Knives come in all shapes and sizes — from folders to fixed blades, clip points to drop points, gut hooks and replaceable blades.

It’s interesting what does and doesn’t turn some folks’ cranks. For instance, I can admire nice rifles all day, but for me a knife is just a tool to get the job done.

Other folks seem to want every knife they see. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the qualities of a good knife, or the importance of having one when you need it. You only need to stand over one dead elk realizing you left your knife in the truck to appreciate how important it is.

We all choose our knives for different reasons. When most of us were first allowed to have one, all that mattered was that it was big. The bigger the blade, the better the knife. After carrying it around for a while and trying to clean a fish or two with a seven inch blade the light began to dawn, and we began to realize that other qualities may be important in selecting a knife.

Knives come in all shapes and sizes — from folders to fixed blades, clip points to drop points and gut hooks — and nowadays, we can even replace blades and never have to sharpen again. With so many options, how do you choose which knife is for you? Well, in my experience, the best knife is the one you have on you when you need it. I have had the joy of cleaning a deer with a 1.5-inch blade because that’s what was in my pocket. It wasn’t ideal.

For hunting I like a fixed, 3-inch drop point blade. Folders are more compact but are harder to clean. Three inches is plenty of blade to break down even the biggest animal, and the drop point is ideal for skinning. I’m not a fan of gut hooks. I can never get them to work as well as advertised, probably operator error.

I’m also not a fan of replaceable blades, honestly, because they are too sharp. I cut myself enough as it is, and I’m always a little afraid I’m gonna leave a finger behind somewhere. Also, I think throwing away all those blades is kind of a waste.

My hunting knife today is a Buck Micro. It is light, inexpensive and meets all my needs. I have tried all kinds for butchering game. Surprisingly, I have found that a filet knife works best for me. This is the one instance where a long blade is a benefit. It makes it so much easier to cut steaks out of big elk muscles. The flexible blade is also great for working around bones.

I carry a multi tool when I go fishing. One with relatively slender pliers for removing hooks, scissors for cutting line and a small blade for cleaning works well for me. I should probably carry one all the time, but they are heavy, and I’m old.

Whatever blade you choose to carry, keep it sharp. It really is true that it’s the dull blade that cuts you.

We welcome your thoughts and ideas at!

Rod Carpenter is a husband, father and hunting fool.

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