September 15, 2022
A wise man once said: "The fun’s over when the shooting stops.” After the shot and at the end of the blood trail is when the hard work begins. It’s time to honor the animal by carefully quartering it out, placing each piece of hard-earned trophy in a game bag and getting it someplace cool as quickly as possible, lest you lose even an ounce of meat to heat, flies and decay. Only then, once you’ve packed all the meat, is it time to bring the antlers out of the field.
The gutless method of field processing a big-game animal continues to gain popularity, and with good reason. Not only does the gutless method avoid the mess that is often made when gutting an animal, but it initiates quicker heat dispersion in the meat and makes for easier pack outs.
To do the gutless method correctly, you will need a few more items than your traditional pocket knife you have used for years to gut your deer. Hence the need for what is commonly referred to as a Kill Kit. These kits are simply the items you will need for processing kept together in a single bag for easy access and storage. The contents of a kill kit can vary drastically from hunter to hunter, but the basics remain the same.
Below is a list of kill kit essentials as well as a couple of extra items that, while not 100 percent necessary, can simplify the process. Tailor this list to your needs and enjoy the benefits of a kill kit.
A sharp knife is stating the extremely obvious, yet many dull blades grace hunters’ kill kits every year. The gutless method requires a lot more cutting than gutting an animal does. Despite what the best knife makers in the country say, I am yet to see or use a knife that can make it through an entire elk without needing a touch up on the edge. This necessitates a small knife steel or sharpener of some sort to be thrown into your kit.
For the gutless method you will need four quarter bags and another smaller bag for the loose meat (backstraps, tenderloins, neck roasts, etc.). Game bags have come a long way from their canvas and nylon beginnings with a plethora of good, lightweight, reusable options available today. And for the love of all that is good in this world, stop using trash bags as game bags!
Call me whatever derogatory name you want but wearing rubber gloves while processing an animal is essential. Besides making clean-up a breeze, they can protect my hands from inevitable nicks and cuts from a sharp knife blade and a resulting infection.
The first miscellaneous item that is nice to have in your kill kit is a lightweight tarp for placing meat on to keep it clean. The other item that is a handy addition is 10-20 feet of paracord to hang quarters when needed. Zip ties are also good to have when you need them.