Josh Smith, master bladesmith at Montana Knife Company, holds his best deer boning knife after a hunt.

The Only 3 Knives I Use During Bow Season

Bow season requires specialized knives that can handle a variety of tasks. Here are my three go-to knives, including the best deer boning knife.

Bow season calls for specialized knives that can handle a wide range of large and small animals. When you're preparing to go out into the field, you want to pack blades that are versatile, durable, portable, and comfortable to use over several days, including the best deer boning knife.

I've been bow hunting for years, and you may be surprised to learn that there are only three blades I use. In this post, I'll explain what they are, what they’re for, and how they can help you during your next hunt.

The Blackfoot

In a general, roundabout circumstance, my go-to bow season knife is always the Blackfoot. It may be my best deer boning knife.

Why? It's a versatile blade that, from my personal experience, can process just about any size animal. It has a hard, sturdy handle. It's lightweight but durable enough to do anything I need it to do — gut, skin, cape, and so on.

There's a reason the Blackfoot is the model I used to launch the Montana Knife Company. I made it with the idea that, while it may not be absolutely perfect for every job, it can do just about everything. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of hunting knives.

When it comes to choosing an all-around knife, there are several factors I keep in mind. What animals will I be hunting? What size blade will I need? How many days will I be out in the field? If I’m going out for just a few days and won't be starting fires, I won’t pack a heavy-duty survival knife meant for chopping firewood.

The weight of the blade is also a consideration. During archery season, I cover a lot of ground. I'm not sitting in a tree stand — I'm moving, calling, spotting and stalking. I don’t want a blade that’s heavy and bulky, and I don’t want to have to carry multiple knives. I want a single knife for the animal I’m hunting, from breaking it down to caping out the hide.

Personally, I carry my Blackfoot on my backpack strap, where it’s most handy and accessible. I've also seen hunters carry the Blackfoot in a vinyl harness on a belt or inside of a pack.

The Speedgoat

When I want to cut down on the ounces I'm carrying during archery season, I use the Speedgoat. Some of the hunters I've met prefer it over the Blackfoot — I don't blame them! This knife is perfect for someone who wants to keep their bow hunting experience physically light.

Like the Blackfoot, the Speedgoat can handle just about anything. It can cape, gut, skin, bone out a deer or elk, and so on. It's a do-it-all kind of blade that’s perfect when you only want to use one knife for an entire job, and it can handle anything I bow hunt, not just in Montana, but everywhere else in the United States.

I particularly love the versatility of the paracord on the handle. It can be used to fix a boot lace, guy out a tent, hang meat in a tree, tie up meat on a pack, etc. Your imagination is the limit.

Even though it’s ultralight, the Speedgoat has enough of a handle that it won't badly wear out your hands. Too often, I see ultralight knives with no cord, no wrap, no handle, nothing, so that after only a couple hours of use, it starts to feel as though it’s wearing a hole in your hand. The Speedgoat was designed so that this will never be an issue.

One of my favorite reviews I've received on a product came from a Speedgoat buyer. He shared that he once used the Speedgoat to process six deer, one right after the other, and his hand felt great afterwards. If you're looking for a light, comfortable blade that can handle six deer in a row, the Speedgoat is your knife.

The Stonewall

The third and final knife I use during bow season is the Stonewall, which is more of a skinning-style blade. It's thicker and more durable than the Blackfoot or the Speedgoat, and thanks to its large, sturdy handle, it’s perfect for hunters with bigger hands.

Simply put, the Stonewall has more blade to do more work. It’s a great knife for someone who needs a heavy-duty blade to hunt moose or elk. It's got a little bit less of a tip and more of a skinner-style blade that's perfect for large hides.

Even though it's big enough to break down large animals, the Stonewall is small enough to carry without being cumbersome. For instance, I carry it easily on my shoulder strap, where I carry all my knives.

Infographic: The Only 3 Knives I Use During Bow Season

Your Best Deer Boning Knife Should Be Designed Based on Experience

In designing these knives, I drew from my own history as a deer and elk hunter. Every one is purpose-driven and created with certain jobs, hunts, and animal processes in mind.

Some knifemakers design knives at random and hope buyers will figure out a use for them. MKC will never do that. We make each and every one of our knives to accomplish a specific task. It's up to you, the hunter, to determine which blade is your best deer boning knife based on the needs of your hunt and the makeup of your own body.


by Josh Smith, Master Bladesmith and Founder of Montana Knife Company