It didn’t take the first hunters long to figure out a sharp stone made masticating that mastodon a lot easier. We’ve since advanced from that knapped obsidian to some truly space-age steels, including some that are formed from powdered metals and fused by lasers. Things are, pun intended, cutting edge in the world of making meat. Still, it doesn’t take a NASA scientist to take game from the field to fork. Instead, a few sharp knives and, in one case, a battery-powered saw blade, make modern hunters’ lives easier.

As part of an affordable combo pack paired with a clip-point folder, this handy fixed blade serves many purposes once a buck or bull is on the ground. The wide, sharp gut hook zips open a hide quickly without getting clogged with hair. I particularly like it for slicing seams down the inside of all four legs. The modified skinner blade has just enough belly to make peeling hide a lot easier, though it is a little big for detail work. The 7CR17 steel has a low carbon count, great for resisting stains and corrosion and good for holding an edge, though not exceptionally hard. Still, considering it’s a two-pack at a great price, The OKC Hunter is great, go-anywhere choice.


While replaceable blades are a relatively new phenomenon in the world of hunting knives, the heavy-duty scalpels that make up the edge portion of this caping knife have been used by taxidermists for 30 years or more. What Havalon did was build that blade into a capable, and more importantly, safe folder for the big-game and bird hunter. Now elk guides around the West are pulling apart bulls in record time, thanks to a razor-sharp blade that can be replaced in seconds, rather than the stop-and-sharpen that seems slow-mo in comparison. The Piranta features a trim, 4 ½-inch ABS handle with rubber inserts for a solid grip.

$55;; BUY NOW

Back at the shop that serves as my skinning shed during hunting season, I reach for my reciprocating saw surprisingly often. Mostly it gets used to cut a skull plate for horns that are going to hang on the shop wall or removing the head from a skinned and hanging critter. Though I prefer to use a knife, I do admit to getting lazy sometimes and sawing through the forelegs when I’m in a hurry. For big pigs, a sawzall is great for cutting ribs as well. Like I said, it gets used a ton and saves me the sweat of cranking on a hacksaw. Go cordless and equip it with a 12-inch demolition, bi-metal blade with five to eight teeth per inch for best cutting performance.


While this wide, 8-inch blade might seem like overkill at first, it’s the best knife I’ve found to break down bigger cuts such as roasts into steaks and chops. For perfect, evenly cut steaks, just pop the top sirloin and bottom round roasts into the freezer for 30 minutes or so to firm them up, then go at them with this knife. Check with your butcher. I’ll be he’s got several Dexter knives in his arsenal. High in carbon and alloy, the exclusive Dexsteel is virtually impervious to stains and sharpens quickly with just a swipe from a diamond hone. The handle is food-safe polypropylene and fits comfortably in the hand, something I really appreciate after several hours at the cutting table.

$35;; BUY NOW

SaniSafe_Boning Knives-600SANI-SAFE BONING KNIVES
With an animal hanging, I always have these two boning knives—a 5-inch straight blade and 6-inch curved blade—close at hand. I also throw at least one of them in my bag if I’m traveling to a hunt. They’re so invaluable I consider them a must-have for anyone who cuts their own meat. This particular pair has cut bear, antelope, deer, elk and countless game birds. Flexible with a fine tip, they both can carve steaks from the bone without leaving a scrap behind and can peel silverskin like paper. I’ve touched them up a few times, but for the most part the high-carbon steel blades stay sharp enough to go through one deer-sized animal. I really like the handles, which clean up easily and are hi-viz white so I always know where one is on the cutting table while I’m working with its mate. Perhaps their best attribute is their price. You can probably find each one for less than 20 bucks if you do some smart shopping online.

$23-25;; BUY NOW

Buck_110 Folding Hunter-600BUCK 110 FOLDING HUNTER
Sure, it’s no fun to just have one knife, but if pressed I’d reach for a Buck knife, specifically the 110 folder. Truthfully, there’s not much you can’t do with the 3 3/4-inch clip-point blade, from gutting an elk to slicing a chunk of steak from your plate. Its 420 high-carbon steel has been heat treated to reach a Rockwell hardness of 58, meaning it has a fairly durable edge that takes a hone relatively easily, but is also resistant to corrosion. Today’s models have a tough Dymondwood handle with brass bolsters that retain the 110’s classic looks. You’ll own this knife a long time, and chances are your father and his father carried one, too. It’s a workhorse and, best yet, it’s made in America by a family-owned company.

$77;; BUY NOW

No matter how good the steel, a knife’s going to go dull at some point during the field-to-fork process. Of all the ways to put an edge back on it, I like this field sharpener the best. With five stages, from heavy-grit diamond plate for reshaping nicked blades to a three-stage ceramic honing rod, it’s got everything needed to take a blade from blunt to razor-sharp in just a few strokes. There’s even a leather strop for a truly keen edge. Smartly designed guides help the knife owner get just the right bevel for the job. Like a solid, little brick in the hand, the GFS is too heavy for the go-light backcountry hunter. If that’s you, I’d suggest the $20 Retractable Honing Rod from WorkSharp.

$35;; BUY NOW


Passing a bottle among friends is a rite of passage at camp, as much as blooding the face for a first kill and cutting of shirttail in the case of a miss. This year, make a distinct impression on your campmates by sharing something good. These six bottles are something to celebrate in themselves, worthy of both an opening-day tipple or end-of-season blowout.

