Having been a taxidermist for over 20 years, I long ago quit carrying a large knife for gutting and skinning in the field. I find it just as easy to take care of an animal with either a scalpel knife or a small flexible bladed knife. I have used these for years because they are faster. I get cleaner and more precise cuts, and I can skin an animal clean (no meat on the hide) which makes prepping it for tanning much easier.
A disposable scalpel and its handle are lightweight and packing one with a few extra blades adds only ounces to my pack. A scalpel doesn’t get dull because when it does, you can replace the blade for a perfectly sharp knife. Unfortunately, there is a drawback; there is no protection for the blade. They don’t fold and stuffing them into something only adds weight. Believe me, you don’t want a lose razor blade in your pack.
Fortunately, someone took this idea and turned it into the perfect knife. A few years ago, I got a Havalon knife from a fellow taxidermist. It was basically a foldable knife just like your average pocket knife, with the added benefit of taking replaceable scalpel blades. I was fascinated. It had a bright orange lightweight plastic grip, and I could carry it in my pocket without cutting anything vital.
That first knife I had was slightly heavier than my basic scalpel knife, but the benefits were many. That was several years ago, and Havalon has since improved their product and increased their product line. Now, there is a larger bladed 4-3/8” bladed (boning) knife called the Baracuta Blaze along with the 2-3/4” bladed (skinning) knife the Piranta-Bolt (similar to my original Havalon). These newer models have longer handles, and rubberized grips to keep your hands from slipping, but best of all, they are even lighter than they used to be.
All of the foldable knives are priced in the medium low range and come with a sturdy nylon holster and extra blades. The larger Baracuta Blaze weighs only three ounces, and the Piranta-Bolt only two ounces. That means you can hardly feel them in your pocket, and your arm doesn’t get as tired when you are working over your prize.
For hunters that also butcher your meat (or like to fish) Havalon also has a fillet knife in the Baracuta family. You’ll never have to spend time sharpening your knives again.