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Looking to purchase a knife for gutting deer and bear. I see everything from a 2" folding knife to a huge 8" blade marketed as a "hunting knife" but want real world experience and recommendations I don't mind spending the money for a good one if it will last. Also, is a gut hook a good thing to have or just another marketing gimmick?

PS: This is a little off topic, but I thought I saw a thread on what is in peoples hunting pack, I couldn't find it when looking but could somebody post a link if they know where it is?
 

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I have used a 3 inch knife and a 6 inch fillet knife for years to gut deer. You really do not need a big knife. Use fillet knife for cutting or reaming butt hole and razor sharp blade to cut stomach linings, one at a time. Reach up into cavity and cut throat from inside at neck as high as you can reach, pull from top and all innards just come right out. there is some minor trimming on the linings but The whole stomach pulls right out. 10 minute job tops. I personally don't like gut hooks, Use a sharp 3 inch with your finger as guide. Hope this helps.
 

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I have never gutted a bear but on deer I have used a Schrade Littlefinger for 30 years or so :
Schrade 152OT Sharpfinger & 156OT Little Finger
It is ez to keep sharp, durable, strong and when I put my hands in the cavity to cut the windpipe I don't worry about cutting myself as I used to with a bigger knife. I have butchered a whole deer with this knife and deboned the meat. If you skin the deer while it is warm the skin needs very little cutting and with one guy holding deer and another pulling the skin comes off like a glove.

Downside is the only place to get these is ebay because schrade went out of business. I have 2 new ones but they have my grandsons names on them.
 

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I went on a "wild" boar hunt last spring with my dad. Our guide used one of these Piranta Edge Skinning Knife - Havalon Knives. It was insanely sharp, and he gutted the pigs in no time flat.

I personally have this one Gator - Clip Point, Fine Edge and love it. The rubber handle is great when it gets messy.
Love my Havalon Piranta........

Not a great choice for beginners IMO. You have to be careful with side pressure, any heal over will break blades. But for skilled users, every guide I know has them now. I've done pigs and deer with mine, I'll never use a "standard" knife again.
 

· The artist formerly known as jhm8071
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Gerber® Moment Cleaning Kit Knives : Cabela's
A two knife combo like this would last a long time and get the job done. I like using a knife with a gut hook to field dress.
Unfortunately, Gerber's quality went downhill after moving their operations to China. They still make alright knives, but they aren't like they used to be.

I've never had a knife with a gut hook, but don't see the need for it either. A 3" or 4" knife will do everything you need it to do. Do you prefer fixed blade or a folding knife?

I'd recommend a Buck knife. They've been making great knives for over 100 years. Don't be afraid to spend the money for a good one. They have a good warranty, but I've never had to use it. I'll check out what model I use for hunting when I get home.
 

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I personally recommend the Gerber Gator Knife (Pictured below). My dad has been using it for many years and he recently purchased one for me. I love the knife and it replaced my old knife because it is a dream to use.

I used to use a Schrade X-Timer with the gut hook, but I found the gut-hook impractical for most occasions. Also, the handle does not clean up well after gutting a deer. In the picture below, you might be able to spot some pieces of deer fat still stuck in the ribs of the handle.... even after using a brush + soap to clean it with.

By the way, this Gerber Gator Knife is still made in USA (Portland, Oregon) last I checked. My dad purchased mine @ Wal-Mart.

 

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I'd recommend a Buck knife. They've been making great knives for over 100 years. Don't be afraid to spend the money for a good one. They have a good warranty, but I've never had to use it. I'll check out what model I use for hunting when I get home.
Be careful with Buck now. A lot of their knives are being made in China. I ordered one on-line and was very disappointed to find I bought a Chinese knife. Sent them a snail mail letter to gripe and got the usual "have to keep costs down" song and dance. Their catalog now has information on where their knife is made on each model so at least you know before you buy if you are getting a US or Chinese model. Just a heads up. Buck USA is still a fine knife IMO.
 

