You got a little ahead of yourself and promised your friends and family venison hamburgers, hind roasts and sirloin steaks. Now you actually have to do the work and butcher the quarry sitting in the back of your truck. To do that, the first thing you need is a good butcher knife.
Before hunting season gets here, make sure your kitchen is stocked with the right blade. Lucky for you, we’ve done our homework and found three great models that tackle different parts of deer processing and butchering.
Table of Contents
Our Top Picks
- TUO Scimitar Butcher Knife – The long high-carbon blade lets you cut the perfect steaks from the perfect quarry.
- Victorinox Fibrox Pro Curved Boning Knife – Bone with speed and ease at a great value.
- Knine Outdoors Field Dressing Kit – Every blade and tool you need to go from field dressing to cutting steaks.
Note: Our individual reviews are below, but you can also click any of the links above to check current prices on Amazon and other retailers
What Equipment Do I Need to Butcher a Deer?
If you’re processing your deer at home yourself, the most important piece of equipment you need is a good knife, potentially even several knives. This knife should be really sharp, of course, to be able to separate bone and connective tissue from the meat.
The blade should be at least four inches long. Generally speaking, shorter blades, around six to eight inches, are better for skinning and boning the deer while actually cutting the meat itself into steaks works better with longer blades.
This is why you might consider multiple knives just for convenience. You may see them listed and categorized as boning knives and butcher knives.
Other equipment that will help you butcher your quarry include:
- Cutting board
- Knife sharpener
- Latex gloves
- Bowls or pans for sorting
- Meat processor (if you want ground meat)
- Freezer paper and tape
- Sharpie (for marking the freezer paper)
What Kind of Knife Do You Use to Butcher a Deer?
The best knife for butchering deer is, well, a butcher knife. While a shorter boning knife is good for removing the skin and separating the meat from the bone, a long butcher knife, around 12 inches, is best for actually cutting roasts and steaks.
Aside from being super sharp, there are a few other qualities you should look for in this knife:
- Slightly curved (for applying leverage when cutting)
- High-carbon steel alloy (for corrosion resistance)
- Ergonomic but stable handle
What Is a Good Field Dressing Knife?
Unlike with butchering, a good field dressing knife is usually a bit shorter because you have to make very small detailed cuts, especially when cutting around the anus to gut the animal. In many cases, field dressing knives have hooks that also aid in this process.
One big decision with field dressing knives is whether to get a fixed blade or a folding knife. Naturally, folding knives are much more compact and easier to carry with you out into the field, but they’re also harder to clean as bits of meat and blood can get caught down in the handle.
Some hunters also opt for a full field dressing kit. These include numerous knives for all the different parts of field dressing, from gutting to removing organs and opening the ribs.
Can You Use a Fish Filet to Butcher a Deer?
Actually, you can. Filet knives are great options for skinning and boning deer because they’re thin and sharp and make it easy to get into the more difficult areas. That said, filet knives aren’t as great for other parts of butchering since they can sometimes be too short or wobbly.
Latex or rubber gloves are good for a couple of reasons. First of all, they keep the process clear and hygienic. Perhaps more importantly, they help you firmly grip the knives even as they get wet with blood and juices.
Before butchering, make sure to clean both the butchering surface and the knives. You can do this by boiling the knives and cleaning them with soap. As for the cutting surface, use a 50% bleach solution or other chemical sanitizer.
Don’t Saw Through Bone
If your knife is sharp, you should be able to remove all the meat from the bones by cutting through connective tissue like tendons and cartilage. You shouldn’t ever have to cut through the bone itself. Doing so will only dull your knife.
Avoid the Brain and Spinal Cord
The brain and nervous system can have dangerous infective germs called prions. Give them a wide berth when you’re processing your deer.
Our Picks in Detail
The Best Knife for Butchering Deer: TUO Scimitar Butcher Knife
The TUO Scimitar knife is a great overall butchering knife that works great for processing your deer yourself at home. We particularly like the combination of a 14-inch blade with a curved tip. This lets you smoothly and accurately separate meat from fat and bone in all the deer cuts from the detailed cuts of the ribs to the deep cuts of the neck. Plus, it’s sharp enough to take on tendons and other cartilage.
We recommend the TUO Scimitar Butcher Knife for kitchen use specifically because it’s made with a high-carbon alloy with vacuum heat treatment that prevents corrosion and bacteria build-up. When you’re using your knife for multiple purposes and butchering several other meats as well as your deer, cleanliness and hygiene are extra important.
Plus, it’s just nice that you can use the Scimitar for so many different things. As well as butchering, use it to cut bread or slice cooked meat.
What we liked:
- Long 14-inch blade
- Curved tip
- Sharp enough for all cuts
- Vacuum-treated carbon alloy
- Ergonomic handle
What we didn’t:
- Small handle
- Long blade can wobble
The Best Knife for Boning Deer: Victorinox Fibrox Pro Curved Boning Knife
The Victorinox Fibrox is a shorter six-inch knife that’s ideal for boning your deer, or use as a fillet knife especially if you’re on a budget. We especially like the handle that’s ergonomically shaped, but more importantly, is easy to hold even when it gets slippery from blood or juices.
The Fibrox is great as a boning knife specifically because of the gradually curved blade shape that allows you to get close to the bone for clean cuts and the most meat possible. Like most good knives, Victorinox also made it with high-carbon steel that’s corrosion resistant and stays sharp, though we would still suggest regular sharpening.
What we liked:
- Low price range
- Stable, ergonomic handle
- High-carbon steel blade
What we didn’t:
- Needs regular sharpening
The Best Kit for Processing Deer: Knine Outdoors Field Dressing Kit
Field dressing is one of the best ways to get your deer ready for home processing. While many hunters field dress their quarries with a single knife, a full kit makes things that much easier, especially if you’re new to field dressing. Otherwise, a mistake could spoil a portion of your kill.
Specifically, the Knine kit features a long 12-inch boning knife as well as shorter knives for gutting, skinning and even separating the ribs. It even has a cutting board and knife sharpener. This can help you handle those organs in the field you might want to remove like the kidneys and liver without getting them dirty. And of course you can sharpen any blades just before you dress the deer to make sure you’re getting the best cuts possible.
Overall, the steel blades are sharp, though the longer blades can be a bit wobbly. The handles can seem a little flimsy as well, but we really like that they’re camo. This way, if you decide not to use the whole kit, you can take a single knife out with you without having to worry about it giving you away.
Finally, we like that you can use this kit for both field dressing and butchering at home. It has such a wide variety of knives and tools that it can see you through pretty much every part of deer processing.
What we liked:
- Full kit with variety of knives
- Cutting board and knife sharpener included
- Camo handles
What we didn’t:
- Handles not durable
- Boning knife blade can wobble