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10 Must-Have Items to Butcher, Prep, and Store Wild Game (Great Gift Ideas!)

wild game

Are you a wild game hunter looking to level up your butchering skills?

Are you helping a new hunter get into the sport but don’t want to overwhelm them with an expensive shopping list?

Do you know someone who hunts every year yet uses the same old, busted tools they started with?

From deer to bear and everything in-between, let us show you what to give the hunter on your list this holiday season. (Psst… You can also gift these items to yourself — we won’t tell!)

10 Tools Every Hunter Needs to Prep, Store, and Enjoy Wild Game Meat


Skill and experience aside, high-quality tools can make a huge difference in how quickly and easily you take an animal and turn it into ready-to-eat steaks, burger meat, or jerky.

Here are the top 10 must-have tools for processing wild game in the field and at home.

1. Gloves

DEX FIT Level 5 Cut Resistant Gloves Cru553, 3D Comfort Stretch Fit,...

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No matter the species, field dressing wild game is a messy job. The bigger the animal, the bigger the mess, and it’s a mess you won’t clean out of your hunting apparel easily.

Grossness aside, field dressing means exposing yourself to bodily fluids and substances that can harbor dangerous bacteria. The more protection between you and the wild game’s insides, the less likely you are to cross-contaminate your belongings.

Disposable versions like the 20 Pairs Disposable Nitrile Mittens Hunting Deer Gutting Mittens...  have everything you need for on-the-go dressing. While they’re designed for large animals like deer, you can get away with using them for pretty much any wild game.

For an added touch of safety, cut-resistant gloves like the DEX FIT Level 5 Cut Resistant Gloves Cru553, 3D Comfort Stretch Fit,... will protect your hands from knives and bone shards while you work. Even the most skilled hunters can cut themselves while rooting inside a deer, boar, or bear.

Single-use gloves are fine in a pinch, but buying new ones every hunting season can be expensive and wasteful. The Big Game Gut Glove 26" Regular Uncle Freddie's (Large) Big Game Gut Gloves keep your hands safe and clean with a single investment that will last through years of hunting excursions.

2. Knives

Gerber Vital Skin and Gut Knife [31-002743]

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You should always keep a utility knife within reach when out in the field for safety’s sake. When it comes time to field dress a deer or other game animal, you’re going to want the right tools for the job.

The 6-piece Outdoor Edge Cutlery Wild Pak is an affordable option for beginners. Or try out the 10-piece Mossy Oak Hunting Field Dressing Kit.

If you’re looking for a field dressing kit made to last that offers plenty of versatility, the Outdoor Edge Cutlery Outfitter set includes nine top-quality knives and tools. This is a great kit for experienced hunters who need to replace or upgrade their existing gear.

Field dressing kits include everything you need. But, while not necessary, there are some tools that can make this messy job a bit easier. The xxxx  Gerber Vital Skin Knife makes quick work of the grosser part of dressing deer and other game.

Recommended Read: Which Hunting Bow is Right for You? An Introduction to Bowhunting Tools

3. Knife sharpener

Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener

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If you’re going to carry a knife, you better have a quick and efficient way to sharpen it. A dull knife is not much better than no knife at all.

Most field dressing kits do come with a sharpener. Still, many hunters choose to upgrade to a better tool.

The Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener has a reputation for being one of the best hunting knife sharpeners out there. It’s lightweight and compact but doesn’t sacrifice quality along the way.

Caring for your knife sharpener will ensure it lasts through tons of wear-and-tear. Pick up the Aenllosi Hard Carrying Case to protect your new Work Sharp knife sharpener from damage.

4. Game bags

Koola Buck 5-Pack Reusable Hunting Game/Meat Bags - 1-Pack 72' Full...

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After all the hard work of gutting and skinning your kill, the last thing you want is to contaminate it. The sooner you can get your wild game meat into a clean container, the better.

Out in the field, nothing works quite as well as a set of game bags. These come in all different sizes — the Koola Buck Deer and Antelope Body Bag holds an entire deer — so be sure to grab the right ones for your planned hunt.

For large game, the Allen Big Game Quarter Game/Meat Bags work great. They come in a set of four, and each bag holds up to a quarter of an elk or moose.

5. Hoist system

HME Hunting Made Easy TPH Game Hoist Tri-Pod, TPH

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Without a doubt, hoisting up a freshly shot deer or other large game animal makes field processing much, much easier. And a portable hoist system is probably a lot more affordable than you think.

The HME Tri-Pod Hoist is a standalone structure that can hold up to 300 pounds. It weighs just 50 pounds on its own, making it relatively easy to transport, and sets up with little hassle.

If you want a hoist that works in the field or your garage or shed, the Hunters Specialties Game Hoist Lift System is your best option. Setup is a bit more involved than other systems, but it has a 4-to-1 pulley lift ratio and can safely support wild game up to 600 pounds.

6. Cooler

YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler, White

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You might be processing your wild game meat at home, but food safety needs to start in the field.

Unless you’re hunting on your own property (or very close to home), a heavy-duty cooler should definitely be part of your hunting kit. Look for a cooler that holds at least 65 quarts if you want it to fit a full deer.

