Updated Essentials: Kill Kit
When I was a kid growing up in Florida, I was your typical country boy who loved to fish, hunt, and trap. Surprisingly, my parents never once took me camping so I was only left with my imagination and outdoor magazines about gear and equipment for adventures. One of my favorite nouns to this day is “kit”. Having a kit meant that everything you needed to be prepared for a certain task is neatly organized within one central location or container. My first kit was a First Aid Kit around age 7. I was prepared for any medical emergency as I would spend, what seemed like hours, taking everything out and reorganizing for the next adventure. Today, it’s no different. I still get excited about kits. I’m constantly tweaking each one so that there’s no fluff, lack of efficiency, or extra unnecessary weight.
My favorite kit is my Kill Kit. This will be essential when you’ve made a well-placed, ethical shot on that buck, and he expires before he hits the ground. All of the required equipment should be kept in one organizational gear bag (i.e. IA Pack Sacks).
Below, I detail a few of the most important items in the Kill Kit.
Organizational Gear Bag
I use either our medium or large IA Pack Sack depending on the hunt. These are the handiest gear bags on the market being lightweight and having “see-thru mesh” to easily identify it’s contents.
There are a couple of choices in knife styles here that are most common: 1) Fixed Blade 2) Replaceable Blade. I like to carry both.
First, fixed blade knives are very strong, very sharp, and can easily pry under joints and bones quite aggressively. You don’t ever have to worry about the blade or knife breaking while in the heat of field dressing your animal. You also work with the same blade every time without having to replace it. On the other hand, you must sharpen this blade. I use the Goat Knives Nitro Tur fixed blade knife. I always have it around my neck.
The second style is a replaceable blade knife. These are typically very lightweight and come with multiple removable, ultra-sharp surgical blades. These easily slice through whatever you want to cut with precision and make quick work of any animal. You also never have to sharpen these. When they become dull, you simply replace the blade with a new one. However, most will break if you try to pry anything. It’s happened to me numerous times in the field usually when I get in a hurry. You must be careful when replacing blades as well when you have blood and animal fat on your hands. I currently use the Goat Knives Capra Hunter Ti replaceable blade knife. This is my go-to knife for field dressing.
I typically bring two pairs of latex gloves. It’s not a must, but it’s very difficult to get your hands cleaned of blood and fat after processing an animal. It sometimes takes a day or two unfortunately. Another reason is if you have any tiny cuts or lesions on your hands, you want to keep any nasties that could be present within the animal away from you and your immune system.
I always like to carry 50’ of paracord because you never know when you’ll need it. You can use it for all kinds of things, but let’s stick to how it relates to the process of field dressing. There are two main reasons for needing paracord when breaking down an animal: using it to help hold legs open while field dressing solo and using it to help hang the quarters from a tree limb or meatpole. Some game bags now have drawstrings made of paracord for the latter use. One can also use it to attach game bags of meat to horses or a bike for transport out of the backcountry.
Wet wipes are always great to have for everything from cleaning up the animal for a proper picture to wiping your knife blades clean.
This is one of the most important items in the Kill Kit. There are many types of game bags out there and I won’t talk about them all. In fact, I’m going to talk about what I like to use in a good game bag. This is one of the items on which I don’t mind spending money. Most of the time, I leave the meat on the bone, but I am not opposed to boning it out if I’m way back by myself. I have recently started using lightweight “bone out” game bags by Grakksaw. An entire set is less than 7 oz.
Next, they must be reusable and washable. I don’t want to worry about buying new throwaways all the time. The seams need to be bonded or surged for strength and durability. Last but not least, they should be breathable. They must be able to keep dirt and bugs off, but they absolutely must be breathable. We sure don’t want to work that hard harvesting, caring for, and packing out an animal to have the meat compromised by a poor selection of game bags. Some bags even have antimicrobial properties.
Contractor Bag and/or Synthetic Drop Cloth
Your thinking, “Why would I take both?” I always take a contractor bag because it’s so handy for all kinds of uses. My number one is to use it as a pack liner and keep blood off of me and my pack. You can use it as makeshift rain gear, keeping essential gear in a dry environment, or even a doormat for you tent. Some use it as a drop cloth to keep meat clean while you’re processing but it’s hard to do this and then depend on it as a pack liner to keep blood off of you. That is the reason for bringing the synthetic drop cloth. (However, you could easily take two contractor bags.) Use Tyvek (cheap and light), a Ripstop drop cloth, or even a Dyneema drop cloth to keep meat clean. It’s up to you but definitely something to think about.
- Sharp Knives (1 fixed and 1 replaceable blade)
- 50 ft of paracord
- 2 pair Rubber gloves (for keeping hands clean)
- Good quality, light-weight game bags
- A contractor-sized garbage bag
- Synthetic drop cloth
- Wet wipes
- Tags/License (should always be with the kill kit or in a specific single pocket of your pack)
Before you go out on your next hunt, do yourself a favor and make sure you’ve gotten your Kill Kit in order. It’s so much easier if it’s all in one location in a gear bag (Pack Sack) and placed in your pack where it can be easily found.