Fans of Old No. 7 looking for an upscale experience will find something familiar here. The special-select Tennessee whiskey has that same creamy, caramel start at the tip of the tongue, but finishes longer with more mellowing oak flavor than the original. It also lacks that back of the palate burn you might remember from tipping square-shooters of Jack back in college. Only one barrel in 100 is good enough to be called Select, so don’t ruin it with Coke. Simply enjoy a finger or two over ice … or better yet, neat.

bulleitbourbonBULLEIT BOURBON
Every man (and all good women) should have a go-to bottle of bourbon, something not too pricey, but still easy drinking. Bulleit is an excellent candidate to be that bottle. It’s a simple and straightforward bourbon—sweet, caramelly with a decent hit of vanilla and oak. But with 28 percent rye in the mash bill, it has enough spice that it doesn’t get boring. That also helps it stand up nicely to a mixer, like a good ginger ale. Priced affordably, so you can always keep a bottle in camp.

I’ll leave the serious scotch tastings for another review and, instead, focus on a good blended bottle that’s easy to drink, yet still fairly complex. The Black Grouse is the smokier sibling of Famous Grouse, a hunting-camp staple, and it gives new scotch drinkers a light introduction to what real peaty bottles can be. It’s not overpowering, however, and nicely complements the spice, oak and malt flavors familiar to anyone who’s had a good blended scotch. The finish returns to the smoke that started with the nose, and remains long after each sip.

Locally sourced ingredients—including artisan water from the Ogallala Aquifer—distilled in a homemade still are the hallmarks of this small-batch spirit. Cooper’s Chase competes with the big boys in every category except cost. A room-temperature sip reveals an uber-clean taste with only the subtlest of alcohol bite. A little spice hits first, but the finish is mostly citrus notes with a mouth feel more akin to heartier, darker liquors. With this kind of body, Cooper’s Chase stands up well in a morning Bloody Mary, but is best sipped with just a splash or two of soda and twist of lemon.

highwestdoubleryeHIGH WEST DOUBLE RYE
As the name suggest, this brown likker blends a spicy 2-year-old rye with an older rye that sports a low mashbill of just 53 percent. This creates a supremely drinkable whiskey with cinnamon, caramel and vanilla notes to compete against the heat of the younger half of the blend. A little sweet for a straight rye, mostly from the addition of corn to the mashbill, which tempers the high-test nature of a 92-proof rye. Still, an all-time campfire favorite (and speaking of fires, brave souls should try High West’s smoke-infused Campfire Whiskey).

Including a bottle going by the name of Decoy in a hunting-themed roundup might seem like a gimmick, but trust me, this might become your everyday red. From Duckhorn Vineyards (whose eponymous bottle is extravagant), this cabernet is ripe with jammy notes of raspberries and black cherries. Finishes with chocolate and spice. A medium body and tannins give each sip structure to stand up to the fat and flavor of a grilled duck breast or hearty elk steak.


Spatchcock. It sounds like a dirty word, something from the schoolyard. Say it in front of an adolescent, and I’ll guarantee you get a snicker. But there’s nothing dirty about it … unless you’re a turkey. Spatchcocking is the act of cooking a whole bird, in this case the Meleagris gallopavo, or wild turkey, split down the back and flattened on the grill. This technique ensures both the breast meat and legs cook evenly and more quickly than cooking a bird intact. While this cooking process is almost effortless, the prep does take some time as it requires you pluck the bird—no easy task on wild turkeys—and brine it for a day. But, in terms of both tastiness and presentation, it’s well worth the time and effort. 

2 gallons cold water
2 ½ cups Kosher salt
1 ½ cups brown sugar

  1. Heat one gallon of water, along with the Kosher salt and sugar, in a large pot set over high heat. Bring the water just short of the boiling point, stirring vigorously to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove the pot from the heat, add the second gallon of cold water and place the brine in the refrigerator. (For those interested, Hi Mountain makes a great pre-made poultry brine mix.)
  1. Once cold, add the plucked turkey. If you have a meat injector, you can also inject brine into the thickest parts of the turkey, including the breast and thighs. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

2 tbs. cumin
2 tbs. Hungarian paprika
2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cinnamon

  1. Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl.

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water

  1. Mix the vinegar and water together in a spray bottle.


  1. After 24 hours, remove the turkey from the brine and place on a clean counter or larger cutting board. Using heavy-duty kitchen scissors or game shears, cut down each side of the bird’s backbone so you are able to remove it completely. Flip the turkey over and pull it apart at the back, pressing it down on a firm surface until your hear the ribs crack and the bird is lying flat on the counter with the breast side up. Pat the interior and exterior of the bird dry with a paper towels.
  1. Sprinkle a generous amount of the rub all over both sides of the turkey. Use your hands to rub it into the surface well. Save a pinch or two of the rub for under the skin on the breasts and thighs. Let the turkey rest as you prepare your grill to medium-high heat.


  1. Once the grill is hot, place the turkey on the grate, breast side up. Spray generously with the mopping liquid. Grill for 30 minutes, covered. After 30 minutes, spray the turkey with mop again. Flip, spray the interior of the bird with mop and cook breast side down to brown the skin. Flip again after 15 minutes, spray with mop, cover the grill and cook until a meat thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh reads 162 degrees. Time will vary depending on the size of the bird and heat of the grill.
  1. Once the turkey has reached the desired temperature, remove it from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.