A quality mount begins with proper field care. Please follow the instructions below to ensure that your trophy is in optimum condition for us to work with. We have also included a .pdf file of the same material for easy printing if you would like to take the information with you on your hunting trip.
Caping, the process of skinning out a trophy animal, is best left to the taxidermist. Their experience skinning, especially the delicate nose, mouth, eyes, and ears is invaluable toward producing a quality mount. Damage to a hide is costly to repair. Some types of damage simply cannot be "fixed" by the taxidermist.
Many trophies are ruined in the first few hours after death. As soon as the animal dies, bacteria begins to attack the carcass. Warm, humid weather accelerates bacteria growth. In remote areas, or areas not near your taxidermist, a competent person may be required to cape out the hide in order to preserve it.
Every taxidermist has a preferred method of caping a hide. Contact your taxidermist prior to your hunting in order to get instructions on their caping requirements. However, the following techniques are generally acceptable.
There are two major methods of skinning for a large life-size mount such as deer, elk, or bear. These methods are the flat incision and the dorsal method.
The Flat Incision
THe dorsal method of skinning involves a long slit down the back (from the tail base up to the neck). The carcass is skinned as it is pulled through the incision. The feet/hooves and the head are cut off from the carcass as with a shoulder mount explained later. Only use this method with the approval and detailed instructions from your taxidermist. Use this method only when the skin can be frozen quickly after skinning.
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 animal out of the woods with a rope. Place it on a sled, rickshaw, or 4-wheeler. The rope, rocks, or broken branches from a dead fall can easily damage the fur or puncture the hide. If you do need to drag it out with a rope, attach the rope to the base of the antlers and drag your trophy carefully.
Animals, coyote sized or smaller, should not be skinned unless by a professional. Don't gut the animal. Small animals, especially carnivores, will spoil quickly because of their thin hide. If you can't take the small game animal immediately to a taxidermist, put it in a plastic bag and freeze it as soon as the carcass cools completely. 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 any blood on the feathers with water. Take the bird immediately to your 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 cannot 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 safely be kept in the freezer for months.
Note: A fish will lose its coloration shortly after being caught. A good color photograph immediately after the catch may eneable 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.
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.
This information is provided courtesy of McKenzie Taxidermy Supply - 2008