If you’ll be targeting bucks and birds this fall before getting back to chasing pike, perch and ‘eyes on the ice, don’t put away your Rapala fillet knives when you put down your open-water long rods.
“Whether I’m fishing, deer hunting, or grouse hunting, I carry a Rapala® fillet knife, says Joel Nelson, an outdoorsman featured often on the In-Depth Outdoors show on Fox Sports North. “A combination of strength, flexibility and finesse make Rapala knives perfect for both filleting fish and deboning and butchering game.”
While traditional hunting knives work well for quartering deer and other heavy-duty tasks, Nelson says, they can be too stiff and bulky for most butchering beyond field dressing. “I find it easier to do most everything with a Rapala fillet knife because they’re not big, bulky and gaudy and hard to handle in tight spots,” he explains. “But they’re not too thin and whippy, either. They’re sturdy at the base.”
Rapala fillet knives hold an edge well too.
“When you’re cutting into bone and you’re hacking away at the harder parts of muscle groups, eventually any knife’s going to get dull,” Nelson says. “But a Rapala blade, give it a few swipes through the sharpener that comes with it, and its back to fresh-out-of-the-package sharpness.”
Because traditional, heavy-duty hunting knives have a “tricky” bevel, Nelson says, they often require expensive, professional sharpening. “But Rapala knives are nice because it’s quick and easy to sharpen them right there in the field,” he says.
When deer hunting, Nelson packs three Rapala knives — a 6-inch Soft Grip Fillet, a 4-inch Fish’N Fillet and a 7 ½ inch Soft Grip Fillet. The 6-inch Soft Grip is his “all-purpose work horse,” while the 7 ½ inch model is a good “all-around deboning knife.” He uses the 4-inch, wood-handled, Marttiini-made, Fish-N-Fillet® knife for detail work, like caping out a deer.
“Taking the hide off back up towards the head requires really delicate work around the eyes,” Nelson explains. “And even if you have the taxidermist do that part, it’s great for any fine-detail cutting around the deer.”
Once he’s quartered a deer carcass with a standard hunting knife, Nelson uses his 7 ½ inch Soft Grip to take all the meat off the bone. “It’s got the combination of the flexibility you need for fine detail work – like cutting away the fat, gristle and silverskin you don’t want in your meat – and also strong enough at the base to cut through harder parts near the bone.”
Removing silverskin from muscle, Nelson notes, is similar to separating skin from a walleye fillet. “You have to lay the blade down flat and use the flex in it,” he explains. “You can’t use a hunting knife for that. And you can’t use a little whippy knife either. You need that Rapala combination of strength at the base with flexibility and finesse.”
When hunting turkey and grouse, Nelson relies on his 6-inch Soft Grip to cut through vertebrae and legs, as well as delicate trimming. “You don’t want to hack up the rest of the carcass,” he says. “You need the skin intact so the bird doesn’t dry out when it cooks.”