The 5 Best Skinning Knife for Deer Review and Buying Guide

Skinning Knife for Deer

Are you a newbie deer hunter and you plan to having your first hunting expedition? Have you already chosen an ideal hunting spot? Do you know how to skin deer/are you aware of the different types of deer skinning knives available?

Here is a solution to your problems. This article entails details on how to skin and dress dear, how to use and maintain a skinning knife, the best skinning knives  for deer and their price ranges.

Skinning is a process which involves removing an animal’s skin. It is a way of preparing its flesh for consumption or tanning its skin. You can sell the skin in a fur market or use it to get a bounty from a game agency, or a government ministry. There are different skinning methods which are used when dressing animals of varying sizes.

hunter skinning deer

​Skinning Methods

​There are four main methods which are used when skinning animals. They include;

1. Case Skinning

​It involves peeling of deer skin like a sock and it is mostly used if the animal will be dried before being stored. The method is efficient in small deer species as the skin remains undamaged and in a tube-like shape. General steps followed when skinning an animal are all similar. When dressing deer, it is advisable that you hung it upside down. Make a cut in one of its legs and extend it upwards up to its anus and then proceed to the other leg. At this stage, you can quickly pull down the skin as if you are removing a sock.

2. Open Skinning 

​In this method, the skin is usually removed like a sweater. It is appropriate if the animal’s skin will be frozen or tanned immediately. It can be used as rugs or hung on walls and open skinning is mostly used when dressing large deer species. You should first place the animal on a flat platform. Make a cut from its anus and extend it to the lower lip after which you should cut the legs upwards. One can then peel the skin from the deer. The last step is usually scraping flesh and excess fat from the inside part of the skin using a bone or blunt tool.

​3. Dorsal Skinning

​This method has minor variations from open skinning. It is commonly used by taxidermists as one can easily access and clean the backbone than the animal’s stomach and between its legs. A cut is made along the deer’s spine and upwards from its belly. Before making a dorsal incision, you should first lay deer on its abdomen and cut its tail’s base while extending it to its shoulder. You can easily remove the skin of a freshly killed animal.

​4. Cape Skinning

​It involves the removal of the head, neck and shoulder skin to display the animal on the wall as a trophy. The method is suitable for all deer sizes.

​There is more than one way to skin a deer. How you decide to skin your deer mainly depends on whether you want to mount the head and shoulders or not. This article describes techniques for both situations.

​How to Skin Deer

​There are two methods that you can use when skinning your deer.

How to Skin Deer

1. Skinning Method Not For Mounting

​This approach entails following these steps.

  • Hang the deer: You can hang the deer on a tree or tractor it with a nylon rope around its neck or antlers.
the Hang the deer
  • Make chest and neck incisions: Cut the skull’s base, just around the neck. Extend it to the front part of the neck and later to its chest, abdomen, and genitals. Once you make the initial incision on its neck, prolong the cut while the knife’s blade faces upwards. It extends the blade’s life span as it doesn’t cut fur and it reduces the possibility of you puncturing a vital organ. Ensure that you cut through the membrane and skin but not into muscles.
Make chest and neck incisions
  • Make deep incisions on the deer’s front legs: Extend the incision on the animal’s chest to its front legs and circumscribe them above the knees.
Make deep incisions on the deer
  • ​Slowly remove the hide: You should use your hands to gently pull off the skin from the neck and legs as you move towards the chest. In case a muscle tissue is not detached from the hide, cut the underlying membrane with a small sharp knife.
Make Cuts Down the Front Legs
  • Place a small round stone in between the hide and behind the neck: The stone should be put once you detach the hide from the neck and the legs. Ball it up around the circular stone as it will enable you to grip it.
  • Pull off the deer hide using a rope: Tie a rope around the small round ball of detached hide and pull it to remove the hide. You can also tie the loose end of the rope to a vehicle and drive it forward slightly.
Pull off the deer hide using a rope
  • ​Clean the meat: Once you skin the animal, rinse its carcass with some clean water to remove loose hair that could lower its market value.

​2. Skinning for Future Mounting

​Follow the steps highlighted below when applying this skinning method.

  • Hang the deer: Avoid hanging it by its neck or by dragging it with a rope tied to its neck. Doing so could damage the hide. You should instead hang it on a tree or tractor it around its back legs.
  • Make a chest incision: The method enables you to shoulder mount the deer. If you intend to mount its shoulders and head, avoid damaging its cape during skinning. You should make the first incision in the chest, beneath the sternum. Make subsequent cuts with the knife’s blade facing up as it prolongs its life span and also prevents you from accidentally puncturing a vital internal organ.
  • Make incisions on the deer’s legs: Make precise incisions around the front legs, between the armpits and the knees after which you should circumscribe the front legs and extend the incision to the armpits. The upwards incision should be in line with where the white and brown fur meet. Be keen when making these incisions.
  • Link the cuts: Extend the cut at the armpit to the straight back and intersect it with the chest incision. The new cut should be parallel to the deer’s body.
  • Remove the deer’s cape: While using a small knife gently cut the underlying membrane and peel the hide. Roll the cape to remove loose hair from the meat. Avoid cutting the skin to retain its quality.
  • Cut off the head: You can remove the deer’s head after peeling off hide from its neck, chest and front legs. Use a sharp knife to cut through the thick muscles about three inches behind the skull up to the bone. Upon reaching the vertebrae, remove the head by cutting the bone with a small bone saw. A taxidermist will use the three inches you left in the neck to pick an appropriate mannequin for the mount.
  • Finalize the skinning: Skin the animal’s bottom using any method and rinse the carcass with water to remove loose fur from the meat. You can then put the head and cape and take them to a taxidermist for mounting.

