The majority of knives are designed to be good for cutting and sawing. The best deer hunting knife will be designed for much more specific work.
There are many different kinds of deer hunting knives. Some of them are designed for skinning, some of them are designed for gutting, and some of them incorporate features that are optimized for both kinds of work.
Whether you want one knife that can be used for a multitude of things or a set of knives each with a specific purpose is a matter of personal preference.
You just need to understand what you’re looking for before you make your final choice.
- Why Use a Special Knife?
- What is the Difference Between a Hunting Knife and a Skinning Knife?
- Should I Get a Single Knife or a Set of Knives?
- How Do You Find the Best Deer Hunting Knife for Gutting and Skinning?
- TOP 5 Best Deer Hunting Knives Reviewed 2020
- Picking Which Knife or Knife Set Will Work For You
Why Use a Special Knife?
You can technically skin and gut a deer with a regular knife, but it will be a lot harder. You might have to stop a few times to dry, sharpen, and hone the blade before you can continue.
Since the straight edge of a knife is usually designed for puncturing or sawing, it may not give you the right shape or range of motion for fine detail work.
If you’re looking to skin the deer and save the pelt, you could ruin that pelt with a regular knife.
It isn’t designed to make precision cuts in skin, so you’ll wind up with unsightly rough edges that will require a lot of trimming before you tan the hide.
The best skinning knife for deer will help you save that pelt and give you clean cuts.
The same goes for gutting a deer. You’re looking to eat that meat so the animal doesn’t go to waste. If you do a rough job of gutting it, you could be damaging perfectly good meat.
This generates more waste that you’ll need to dispose of, and ruins a meal or two. The best deer gutting knife will help you separate everything without destroying it.
What is the Difference Between a Hunting Knife and a Skinning Knife?
People commonly mistake hunting knives and skinning knives for being the same tool.
While some great hunting knives can be used for skinning, they’re a little harder to use. Hunting knives are ideal for bleeding out a deer, or using primitive hunting methods.
Skinning knives have different tips that are designed to be used to break and drag the skin.
You can slide this tip between the skin and the muscles to help separate the two in smooth, fluid motions. The knife will have a longer tapered edge that helps it slide.
Should I Get a Single Knife or a Set of Knives?
One knife that can do everything will always be a little more expensive than separate knives that are devoted to each task.
Another thing you might want to consider is the versatility of a knife set. Knives designed to do everything are larger to incorporate all of the features and cutting surfaces that you need.
A set of knives that each have specific purposes will feature smaller knives. You can use these smaller knives for things like rabbits or wild turkeys.
If you hunt more than one kind of animal, you might get more use out of a set.
How Do You Find the Best Deer Hunting Knife for Gutting and Skinning?
The best deer hunting knives are designed with extra care. There are a few core things that separate these kinds of knives from other outdoor knives.
For things like skinning and gutting, you’re looking for a whole different set of features.
Gutting and skinning are precise work. This means your knives will need to be sharpened very often, and weaker metals can’t handle that kind of sharpening.
Some knives come with a factory edge that’s good for a while until they dull out, and sharpening them can actually crack or chip the blade.
You need knives forged from the highest quality materials.
Gutting knives often have a little hook at the end to make the process easier. You need to be able to grab and pull with the end of the knife, and it’s much easier when you have this hook on the tip.
For gutting, you’ll definitely appreciate how easy this feature makes the work.
The best deer skinning knife will usually feature a higher grind. The higher the grind on the knife, the more of an edge you have to work with.
Having a long edge is perfect for making long, precise cuts.
Wiggling the knife between the skin and the muscle will allow you to get it off in clean strips, saving more meat and salvaging the underside of the pelt.
You can use a knife with a shorter grind, but it may take longer to accomplish the same task.
TOP 5 Best Deer Hunting Knives Reviewed 2020
A lot of hunters have different opinions on which is the best deer hunting knife, and these knives offer a broad sampling of the greatest tools on the market.
There’s a tool for every deer hunter – it’s all a matter of your hunting style and the tools that will allow you to do things the way you feel would work the best.
Elk Ridge Hunting Knife Set
This is a small, portable deer skinning and gutting knife set that makes it easy to get the job done.
