knife". It's basically a scalpel for deer and elk. Sharp as heck and in my opinion with my clumsiness too sharp for my liking as I almost ruined the hide for a mount. But my brother has the buck knife with the gut hook pictured and it dulled pretty fast. I would personally go with the one that is rocking your boat. Here is a picture of the havalon knife. Other knives I've used and are great are the Mora Knives, and one year I used a cutco brand knife because it was given as a gift to me by my wife.
image.jpeg
 

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Whatever you get, good steel is important. The knife nerds at bladeforums.com are great sources of advice. Once you've used something like CTS-XHP or S30V, crummy steel like 420C will seem like using a steak knife from Sizzler.

Steel has come a LONG way. Steels that were considered good in 1975 seem pretty pathetic now.
 

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I don't like the gut hook feature, just to big inside the cavity and around the genital's for me.
knives I've been carrying in the field lately.
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I started using the knives with replaceable scalpel blades. I have a smaller Outdoor Edge and a Gerber Big Game. I like the Gerber the best and now all my other hunting knives I have collected and tried over the years sit in a cabinet. I dislike having to resharpen knives while breaking down an Elk or a Moose. Now I just change out the blade, easy-peasy.
 

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I have a friend that only carries a contractor's utility knife. When it gets dull you change the blades. He has been using that to gut and skin his deer for years. Also nifty if you need to slit their throats.
Plus when he gets bored he can sheetrock his tree stand.;)
 
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