When I am hunting, I often find myself alone in the field and when success comes my way, meat retrieval becomes a solo responsibility. In my younger years it was a reality to simply field dress and pack out entire deer-size animals on my back, but now what comes out of the field is nothing but pure meat. To accomplish that assignment, one knife stands out above all the rest, the Jaeger by Knives of Alaska.
The Jaeger is designed specifically for the separation of big game muscle tissue (meat) from skeletal structure (bone) and can handle anything from deer to moose. The straight 3-1/2-inch blade is crafted from D2 tool steel (carbon 1.55%, chromium 12.00%, molybdenum 0.80%, vanadium 0.90% and silicon 0.30%) and has a Rockwell harness value of Rc 59-60.
D2 blade steel offers excellent abrasion and wear resistance (toughness) due to the high volume of carbides in the microstructure. The straight Jaeger blade pattern has just enough flexibility to work well in cramped quarters, while still offering enough stiffness for extended incisions completely through large sections of muscle tissue. While D2 is not quite as rust resistant as other blade steels that have a higher chromium content, it is considered “semi-stainless” and requires only minimal care to remain free from corrosion and staining.
The Jaeger handle scales on the standard knife model (a stag handled model is available at added cost) are made from “Suregrip,” a synthetic material that provides both comfort and control. Moreover, the scales are finger sculptured so they contour to any individual finger grip configuration. The handle scales will not chip or crack, even if the knife is accidentally dropped and bodily fluids (blood, stomach acid, etc.) will not affect the synthetic material. A brass eyelet is inserted at the terminal end of the handle for those who want to add their own lanyard through this grommet.
This knife comes with an 100% American, vegetable tanned, oiled split cowhide leather sheath, which hangs on the belt at a 45-degree angle for added carrying comfort. However, my preference is to carry the knife in the sheath within my pack. On the belt or in your pack, which ever is selected, the sheath provides complete blade edge protection. And the tanned, oiled surface of the sheath offers extended protection to the leather should it become exposed to inclement weather. That protection can be continued with the occasional application of any leather conditioning product.
Not only have I used this knife to bone-out animals in the field, it has also been my “go to” butcher knife for home meat cutting chores. When it comes to filleting meat from the bone, cutting chops and steaks, or even mincing stew meat, the Jaeger cuts with ease and precision. When it comes to sharpening, the blade pattern makes edge reestablishment a simple matter, either directly on abrasive stone or with an electric-powered sharpener.
While the blade holds a solid edge, butchering requires some contact with hard surfaces, necessitating the need to touch-up the edge from time-to-time. However, little more than just an occasional use of a sharpener and you are ready to continue the job. Overall, blade edge retention with the Jaeger is excellent. And for those who are capable of handling both field butchering, as well as head skin removal (trophy work), the Jaeger also is available in a combination sheath with either of two different blade pattern (Bear Cub or Muskrat) scalpel size caping knives.
The Jaeger boning knife has been a constant companion for more than 30 years and it has never failed to be fully capable, no matter what animal I have to deal with. To me, the knife is an important component of my own personal hunting gear and the tool that allows me to continue pursuing big game well beyond the limits.–Durwood Hollis