Caping for a shoulder mount
1. With a sharp knife slit the hide circling the body behind the shoulder at approximately the mid-way point of the rib cage behind the front legs. Slit the skin around the legs just above the knees. An additional slit will be needed from the back of the legs (Figure 2A and 2B).
2. Peel the skin forward up to the ears and jaw exposing the head / neck junction. Cut into the neck approximately three inches down from this junction, Circle the neck cutting down to the spinal column. After this cut is complete, grasp the antler bases and twist the head off the neck. This should allow the hide to be rolled up and put in a freezer until transported to the taxidermist. These cuts should allow ample hide for the taxidermist to work with mounting. Remember, the taxidermist can cut off excess hide but can't add what he doesn't have.
Note: When field dressing a trophy to be mounted, don't cut into the brisket (chest) or neck area if blood gets on the hide to be mounted, wash it off with snow or water as soon as possible. Also avoid dragging the deer out of the woods with a rope. Place it on a sled, rickshaw, or 4-wheeler. The rope, rocks or a broken branch from a deadfall can easily damage the fur or puncture the hide. If you need to drag it out with a rope, attach the rope to the base of the antlers and drag your trophy carefully.
Skinning Life-Size Big Game
There are two major methods of skinning for large life size mount such as deer, elk or bear. These methods are the flat incision and dorsal method.
The Flat Incision
The flat incision is used for rug mounts and for a variety of poses. The areas to be cut are shown in Figure 1. Make these slits (cutting the feet free from the carcass) and pull the skin off the carcass. The head is detached as with the shoulder mount.
Note: If you Can't take your hide immediately to a taxidermist, freeze it to your taxidermist's specifications.
The Dorsal Method
The dorsal method of skinning involves a long slit down the back (from the tail base up into the neck) The carcass is skinned as it is pulled through this incision. The feet /hooves and the head are cut off from the carcass as with shoulders mount explained later. Only use this method with approval and detailed instruction from your taxidermist. Use this method only when the skin can be frozen quickly after skinning
Animals, coyote sized or smaller, should not be skinned unless by a professional. Don't gut the animal. Small mammals, especially carnivores, will spoil quickly because of their thin hide and bacteria. If you can't take the small game animal immediately to a taxidermist, as soon as the carcass cools completely, put in in a plastic bag and freeze it. With the epidemic of rabies evident in many areas of the country take every safety measure necessary when handling your game
Do not gut the bird. Rinse off and blood on the feathers with water. Take the bird immediately to you taxidermist or freeze it. Put the bird into a plastic bag for freezing being careful not to damage the feathers, including the tail. If the bird's tail feathers do not fit in the bag do not bend them. Let the tail stick out of the bag and tie the bag loosely.
Do not gut your fish. If you can not take your fish immediately to a taxidermist, wrap it in a very wet towel and put it in a plastic bag, making sure all the fins are flat against the fish's body (to prevent breakage), and freeze it. A fish frozen with this method can be kept in the freezer for months. Note: a fish will loose its coloration shortly after being caught. A good color photograph immediately after the catch may enable the taxidermist to duplicate the natural color tones of that particular fish.
Always have appropriate tags with your trophies when you take them to your taxidermist. Do not cut the ears for attachment. • Songbirds, Eagles, Hawks, and Owls are protected by Federal Law and can not be mounted unless with special Federal permit. • For situation where you are hunting with no available taxidermist or freezer, ask your taxidermist about techniques to skin out the entire cape (including the head) and salting the hide. This is the only method in remote locations that can preserve your hide for later mounting.
NOTE: Because of the various diseases that wild game can transmit to humans, always use extreme caution when handling the carcass. Use rubber or latex gloves and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after handling.
©2000 McKenzie Taxidermy Supply