The Wenger SWIBO 8-inch cimeter steaking knife is ideal for the smaller cuts found on the average deer, like these backstraps.
Given the added expense and “shrinkage” involved in taking a deer to a professional butcher for cutting and wrapping, I have always done my own meat cutting. While the results from the first couple of dozen bucks might not have been pretty, eventually I developed a system and skills to make the job easier. Of course, being a knife guy, I’ve never had any real incentive to try and limit the collection of blades I use each fall. A couple of boning knives actually do the bulk of the work but I always find employment for a number of other more specialized models.
Cimeter steaking knives are probably next in importance to the boning blades for me. The long, continuous curved edge of this style of knife makes slicing clean, even-size steaks from large chunks of meat much easier than with a straight blade. The thing is the standard 10- and 12-inch models are really overkill on all but the largest cuts of meat found on a deer. Some years ago I picked up a smaller Art Ullis brand, German-made 8-inch cimeter. Ullis was a cutlery importer and wholesaler based in Tacoma, Washington, that went out of business sometime in the late 1970s. For a period of time there were a number of bargains to be had from Ullis’ inventory liquidation. I found this Ullis blade at a local knife show.
Unlike the majority of modern meat-processing knives, the Ullis blade is straight carbon steel. Some might consider this a major plus but I’ve always found it added the problem of keeping the blade rust-free in a wet, corrosive environment without adding any really noticeable amount of edge retention. As I’ve said before, blanket statements about “good old carbon steel takes a finer edge and holds it longer than that rotten new stainless stuff” are ridiculous. There are many different carbon alloys and, just as with stainless steel, not all of them are equal in performance.