One of the truest adages about hunting that I have ever heard is that once that successful shot hits home, the fun is over. I have found this to be a fact
with every kill I have ever made. Once that tag is clipped, the real work of the hunt begins, whether you are hunting for meat or for sport. The animal
needs to be cleaned and packed out, and having some of the right tools along can be of great assistance for making a tough job a little bit easier.
The most important tools when it comes to cleaning are your knives. A lot of people think that the bigger the knife, the better,
but this is not always the case when dressing out game. The knife used will have to be easy to wield, because the last thing that you want to do while making
that first cut is to pierce the stomach or intestines, because that is the surest way (next to touching the scent glands on deer) of spoiling the meat and
ruining the hide. Big bowie knives are great for show and tell, but for the real hunter a smaller fixed blade will always be best. Often knives can be purchased
in sets, look for ones like the Triple Combo. These sets include a stout gutting knife
as well as a good hide knife and a reliable skinning knife. All of these knives are essential when it comes to field dressing, and you will also want to make
sure that the grip is a comfortable fit (Suregrip, etc.)
Next, make sure that you have a good saw packed along. The kit from Outdoor Edge is a set that includes both a knife and a small saw that will be helpful with smaller game and small bones on bigger animals, but nothing beats a good hacksaw
that can be used as a meat saw on larger game. This will help get larger animals quartered into more packable pieces in the event that you have to carry it a long way.
A lot of kills are made around dusk, so many hunters will want to be sure that they have some kind of illumination that they can work with when night falls.
D-battery Maglites are great illuminators but can be unwieldy when it comes to positioning them for dressing in the dark. Bulkier flashlights are better, and cordless spotlights
with rechargeable batteries will work better still. I have found that nothing beats a headlamp
such as the Enduro however, as the beam will follow your line of sight and make night dressing a snap.
Once you have dressed the animal, of course, it is time to pack it out to camp or to your vehicle. You will need a lot of good rope, standard stuff such as this
strong tow strap will always do. A stripped down backpack frame can make an ideal carrying
case for quarters of meat when attached securely, and shorter bungees will help adjust the pack accordingly.
Dressing and packing out a kill is definitely one of the tougher aspect of the hunt, but once it is accomplished easily with the right equipment all that is left
is to spin the tales to your friends and family.