Wearing some kind of protection for your hands is just smart when dealing with a sharp knife and slippery fish. The new style rubber-coated gloves are inexpensive and work great for cleaning fish and many other tasks in the outdoors. (Photo courtesy Rob Phillips)

Today’s topic: gloves. Now, before you blow by to go read Pat Muir’s entertainment musings, or the obituaries, let me tell you, yes, this one could be a snoozer. But, if you’d like to hear a few uneducated ramblings about the things we wear to protect some of the most important items on our bodies, well, read on, please.

I decided to write about gloves after filleting two Columbia River sockeye salmon a bit ago. I use a very sharp fillet knife, and if I wasn’t wearing gloves, I might be in the emergency room right now receiving stitches to close up an ugly laceration. But, luckily I was wearing gloves. Crisis averted.

For many years when I was cleaning and preparing fish for the barbecue or freezer, I wore a mesh fillet glove. There are several types of fillet gloves, most featuring a chain-mail style design with super-strong materials that are cut resistant. They are not bullet-proof, but over the years they have saved me a lot of heartache and bloodshed.

I still have one of those gloves in my boat somewhere. But more recently I have been using a pair of work gloves when I am dealing with fresh fish. Have you seen all the styles of work gloves nowadays? Technology has landed in the protection of our digits, and it’s not just to keep our hands warm or dry. This new style work glove is a rubber-coated knit and they are excellent for cleaning, filleting and cutting up fish.

The rubber coating makes them great for holding on to slippery fish, and, while they may not be quite as good as a special fillet glove at battling the slip of a knife, I have yet to cut myself while wearing these gloves.

I learned about how handy the gloves were from my buddy Doug Jewett. He’s been using them for several years when he works on his fish. Doug’s not quite as injury prone as I am, but I know he’s told me a couple of different times the gloves saved him a cut hand or finger.

Last fall, after I left the quarters of my mule deer buck out in the hanging shed and it dropped to minus 10 degrees overnight, I had quite a chore ahead of me in getting the deer meat off the bone, as is required by Washington State before bringing any venison into the state from Montana.

Don’t tell the motel people, but I first took the deer quarters into my room where they thawed somewhat (they were in black plastic garbage bags), and as I thought about working on the frozen meat, I realized my hunting gloves weren’t going to--wait for it--cut it.

So, I made a quick run to the hardware store and bought a pair of the rubber gloves described above. They were perfect for the task of handling the meat. My hands stayed somewhat warm and the rubber helped control the deboning of the meat. And best of all, the gloves cost $5.

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Those gloves I used on the mule deer last November are the exact same gloves I used on the sockeye. Not the exact same style, but the exact same gloves. After getting a thorough cleaning in the dishwasher, they were good to go.

Now, those of you who know me know I can be a bit thrifty at times. Yes, I could have, and probably should have, just tossed the gloves in the garbage after working on the deer meat. But, why not clean them and use them again?

I have used those same gloves pruning the roses and the plum trees. And, when I need a little extra grip I have used them in some irrigation repair around the place. Frankly, it may have been the best five dollars I have ever spent. Especially when you consider the cost of an emergency room visit to suture a wound. They’ve paid for themselves a hundred times over.

I have an old well-used pair of leather gloves that I like a lot for doing yard work and stuff around the place, but since I’ve discovered the new rubber-coated gloves, the leather gloves have seen very little use.

If you google rubber-coated work gloves there will be dozens of options that pop up, including some that can be used in extreme cold and other harsh environments. I’m sure they are quite good too. But for me the five dollar pair purchased almost nine months ago have worked just fine.

I keep thinking I need to grab a new pair when I’m at the hardware store, but I keep forgetting. In the meantime, the ones I have now seem to just keep on working, around the house, in the yard, out on the water and in the meat-hanging shed.

What else can you buy for the cost of a fancy cup of coffee that will literally save your fingers? Get a pair for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. Now, on to Mr. Muir, or the death notices.

Rob Phillips is an award-winning freelance outdoor writer who has written the Northwest Sportsman column for over 25 years. He can be reached at rob1@spdandg.com