Knife 101

In Gear 101by RMEFLeave a Comment

I spent one fall semester slinging carcasses at a meat processor in Bozeman, Montana. After a couple of 10-hour days with a cheap, dull knife, I found a long-forgotten high-quality blade tucked behind some boots on the shelf. Devoting a lunch-hour to honing its edge, I gave it new life, and it made my tasks infinitely easier. Every night, I hid that knife in the same spot. The right knife will make gutting and cutting your elk an enjoyable effort, and there is certainly no limit to the knife options out there today. We hope the following guide can help you find your perfect edge.

The Hunter

This is the knife on your belt. It’s small enough not to be cumbersome, but big enough to open up an elk while your buddy fetches the packboards.


A good camp hatchet is invaluable. Use it to split work or an elk’s pelvis, chop and limb a ridge pole, then flip it over to pound tent stakes.


All-around camp utility knife. Great for digging cat holes and hand-to-hand combat.

Fillet Knife

Use this to work between ribs, trim neck meat and any hard-to-reach places. Sharpens easily.


As the name suggests, the rounded shape makes hide (and stomach) puncture less likely while you dress and skin.


This small knife is great for carefully trimming the hide from your trophy elk skull.

Rockwell Scale

Knives are judged on a hardness scale based on indentation hardness of a material. Examples of the Rockwell scale for these knives:
56-62 – Kitchen Knife
48-58 – Hatchet
55-59 – Hunting Knife