​How to Sharpen the best Skinning Knife for deer

​You can use this method when sharpening your skinning knife.

Top Hunting Knife Sharpener

Using a Diamond Stone or a Whetstone

Follow these steps when using this method.

​Sharpen the knife at an angle: It is advisable to use the same angle in several sharpening sessions as it minimizes the time spent. In case you don’t know the suitable angle, you can inquire the manufacturer or a good knife shop to determine the appropriate angle for your knife. Steeper angles of about 200are the best as they are more durable unlike shallow angles of about 600.

​Lubricate the whetstone with a mineral oil: A light oils such as honing oil provides adequate lubrication which eases smooth movement of the knife, and it also prevents steel shavings from blocking stone pores. Alternatively, you can check the stone’s manufacturer instructions about lubrication. There are some sharpening stones that need lubrication while as others get destroyed if you lubricate them.

Control the edge’s angle by using an angle guide: A sharpening tool is usually placed beneath the skinning knife to maintain a uniform angle when scraping it across the stone. However, you will have to control the sharpening angle by hand.

Begin with the stone’s rough grit side: You can identify the grit by checking the stone’s packaging. The stones have different grits on each side, and the rough side is used to grind steel where as the fine one hone or sharpens knives. Grinding should be the first step. If the knife has a symmetrical edge, drag it across the sharpening stone in the opposite direction. This forms a blur and prolongs its durability.

Create a new edge by constantly flipping the knife and sharpening one side of its blade: A blur will rise after enough metal has been removed. You can feel it as it will scrape your thumb if you rub it from the knife’s edge. Fine stones produce little blurs.

Flip the whetstone and start sharpening one edge of the blade using the fine grit: The main aim at this point should be to smoothen and to eliminate blurs which were formed when grinding the skinning knife over the course grit. It makes the blade to develop a honed edge. Use the fine grit on both sides of the knife’s blade.

Alternate swipes on the stone’s fine grit: While using a single stroke, sharpen one edge of the knife and flip it to the other one severally. You can continue stropping the blade until it attains your desired sharpness. It will enable the knife to cut materials without sliding its blade across directly.

​The Best Deer Skinning Knives

1. Havalon Piranta Z Folding Blade Skinning Knife

Havalon Piranta Z Folding Blade Skinning Knife, 2.75" Blade

​The skinning knife has a steel blade, and it is shipped within two days after placing an order. You are not charged any extra shipping costs.


  • ​It is easily affordable due to its modest price.
  • The knife is highly efficient.


  • ​Use it carefully to avoid injuries.

2. Buck Knives 113 Ranger Skinner Hunting Knife

 Buck Knives 113 Ranger Skinner Hunting Knife

​Buck knife comes with a gut hook and caper blades, a combo sheath and a knife kit. Its thick duo nylon sheath has liners that help you to firmly grip it. There are zipper storage pockets, a retention strap that holds it in place and an adjustable back strap


  • ​Buck knife is portable as it has a minimalist design and light weight.
  • Customers get a 100% warranty upon purchasing it.
  • It can be used for various purposes.
  • The handle grip eases its usage as it prevents the knife from slipping.
  • Its 420hc steel body has a traction coating that increases its durability.


  • ​It has extremely sharp blades which could injure someone if they are mishandled.

3. Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite EDC Folding Knife

Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite EDC Folding Knifes

​The knife is sold at less than $80, and it is shipped within two days after a customer places an order.


  • ​There is a 420J2 steel blade which is easily replaceable. It comes with six different blades each being 3.5-inch long and having a total weight of 2.8 ounces.
  • It has a belt clip for easy carrying when hunting.
  • The Ivory TPR handles ensure a firm grip when it is wet.


  • ​The glass or nylon handle could easily break.

4. Elk Ridge Skinning Knife

Elk Ridge Hunting Knife Two-Piece Set, 7-Inch Straight Edge and 6.5-Inch Gut Hook Blades

​Elk knife has a gut hook blade and a straight edge. The blade is 6.5 inches long while the side is 17 inches long.


  • ​The knife has a comfortable grip.
  • It has a sharp and strong blade which makes it efficient.
  • Its light weight makes it portable.
  • Clients can afford it as it has a fair price.


  • ​The knife is dull when it is brand new, and you have to sharpen it first.

5. Winchester Skinning Knife

Winchester Skinner Knife, Fine Edge, Black

​The knife has a surgical steel blade that is 4.7 inches long. Its blade forms perfect cuts, and it has an ups welt design which eases the skinning process.


  • ​Its sturdy design makes it have a firm grip.
  • The price is affordable.
  • It has a belt loop and a sheath for safe storage and transportation.


  • ​It can easily break if mishandled.

​Skinning is an essential activity when hunting. You should choose the best skinning knife for deer to get desirable results. Caution should be taken as the knife could easily slip and cut you.


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