The Buck Knives 537 Open Season Guthook Pro knife is an absolute workhorse. While I have limited experience cleaning, skinning, and quartering game, this knife was the only blade I needed to break down two deer during my last hunting trip. Afterwards, it was still sharp enough to slice paper easily.
I think this knife is really well designed for this purpose. The knife is easy to grip even when covered in game. The steel was amazingly sharp and retained its edge through the two deer it broke down. No other blades were needed and it didn’t require any resharpening. Honestly, I was thoroughly impressed.
The only complaint, if you can call it a complaint, I have with the design is that the gut hook tends to snag during retraction when knife is used to pierce or puncture something. However, I believe this is a universal complaint for all knives with a gut hook along the spine.
I’m not crazy about the sheath it comes with. While it appears to be a quality leather sheath, I just don’t particularly care for the belt loop vertical hang style. For a fixed blade knife of this size (about 4.5″ blade length) I’d rather have a sheath that allows me to attach to my pack. For a moment I thought about getting an Armatus Carry kydex sheath which could be attached to a belt horizontally in a scout carry configuration or attached to my pack, but now I’m considering putting this in a knife roll. To be honest, I’m not sure how I would like to carry this knife around yet.
By now it should be clear that I really like this knife for breaking down game. However, the street price of $140 can be a little steep for frugal, budget conscious folks. As it turns out that Buck Knives offers another knife with the exact same design but at half the price. That knife is the 536 Open Season Guthook knife. The price break comes along with a less expensive blade steel (420HC), handle (DymaLux), and sheath (polyester) materials. While the 537 materials (S35VN steel, Micarta handles, and leather sheath) are higher quality, the 536 materials will get the job done. It may just need to be sharpened a little more frequently.
Given I’m really happy with this knife, I won’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is looking for a skinning knife.