It’s a common phrase to hear, “That real work begins after nailing your shot.” Once you bag your buck, now you have the hard work in field dressing and packing out your game. What are some of the must-have gear for your first field dressing? Keep reading to find out.

Field Dressing Cutting Tools

Most big game hunters opt for hunting knives, gut hooks, and a fixed blade saw for field dressing–though, it truly depends on your field dressing style.

Hunting Knife

Soap Mesa Outfitters recommend an all-purpose hunting knife that has a drop point, or clip point, blade. It should have enough width to provide a deep belly and considerable curve between the belly and the tip. One suggestion is to bring a knife sharpener with you, to keep your blade on point.

Gut Hook

While a gut hook is not considered critical gear, it can be helpful. Gut hooks are designed to open the belly of big game, cutting quickly through the animal’s hide, and it can save your knife’s edge for the softer meat and tissue inside. However, some hunters believe you can achieve the same effect with your big game hunting knife. At Soap Mesa Outfitters, we want you to have a memorable trip, and if a gut hook provides ease to your field dressing process, then to each their own.

Fixed Blade Saw

Some hunters swear that using a fixed blade saw can expedite your first field dressing experience. Compact or folding saws are the best, especially if they have specific blades for cutting bone. If you opt for gutless method–where a hunter skins the animal and cuts away the leg quarters and boneless meat without removing the internal organs from the gut cavity–you may not need a fixed blade saw; however, it will help remove your hindquarters faster.

As with most hunting gear, buying your cutting tools in blaze orange not only adds to hunter safety, but it helps you find your tools when mixed with parts of animals and plant matter.

Field Dressing Sanitation Supplies

Working in the field can be dirty business, but that’s not good for your fresh harvest. It’s important to keep your game as clean as possible while you are field dressing.

Field Dressing Gloves

Just like with many products, you can purchase either disposable or reusable field dressing gloves. Also, depending on where you will be hunting, you may want to consider buying an insulated pair of gloves. Nothing is worst that harvesting a trophy in below freezing weather. Also, you may want to consider longer gloves for added protection.

Ground Tarp

Look on any hunting forum, and you’ll find that everyone has their own preferred method. So, do you even need a tarp or ground cloth? In order to keep your tools and quartered pieces as clean as plausible when working outdoors, then purchasing a ground cloth may be worth the added weight to your pack. There are several brands and materials out there, so be sure to do the research to select the best material that work with your style of field dressing.

Packing Out Supplies

For big game hunters who trek into the mountains usually means hauling heavy loads out. The two items that will help with your heavy loads are game bags and game backpacks.

Hunting Backpacks

When hunting big game like elk and mule deer, you’ll want a pack that is lightweight, but is also heavy-duty. Not only will you be hauling hundreds of pounds of flesh in your pack, you also need space for your gear.

We recommend visiting your local hunting store and trying on several backpacks. You’ll want to make sure it fits like a glove. Also, look for a backpack with an external frame. The external frame will help disperse the heavy elk quarters, and you can use a carabiner or rope to attach additional gear or animal products.

Hunting Game Bags

It’s a great idea to invest in large game bags. Look for game bags that can hold at least one quarter (front or rear). While you can purchase disposable bags, it may be more cost effective to buy a reusable bag that can be washed in between uses. Not only does having a game bag help prevent spillage in your backpack, it also helps keep the meat fresh and protected from insects.

Outfitters For Life

Field dressing an animal prior to quartering helps cool the carcass and can make it easier to manage when hauling over rugged terrain. However, this can attract a large number of flies. With practice, you may find it better to quarter the animal before field dressing it. Let our professional guides be there for your first field dressing experience.

Soap Mesa Outfitters provides unparalleled guided hunts. We pride ourselves in our knowledge in scouting for big game in the Western Rockies and in our skillset with modern hunting tools.

Come experience an elk hunt like no other. It’s open season, y’all.