Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

What is a Hunting Knife?

The Hunting Knife

By the purest definition, a hunting knife is a blade that is used to hunt wild game. It is the actual implementation that will make the kill, even though the game may take some time to die. In addition, a hunting knife most often will be used for cleaning and gutting the animal.


Of course, it depends on what is being hunted. Some game, especially large game, may have a very tough hide, in which case the blade used to kill the animal will be different than the one used to gut and clean the animal.

Choosing a Hunting Knife

You need to think about a few main ideas when you are selecting your blade.

  • What are you going to be hunting?
  • What is your budget?
  • How often will you be hunting?

Make a list of what you will be hunting: deer, boar, bear, elk, and so on… Be sure to check with your local game warden! Local laws may vary if you aren’t in survival mode.

Here is some Hog Hunting – probably the most popular kind of knife hunting in North America.

For me, I prefer the solid feel and sturdiness of a fixed blade knife. They are rugged, have a classic look, reliable, and they are the easiest to clean and maintain.

A folding knife can be a good choice if you want a lighter, smaller option. They are usually easier to carry around.

Here is a folding knife that is a viable option as a hunting knife.
Here is a folding knife that is a viable option as a hunting knife.

Here is a good guide that goes into the details of choosing a hunting blade.

Maintenance Tips for Hunting Knives

These are a few tips and tricks that I’ve picked up over the years.

  • Keep your hunting knife sharp by periodically sharpening your knife. I use a Gatco Sharpening System, but you can even use a whetstone. There isn’t necessarily ONE best hunting knife sharpener but do some research to find what is best for you. Most of the time it comes down to a budget versus time consideration.
  • Keep your hunting knife clean. This is very important when you actually go on a hunt. You will have blood and other biologically “dirty” stuff on the blade. You can use soap and water – just be sure to dry the blade very well.
  • Keep your blade in a sheath. You don’t want the sharp metal banging around on other things. In addition, if someone walks up and shouldn’t be messing around with the blade, the sheath will make them think twice about unsheathing.