· The artist formerly known as jhm8071
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Be careful with Buck now. A lot of their knives are being made in China. I ordered one on-line and was very disappointed to find I bought a Chinese knife. Sent them a snail mail letter to gripe and got the usual "have to keep costs down" song and dance. Their catalog now has information on where their knife is made on each model so at least you know before you buy if you are getting a US or Chinese model. Just a heads up. Buck USA is still a fine knife IMO.
That is a shame. I thought they were all made in Idaho. I did a quick search and found this Where are Buck Knives Made - CHINA or USA | Lazer Designs Blog

I'd probably stay away from the Chinese made ones, but that's just being cautious. I've never had a problem with the ones I have, which were all USA made.
 

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Late 2011 Buck stated returning to made in USA for more products.

There's a couple of press releases around about the move to return to USA from Chinese plants, at one point depending who's numbers used, it was almost half of production.
 

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You don't need anything special to do a good job. I have many expensive knives, but my old Schrade is the one I always went back to. You can tell by looking at it that this knife was used plenty. When field dressing in my hunting days I had others who always asked to borrow it and didn't use their fancy blades. You can find many old knives at gun shows for reasonable prices that make those crappy Chinese knives really look bad. I've even seen a few for sale over the years like mine.
 

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For gutting I use my Buck 119. They are a strong and durable knife, plenty sharp and they last a long time. My Dad still has his which he got for Boy Scouts in the early 60's. It is a little long maybe, but you just have to be careful around the organs. I've never really had a problem with the length. But the reason I like it is that I can cut right up through the rib cage of a deer with practically no effort. I just find this easier than shoving two hands up inside with a little knife and then cutting and pulling everything out. The 119 just unzips the whole deer and you can even cut through the pelvis, although I usually don't do that anymore.

I also have a gerber folder that I used to use but something about the blade geometry just doesn't cut like the 119. I keep my knives sharp, and the gerber "feels" very sharp but it loses the edge fast and for some reason it never just slices like the 119 does even when sharp. I still use this knife often for carrying but its actual performance is inferior in every way to the buck. I had a buck 110 folder for a while that I liked but a friend broke the tip off in a tree.

I use the 119 for a lot of the skinning as well. It has a long edge so it works for long pull strokes. My friend uses disposable scalpels for his skinning and he gets it done and probably does it neater than I do but I still think the buck is faster, and it doesn't require frequent sharpening or replacement of the blade (like some of the scalpels).

The last thing I use the buck for is quartering. Again, its size, sharpness are a plus for getting into the hip joints.

After the deer is quartered I switch to fillet knives to bone out and cut steaks etc. I have 3 fillet knives (one is a buck, and suprise suprise, it is the sharpest and retains its edge longest as well). They do dull up quicker especially when working around the bones so I sharpen them all up and then rotate them out as they get dull.

Anyway that is my long winded recommendation. I know there are other alternatives to the buck, but for its price (~$40 @ walmart w/ nylon sheath, ~$50 anywhere else with leather sheath) the Buck 119 is a great knife that will last literally forever and provide very good performance.
 

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Carry a compact sharpener in your field bag. Goes good w/any knife.
 

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I started carrying one of those utility folding razor blade knives in my pack for the initial cut through the fur. That cut alone will dull the hell out of almost any blade. Fur is the enemy of a sharp blade. After that is done, I use my 4 1/2" Buck fixed blade (1970's), it's a slim knife but it does a good job on the breastbone and ribs, and good for cutting around the bunghole.

The only advice that I think will add value to the discussion is that any knife with a smooth wooden handle, bone handle - smooth finish being the issue - is slippery in the hand when you are up to your elbows in the deer. If I were going to get a new knife, I would consider a handle with grip.. And I really like using the utility knife on the external cuts. Really saves your blade sharpness and you only need to switch up twice in the process (chest and anus).
 

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I use Buck Omni-Hunter 10 Point Drop Point Fixed Blade Knife Heavy-duty hunting knife with contoured handle, finger groove, grip ridges, and a lanyard hole. Handle is full tang with rubberized thermoplastic. Blade is made of 420HC steel. Heavy-duty nylon sheath included. Color: Realtree APG™. Blade length: 3-1/4''. Overall length: 7-3/4". I first got a 12 point but it was way to big
 
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