Thinking about the best tools for deer hunting? A useful, quality knife should be right at the top of your list
This Hyken Knives™ Lite Hunter proved to be a superb hunting knife.
by Leon Pantenburg
(Disclaimer: Kniveshipfree.com is a SurvivalCommonSense sponsor. Neither KSF, Hyken Knives nor Bark River Knives had any input into this review.)
The hard part about field testing hunting knives is that they should be tried out and used under realistic conditions. That means hunting, and some years, I have not killed anything but time.
The good news is that this year I legally harvested four deer in two states, and got to wring out several quality knives. And I’m not done yet. I hope to take a deer with my flintlock rifle or my .50 caliber Great Plains Rifle during the late primitive weapons season in Mississippi. I’m cutting meat and making jerky today!
My first impression of the Hyken Knives Lite Hunter was that it would be a great hunting knife.
Generally, in a big game hunting knife I want the blade length to be between four and five inches, with a convex grind. The handle has to be comfortable for long term use. It must be safe and secure, even when covered with blood, fish scales or the nauseating goo that is sometimes part of gutting a large animal.
Here are the specifications (Courtesy of Knivesshipfree.com)
|Blade Steel:||CPM-154 Stainless|
|Price:||Starting at $202.46|
The Good Stuff:
Quality workmanship: Bark River Knives™ makes Hyken Knives. I have reviewed several dozen BRs over the years, and I have never received one that didn’t have the highest quality and workmanship.
Handle: I choose desert ironwood for a handle, because it’s beautiful and tough. It also lets me see how much attention to detail has been paid. On a full tang knife, the grain of the wood needs to match up on both sides of the blade. Again, no surprise here. The grain matched perfectly.
My experience with desert ironwood is that it becomes “grippier” when wet or damp. I typically wear cut protective and/or latex gloves when field dressing an animal, and a handle has to be big enough to use comfortably there is little danger of your hand slipping when working inside the abdominal cavity. I didn’t use the Hyken for gutting, since there were other knives ahead of it in the field test queue.
But there were several opportunities to get the handle bloody and slimy, and the handle was great.
Blade design: The design first attracted me to the Lite Hunter. It features my favorite clip point with a long swedge. (My Ambush Tundra is currently my go-to hunting knife.) The Lite Hunter has the longest blade length of the Hyken Knives Lineup.
Steel: The CPM 154 is heat and cryo treated to 60-61RC to provide superior edge holding and corrosion resistance. CPM-154 Stainless was new to me, so I tried different bushcrafting tasks. As a hunting knife, it held an edge very well. If you hunt high humidity areas, like in the deep south, or around areas with sasltwater, this might be the best steel for your knife.
Spine: The edge opposite the cutting edge is ground at a 90 degree angle, like an ice skate. This means you will be able to process tinder, and scrape a ferro rod to create sparks for fire making. I avoid using a knife on a ferro rod whenever possible, but it’s nice to know that option exists.
Sheath: The sheath is made with top quality leather in a handsome Maduro color and it has an integral firesteel loop. The sheath also has an unconditional lifetime warranty.
I like square ends on sheaths – to the casual observer, it looks like a pliers or some other tool is being carried. That is good urban camouflage.
Warranty: Hyken knives come with the Bark River 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. I checked out the customer service several years ago, and there is no hassle.
Made in the USA in Escanaba, Michigan. Support local small businesses, and independent knife makers. These craftspeople produce the quality cutlery we love!
Handles designed for average sized hands usually don’t work all that well for my (glove size) large hands. Over prolonged use, the handle on the Lite Hunter rubbed the inside of my index finger, and it was not comfortable. My right palm measures right at four inches across, and length-wise, the 4.25 inch handle is just right.
That doesn’t mean that those of us with working man hands should disqualify the Lite Hunter. Bark River’s 100 percent satisfaction guarantee applies to handle comfort also, so the company will work with you to get it right.
And one size never fits everybody – take all my comments with a grain of salt, and decide if they apply to your knife needs.
Should the Lite Hunter be your next hunting knife?
It depends on what you want. You aren’t looking for the best survival knife, or the best bushcrafter. For a deer hunter, the Lite Hunter would be about perfect – lightweight, well designed and practical. It can do everything a deer hunter needs.
For the hunter who frequents high humidity areas, such as southern swamps, a stainless steel knife is a good choice.
The practical design, superior materials, and Bark River’s bulletproof warranty may make the Hyken Lite Hunter the best hunting knife choice for you.
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