Processing deer is much more challenging when you’re trying to use the wrong type of blade. You need something that’s able to slice through meat and separate it from the bones inside. Finding the right all-in-one knife will save you time and money.
To efficiently skin a deer, you generally need at least two knives. A smaller “skinning” knife and a slightly larger “breaking” knife. Each should be specifically designed for its purpose and curved at the right angle for processing the animal.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following information:
- What you should look for when you’re choosing a processing knife
- Techniques and tips to make it easier for you
- Details about my recommended knives
What Type of Knives Should You Look For?
Before you buy a new knife, you should write down a list of everything you want from it. For example, you might prefer different sizes, textures, metals, and so on. Every processing knife needs a few specific requirements to work optimally.
Here are the five things to consider when you’re buying a knife for processing deer:
- Make sure that the knife is sharp enough to glide. You shouldn’t have to use loads of force to cut through the deer. If it doesn’t glide through easily, then you could end up cutting yourself by accident. Many pros admit that dull knives lead to more self-injury than anything else.
- The knife needs to flex as you cut. If there’s not a little bit of flexing and bowing as you slice with the knife, you’ll have a much more difficult time trying to process a deer. Flexing allows you to switch angles without having to remove and reposition the knife every time you need to change your technique.
- Research different types of metal if you haven’t already. Carbon steel blades, such as the ones on the two examples above, last much longer than almost any other type of knife. They don’t overheat, nor due they dull too quickly. You can have a carbon steel blade that lasts twice as long as others.
- Consider the texture of the handle. Since you’ll be holding it every time you use the knife, it’s essential that you’re familiar with the texture, size, and everything else. Furthermore, make sure that the blade and the handle are flush so bacteria can’t grow in the cracks between them.
- Finally, get the right size for the job. If you’re not used to using a long blade, then maybe you should try one around 6.5 inches. However, longer blades up to 8 or 9 inches provide better flexing and more reach when you’re skinning and processing animals with them.
The Best Knives for Processing a Deer
If you want to get the smooth, most precise cuts every time you process a deer, then you’re in the right place. There are two excellent, top-quality knives to choose from, both of which are low-cost and easy to use for people of all experience levels. Let’s examine each of them below.
Recommended Skinning Knife
Starting at the blade, you’ll find that my recommended skinning knife from Amazon is as sharp as I could find. It’s designed to get skin off an animal’s muscle, and it’s also the perfect size for processing the rest of the meat. It’s a stainless carbon steel blade that’s sealed at the base to prevent sanitation issues.
The handle of this blade is made to hold perfectly in your hand, whether you’re right-handed or left-handed. It’s grooved and textured so you won’t lose your grip, and it also cleans off in a matter of seconds. The handle and blade are both designed to withstand high and low temperatures without taking damage.
- Sanitary seal between the blade and handle
- Designed for perfection and precision
- Textured handle for an optimal grip
- Withstands a wide range of temperatures
Recommended Breaking Knife
Sometimes, a longer blade is necessary. If you want to be able to cut a smoother cut, then try out my recommended breaking knife. The curvature of the blade on this knife allows you to glide right through the skin of a deer, but it’s also perfect for getting the most amount of meat as you can per slice.
Much like the previous knife mentioned above, this product has a sanitary seal between the blade and the handle to prevent bacterial growth. The handle is a little bit less grooved, but it has a bumpy texture to keep it from sliding out of your handle while you’re cutting. All in all, it’s a fantastic knife for the price.
- Easy to handle and use
- Curved 8-inch blade for close cuts
- An antibacterial seal between the handle and blade
- Textured handle for a better grip
As you can see, both of the knives are great for skinning and processing a deer. You might prefer one over the other, or choose both to switch it up each time.
If you haven’t used a knife to process a deer or you’re used to trying out kitchen knives, then proceed to the next section so you can know what to look for.
Proper Processing Tips with a New Knife
When you purchase a new knife to process a deer, you shouldn’t use it right away. Always watch your knives to remove chemicals that preserve them. Cutting into an animal with an unwashed brand-new knife can spoil the meat and fill it with a foul flavor. Use soap and warm water, then start cutting.
Another tip is to regularly use a whetstone so you can keep your knives sharp at all times. Try out this whetstone, it is one of the best out there, having two different surfaces for sharpening. Dull blades lead to injuries, so keep your new knives sharp.
You should also try to make sure that you’re cutting at a 25-degree angle to remove the skin evenly. Too sharp of an angle can cut and damage the meat, whereas too broad of an angle will botch the skin to make it unusable. Proper holding and angling are some of the key components to a successful processing job.
Also, don’t be afraid to apply more pressure at the base of the blade. This will cause the blade to flex, which is totally fine as long as it’s made out of durable materials (carbon steel is one of them). Pressure will give you the upper hand to remove skin, muscle, and bones in a few minutes rather than several hours.
Finally, try to use multiple knives if you can. Most processing knives are designed for one function, such as skinning or boning. If you have a specific knife for each portion, you’ll be able to preserve your knives for plenty of years to come. If you’re in a pinch, the two recommended knives will do just fine together or by themselves.
Getting a good processing knife for deer will allow you to leave the collection at home and use only one or two blades for a job well done. You can angle the knife and depend on its carbon steel blade to slice smoothly and effectively without staying bent or breaking at all. Hold the handle firmly, and you’ll have a fully processed deer in no time.
Here’s a quick recap:
- Make sure you have quality knives. If you only have the budget for one knife, get the breaking knife. It’s still going to be good for skinning, but you wouldn’t want to try using a smaller knife for more robust needs.
- Carbon steel is a top choice for blades due to its strength and longevity.
- Flexing is desired, and sharpened blades prevent self-injury.
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Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!