Let’s face it, big-game field care is never fun. It’s messy, time-consuming and tedious—especially skinning. Any tool available to a successful hunter that can speed the work is a great advantage. While both the clip and drop-point blade patterns can be employed, often users aren’t as careful as they need to be when field dressing and skinning. When this happens, the digestive system of the animal is compromised, spilling its contents inside of the body cavity. And this can lead to premature spoilage. Likewise, when the muscle tissue is accidentally cut this opens a pathway for insect intrusion and promotes early bacterial growth.
To provide an enhanced blade option, knife designers have developed what is known as the “guthook.” In theory, the guthook is engaged into the skin at a predetermined entry point and when pulled toward the user it slits open the hide without cutting into underlying tissue. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” guthook. What may work on a Pacific coastal blacktail deer in August and September, when they have their light summer pelage, will clog with hair when used on an antelope, mule deer, whitetail or elk during the late fall. And if the guthook opening is enlarged to work on all manner of animals, no matter how thin or thick their hair may be, then there’s a distinct possibility that the tip of the hook will slice into more than just hide.
Some knives have a guthook engineered into the back of the blade, near the tip. Unfortunately, such a feature can be an impediment when attempting to free the terminal end (anus) of the digestive system from surrounding muscle tissue. The tip of the guthook will catch on the exposed hindquarter muscle tissue and make it difficult to easily core-out the anus.
For many years European big-game hunters have used a gutting blade to slice open animal hide without any of the problems mentioned above. Such a blade has a blunt tip, with a sharpen edge following behind. The user need only make a small entry cut into the animal hide. Afterward, the gutting blade is inserted with the edge up. As the blade is pushed forward, the hide rides up and over the blunt tip and is slit open by the sharpened edge. Best of all, there is no way that the edge ever comes into contact with underlying tissue.
American hunters have been slow to grasp the gutting blade concept. However, the folks at Outdoor Edge have recently introduced their new “Flip n’ Zip” double-blade folder (Model FZ-20), which is sure to gain favor with our own domestic hunting community. This new design mates both a drop-point main blade with an innovative gutting blade in a lock-blade folding knife design that isn’t any thicker than most single-blade folders.
Both the main blade and its companion gutting blade in this new design are crafted from 8Cr13MoV stainless steel and are vacuum heat treated. The hollow-ground, drop-point pattern main blade is secured in the open position with a back spring lock mechanism, while the gutting blade employs a liner lock. And both blades have an easy opening stud for one-hand manipulation. Additional blade features are a short section of jimping on the main blade for a thumb positioning. And a similar asset can be found on the gutting blade for secure positioning of the forefinger when the blade is in use.