You’re getting a 7-inch straight-edge knife with a high grind that’s perfect for skinning, and a 6 and a half-inch curved blade gut hook knife with textured handles.
These handles are designed to prevent slipping. Since gutting and skinning can be a pretty wet task, you’ll find the boost in the grip to be quite useful.
- Knives are made of 440 stainless steel. You can sharpen them and sharpen them without causing any damage to the blades, as long as you properly hone them after you pull them through a coarse sharpener.
- Both knives are full tang. You can be as rough as you need to be without worrying about snapping the base of the knives.
- Blades are covered in a black coating that will reduce the visibility of stains.
- Included carrying sheath is made of nylon rather than a durable material like leather.
Red Deer Big Game Field Dressing Kit
This is a really great kit, and it’s stocked with everything you’ll ever need. You’re getting three knives for skinning and gutting, a bone saw, and a folding gambrel made of solid steel.
The knives have bright orange handles so you won’t lose them out in the field. The grips are coated in an ergonomic rubber to help you maintain your grip, and they won’t stain like wooden handles will.
- You’re not only getting deer gutting and skinning knives – you’re getting absolutely everything you would need to completely dress a deer in the field in a value-priced bundle.
- Comes with an organized carrying case with a handle at the top, making it easy to tote around.
- Carrying case comes with a compartment for disposable gloves, as well as a small knife sharpener.
- Since this is such a large kit, it will add a little more weight to your hunting bag than a single knife with a sheath.
Outdoor Edge Razor-Blaze – Folding Camping Knife
If you’re looking for a small knife for gutting and skinning deer, this one is perfect.
When you want something you can carry around with you and use for field dressing without making a big fuss, this is right up your alley.
This knife features a rubberized handle and a 3 and a half inch blade. When it dulls out, you can simply snap on a new blade, making it great for those occasions when you don’t have time to sharpen.
- Blades can either be sharpened or replaced. If the blade you currently have on the knife is holding up well, you can sharpen it and let it hang on for a little while longer.
- Knife comes with six replacement gut hook blades. You’re basically buying six of the same knife for the price of one. It’s almost a lifetime supply.
- The handles are made of heavily textured rubberized nylon to prevent the knife from slipping out of your hand.
- Included sheath is made of nylon instead of a longer-lasting, more durable material.
Elk Ridge ER-261 Hunting Knife Set
Elk Ridge makes some of the best hunting knives on the market, and this is one of their best knife sets.
This is a portable deer dressing kit that doesn’t feature anything fancy – just three, solid reliable knives that you’ll be eager to put to good use.
You’re getting a fillet knife for skinning, a gut hook, and a small caper knife for detail work.
- Knives feature ergonomically curved handles with non-slip grips.
- Fillet knife for skinning features a very high grind. You’ll be able to cut long, continuous pieces without stopping.
- The addition of a caper knife makes this kit very versatile. Caper knives are small enough for skinning smaller mammals like squirrels or rabbits.
- Carrying pouch is made of nylon and Velcro. Since the knives are so sharp, you’ll probably need to replace the sheath after a few months.
Outdoor Edge Game Processor Butcher Kit
This kit is almost magic, and if this is the kit you choose to get, you’ll never need to buy another deer hunting tool in your entire life.
You’re getting a caper knife, a gut hook, a fillet knife, a combo bowie and butcher knife, a caw, a carbide, shears, a cutting fork, and even a sharpener.
- This kit can be used for absolutely all game. Not only deer, but even turkeys and hogs. One set of tools handles everything.
- Since this kit is so comprehensive, you can even use it to prepare and eat a meal without ever having to leave the campsite.
- Comes in a hard plastic carrying case with slots to keep all of your tools organized.
- This is a little bit expensive item, but it’s an incredible value for everything you’re getting.
Picking Which Knife or Knife Set Will Work For You
Finding the best deer hunting knife will make all of your hunting chores so much easier.
If you’ve never had specialty tools for gutting and skinning, you’ll be shocked that you’ve ever lived without them.
All that matters most is that you pick durable, reliable tools for the trade. You’ll never go hunting without them.