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Why the Havalon is the Best Knife for Skinning and Quartering Big Game

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November 09, 2012
Why the Havalon is the Best Knife for Skinning and Quartering Big Game - 7

Over the years I’ve gone through enough knives to outfit a steakhouse, but most of them have been just another knife. That all changed the first time I used a Havalon. My buddy Steve let me use his to cape my Dall sheep, and I couldn’t believe how fast I was able to get it done. I was sold on it right then and there as a caping knife, but Havalon knives are much more than that.

If you’re not familiar with them, Havalon knives are simple folding knives that use replaceable over-sized surgical scalpel blades (I use the pocket knife version). Their primary advantage is that they are extremely sharp. You really have to be careful with them, as you could give yourself a very serious cut before you even realize it. The blades don’t hold an edge as well as some knives, but in a few seconds you can switch to a new one, and replacement blades are pretty inexpensive. The knives are very lightweight, weighing less than your average pocket knife, which makes them ideal for backpack hunting.

Not only are Havalons great for skinning, but they can accomplish pretty much every other field dressing task for which you would need a knife. I’ve noticed that the blades can break pretty easily if you twist and torque them, but with a little practice, you can clean, skin, and quarter game even quicker than with a regular knife. This year I used my Havalon pretty much exclusively, and was able to skin three brown bears, a grizzly, and a black bear; cape and butcher my Dall sheep and mountain goat; and I used it to clean my entire moose (with the exception of splitting the brisket with a hatchet).

If you haven’t tried them already, I highly recommend them. For 35 bucks or so, you can make your drawer full of hunting knives all but obsolete.

Comments (7)

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from tylerfreel85 wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

thanks for the question tharings, for sheep or goats, I'll usually go through a couple blades in the main process, then a third for caping. Depending on conditions, it can take quite a few..especially for bears. My brown bear was on a beach & the sand dulled the blades fairly quickly. I usually carry a dozen extra blades just in case..they fit in the knife's carry case very easily and are pretty cheap and very light.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tharings wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

Hey Tyler,
How many replacement blades do you use on a dall sheep, grizzly, and mountain goat each separately?
I am trying to figure out how many I have to carry with me on a long backpack hunt for each different species. I want to keep the weight a low as possible.
What do you keep your blades stored in on a hunt?
Cheers,
Trevor

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tylerfreel85 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

thanks pineywoods, i can sharpen just fine, and the havalon is still my all around favorite. Even the best knives will lose an edge over the course of cleaning a moose or skinning a brown bear...and I've tried a lot of them. They are much more difficult to get an edge on halfway through skinning a moose in the dark when you're dog tired and the thing is covered in blood & fat, whereas it's very fast to switch blades. For a lot of purposes though, i'll give you that any good hunting knife is just as adequate, but for skinning around the horns of a sheep, there is nothing better than that thin blade.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from pineywoods wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

Your comments about the sharpness of the havalon leads me to believe that you don't know much about sharpening knives. I'll put my knives up against any scalpel you choose when it comes to an edge. They'll hold the edge, too.

Now if you want a blade that will sure 'nuff do some cutting, get hold of a Cutco hunting knife. Those things are scary.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tylerfreel85 wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I figured I'd get a rise out of you guys haha! I know it'd feel like cheating if you didn't use that Randall! they're awesome! I have a really nice treeman..love that thing...but for simple practicality, especially on backpack hunts, I have a hard time admitting that there's better than the havalon....yeah..kind of like arguing for the best cartridge...no perfect answer..but i know i can skin & clean just about anything faster with a havalon than anything else!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

What do I do with my Randall knife? Beatiful to gaze upon and feels wonderful in my hand. And my Buck folding hunter that my sweet baby gave me 27 years ago. What do I do with it? Then there is my SOG. I can't do it Tyler!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

-I've never really liked blades that had any give to them
-I wouldn't call it the "best", but I'm sure you expected that many people would disagree as well(It's like trying to say what caliber is best for an animal).

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from tylerfreel85 wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I figured I'd get a rise out of you guys haha! I know it'd feel like cheating if you didn't use that Randall! they're awesome! I have a really nice treeman..love that thing...but for simple practicality, especially on backpack hunts, I have a hard time admitting that there's better than the havalon....yeah..kind of like arguing for the best cartridge...no perfect answer..but i know i can skin & clean just about anything faster with a havalon than anything else!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

-I've never really liked blades that had any give to them
-I wouldn't call it the "best", but I'm sure you expected that many people would disagree as well(It's like trying to say what caliber is best for an animal).

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

What do I do with my Randall knife? Beatiful to gaze upon and feels wonderful in my hand. And my Buck folding hunter that my sweet baby gave me 27 years ago. What do I do with it? Then there is my SOG. I can't do it Tyler!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from tylerfreel85 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

thanks pineywoods, i can sharpen just fine, and the havalon is still my all around favorite. Even the best knives will lose an edge over the course of cleaning a moose or skinning a brown bear...and I've tried a lot of them. They are much more difficult to get an edge on halfway through skinning a moose in the dark when you're dog tired and the thing is covered in blood & fat, whereas it's very fast to switch blades. For a lot of purposes though, i'll give you that any good hunting knife is just as adequate, but for skinning around the horns of a sheep, there is nothing better than that thin blade.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from tharings wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

Hey Tyler,
How many replacement blades do you use on a dall sheep, grizzly, and mountain goat each separately?
I am trying to figure out how many I have to carry with me on a long backpack hunt for each different species. I want to keep the weight a low as possible.
What do you keep your blades stored in on a hunt?
Cheers,
Trevor

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tylerfreel85 wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

thanks for the question tharings, for sheep or goats, I'll usually go through a couple blades in the main process, then a third for caping. Depending on conditions, it can take quite a few..especially for bears. My brown bear was on a beach & the sand dulled the blades fairly quickly. I usually carry a dozen extra blades just in case..they fit in the knife's carry case very easily and are pretty cheap and very light.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from pineywoods wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

Your comments about the sharpness of the havalon leads me to believe that you don't know much about sharpening knives. I'll put my knives up against any scalpel you choose when it comes to an edge. They'll hold the edge, too.

Now if you want a blade that will sure 'nuff do some cutting, get hold of a Cutco hunting knife. Those things are scary.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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