Taking Care Of Number One

Watch-Out Situations
1) Using a dull knife. See a theme here? Don’t be tempted to use more pressure and muscle. Use a sharp blade and let it do the work. Either take some extra time to resharpen the blade, or consider using a Havalon-type knife (with replaceable blades) for surgical sharpness and convenience.

The end of the field dressing process has potential for injury. Your knife might be dull and you're fatigued, so take a break and touch up the edge of your blade.

2) Working with others. It can be more efficient to have someone pull hide and hold legs while you work – or even using their own blade on a different part of the animal - but know that this increases the chance of an accident, too. Use good communication and keep it slow and safe. I like bright orange-handled knives, as they are easier to keep track of for myself and others when working on game.

3) Skinning around horns and antlers. This can be tricky and tedious. I’ve seen more nicks and small cuts from this than probably any other part of game care. Using a sharp knife is imperative. Also, avoid the temptation to pry skin away from horns and antlers. Use a multi-tool to hold the skin and cut with the opposite hand. Some hunters also carry a screwdriver to pry the hide away from the base of the antler rather than flexing a knife blade.

4) Skinning legs. This is another time when blades and technique are tested. Thinner skin along the long bones in the lower legs requires a careful approach and some patience in order to avoid blade slippage and the chance of accidental cuts and lacerations.

5) Fatigue. This can make us lazy when it comes to safety. The point when you know you’re getting tired is exactly the time to be extra cautious and aware of the blade.

First Aid Supplies For Lacerations
1) Antibiotic ointment before bandaging. Use with caution, as this can result in a reddening rash in some people, which may cause it to appear like it isn't healing well.

2) Clean/sterile packed dressing of a couple different sizes. Clean cotton material such as t-shirts could be substituted if nothing else is available. Use caution with soiled garments to avoid introducing bacteria into the wound.

3) Cloth medical tape or self-adhering stretch bandage tape to keep the clean dressing in place. Immobilize the wound area if possible to avoid aggravating the injury.

4) Ibuprofin/Advil for pain relief and to reduce inflammation. Just a couple can take the edge off a very painful injury.

5) Alternate items that some hunters also carry include superglue to shore up smaller cuts, QuikClot, and small splints to immobilize fingers, etc.