For some reason, I never gave it much thought. Perhaps the excitement and pride I have always felt, harvesting a big game animal, clouded my mind as the knife came out and the “mess” began. That is not until the day I slipped.
I thought that I had just nicked my finger but as the job progressed, so did the pain. It wasn’t until I finished and pulled off my field dressing gloves that I discovered a cut worthy of stitches!
Back at camp, that afternoon, a conversation with my hunting partners started the ball rolling. “If you really think about it, it’s sort of nuts to stick your fingers in there with any sharp knife”, said my Brother Mark. We were both taught how to field dress by a certified hunting instructor, one of the best we’d ever met, our Dad. Dad wasn’t much of a trophy hunter. He loved his venison so cutting up the cape was no big deal for him. He showed us how to guide the knife blade with our fingers so as not to cut the entrails and make easy work of the heart/lungs by cutting straight through the neck and severing the trach.
As the years passed, Dad supplied the venison (as did we) and Brother Mark, Cousin Rich, and I concentrated on trophies. That’s when our methods to the “task at hand” changed. I’ve nicked the stomach a few times and a trophy buck demands a more care to preserve the cape for mounting. Our days of cutting through the neck or up through the brisket where over. I never liked cutting up through the brisket anyway as it always dulled my sharp knife rendering it useless. My technique for removing the heart/lungs included fishing both arms up into the chest cavity, one searching for, finding, and holding the trach, while the other carefully turned and maneuvered the knife into place for the cut. This is the technique that nicked me more than a few times and ultimately led to the bulky bandages that made hunting difficult for the next few weeks.
Did you ever have those nightmares as a kid that it’s the first day of school and you can’t find your class room or can’t remember your locker combination? You know the ones I’m talking about! Mine was that I would somehow break my arm the day before bow season and not be able to draw my bow! I never gave much thought to slicing myself with a knife! Though primarily a bow hunter, I hunt all seasons. If the powers to be ever come up with a “spears” season, I’ll be out there!
That season, 2006, the next deer shot, a plump doe became my Design and Engineering specimen and drawing board for the purpose of studying other methods and ultimately tools, to make field dressing safer and more efficient. For over an hour, sketch pad in hand, I used my design background and design for Six Sigma tools to chart and study the procedure. The resulting tools have been accepted with rave reviews by our local contingent of sporting goods stores as well as the bulk of 400 field trials by the North American Hunting Club members during the 2007 deer and elk seasons. Even the “old timers”, set in their ways, got it and liked it!
They (whoever they are) say “necessity is the mother of invention”. This inventor believes that more than ever as do my fingers!