YETI coolers are a favorite among sportsmen and outdoors enthusiasts, so you can’t go wrong there. The YETI Tundra 65 Cooler is a great option that will last a lifetime. The YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler is another model that’s super easy to maneuver across challenging terrain (but keep in mind it only holds 55 quarts).

If you’re looking for something even more spacious, the Orca 75 Quart Hard Cooler is another favorite of the hunting community.

Yes, a cooler this size is definitely an investment. But remember that you can use your new cooler year-round — not just during hunting season.

7. Meat grinder

STX Turboforce Cadet Electric Meat Grinder, Vegetable Slicer & Sausage...

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Your work isn’t done after field dressing and hauling home your kill. Unless you plan to immediately ship your animal off to a wild game processor, it’s time to think about processing and storing the meat.

After skinning and deboning a deer or other game animal, many hunters divide the meat into two categories. The first category includes the very best cuts, and it’s best to keep these muscle groups intact during field dressing and butchering.

The second category tends to be the bigger of the two and includes all of the good pieces of meat that can’t be used for steaks. Instead, these pieces work great for jerky, stews, and burgers.

But how do you turn wild game meat into ground burger patties? You’ll need a meat grinder.

There’s nothing wrong with using a hand-crank grinder, especially if you only have a small amount of meat to process. The CAM2 304 Stainless Steel Heavy Duty Manual Meat Grinder #10 is a simple and affordable option that can still handle tough pieces of muscle with little issue.

Of course, electric meat grinders will save a ton of time and muscle soreness the next day. If your household owns a KitchenAid stand mixer, the Metal Food Grinder Attachment for KitchenAid Stand Mixers is a great compromise between manual and standalone electric models.

However, for anyone who hunts and butchers wild game with any regularity, a freestanding electric grinder is an investment worth making. The STX TurboForce Cadet Electric Meat Grinder can grind up to 180 pounds of meat per hour and comes with various grinding plates and speed settings.

Recommended Read: Insulated Rubber Hunting Boots Review – 10 Pairs You Need to Try This Year

8. Scale

LEM Products 435 Stainless Steel Scale

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Before you package and store your freshly butchered steaks and ground meat, you need to think ahead to weeks or months in the future. When you pull those cuts out of the freezer, will you know how much each weighs?

A high-quality kitchen scale is the key to turning your wild game meat into a gourmet meal. Without this simple tool, you won’t know if you’re grilling up half-a-pound or three. Plus, you won’t know how many people you can feed with a handful of steaks.

Manual scales work well because they’re easy to tare, durable, and you won’t get stuck with a set of dead batteries in the middle of butchering a deer, elk, or boar. The LEM Products 435 Stainless Steel Scale Steel Scale has a large base, easy-to-read dial, and can weigh up to 44 pounds at a time.

Some hunters do prefer digital scales for their butchering needs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Make sure to invest in a model that can handle heavy loads and is easy to sterilize after each use.

The Etekcity Digital Kitchen Scale can weigh up to 11 pounds at a time. The display is easier to read than other digital models, and the large-capacity stainless steel bowl is a convenient add-on.

9. Freezer supplies

LEM Products One Pound Wild Game Bags (100 Bags)

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When it comes to freezing whole cuts and steaks, you can treat your wild game just like any other meat. Use high-quality freezer paper — the Meat Hugger White Freezer Paper Dispenser Box is super-handy for large jobs — for cuts that you will use within a year.

If you’re storing ground meat, then invest in some freezer-safe bags. The UltraSource Wild Game Freezer Meat Bags are a great option for bags with a one-pound capacity. For something a bit larger, the LEM Products Wild Game Bags hold two pounds each.

Regular markers, even Sharpies, can wear off after months of sitting in a freezer. Specialty markers, like the Freezer Markers, Set of 2, will ensure your labels stay legible no matter what.

10. Dehydrator

Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine - Digital Adjustable Timer |...

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For many, you can’t have a successful hunting season without a batch of jerky to show for it. That is because making jerky from wild game meat is incredibly easy (and often delicious!)

You can make jerky in a traditional oven or smoker, and tons of sportsmen and women prefer these methods. The Weston Nonstick 3-Tier Drying Rack and Baking Pan set includes everything you need to make jerky in an oven.

But no jerky-making method is simpler than using a designated dehydrator.

If you or someone you know loves coming up with new jerky recipes each hunting season, the Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine makes an amazing gift. After just a few uses, it will practically pay for itself in delicious jerky.


Share the Gift of the Great Outdoors This Season

Everyone loves gifts they will actually use, especially if those gifts are related to a favorite hobby. For hunters, this applies tenfold.

Whether you’re shopping for an outdoorsy loved one or stocking your own field kit for the next season, hunting is one sport where it’s always better to be overprepared.

You’re always adding new items to your kit or replacing the ones your already own. Plus, you really never know when having the right tool will get you out of an otherwise sticky situation!

So if you’re not sure what to put on your gift-giving list this year, we’ve got you covered.

What must-have tools are in your field dressing kit or butchering set up? Share your favorites in the comments below!

Last update on 2021-01-18 at 19:31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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