Hunting Knife Requirements

Once a big game animal has been downed the process of ensuring the quality of the carcass for processing begins. This requires a long entry cut through the hide, typically from the perineum up to the sternum at a minimum, and often higher through the sternum for access to the esophagus and diaphragm to more completely empty the body cavity for rapid cooling of the carcass. Additionally it is typical for the pelvic bone to be split to allow greater separation for the rear quarters for air access and therefore faster cooling.

These tasks are demanding, requiring precision to avoid penetration of internal organs and release of waste into the body cavity, while strong leverage is needed for the sternum separation. A knife must be rigid enough to safely perform strong straight-line cuts through tough materials such as the sternum while sharp and controllable enough to separate the rectum from surrounding tissues for removal of the entire intestinal tract.

The splitting of the pelvic bone is often a task for a different tool – compact saws or hatchets are are more suitable item to utilize, although batoning a knife designed for impact through the pelvis can work sufficiently although with danger of misdirected or over-done cuts can result. Typically a hunting knife will not have sufficient thickness nor specific design features to allow for batoning and therefore is not recommended for that purpose.

Additionally, for quartering an animal, or skinning once hung, the edge acuity of the knife becomes critical with large amounts of separation of hide from underlying tissues and slicing through meat and fascia required – the knife must be not only sharp, but hold it’s edge throughout the process to allow a quick finish without unnecessary delay.