When you’re going on the hunt for meat, the plan is pretty simple. But hunting animals for meat as well as their hide—to turn it into a mount—requires more precise steps, including the careful preservation of a trophy from the moment it goes down. With that in mind, let’s find out how to care for and prep trophy animals prior to professional taxidermy.
Keep trophies cool
After an animal is taken, keeping the body cool is essential if you are planning on taking it to a taxidermist. Why keep it cool? Because once a trophy has been killed, it begins to deteriorate at a rapid pace when not stored at the proper temperature, in a cold environment. This is especially the case in hotter climates.
Deterioration can pose serious problems with larger trophies, like bears or bucks, or in the remote backcountry where animal bodies might end up rotting if you get lost post-hunt. Take larger coolers along with you to store your meat and your intended trophy. Ideally, a cleaned trophy will go into the freezer as quickly as possible, but when that is not an option, try to keep it as cool as you’re able.
Handle trophies carefully
For animals like birds, carrying hunted animals by the neck can lead to stretching and deformation, causing damage even a taxidermist cannot fix. Carrying a bird this way is easy, especially when out in the field, but doing so can result in considerable challenges when it comes to turning your trophy into an attractive mount. Hunting dogs that are not gentle can also cause unintended damage to animals, such as bent and broken feathers and visible tooth holes in the skin. Instead, find a less invasive way to carry your trophies—in a sturdy ice chest or portable freezer.
Skin and salt your trophy hide
Due to the introduction of bacteria and the possibility of creating irreversible damage to the skin, caping should be a job left to your taxidermist. But for hunts taking place far away from a taxidermy shop, a knowledgeable individual may perform the process of caping and salting a hide—an important step in helping to preserve your trophy in between getting it from the field to the taxidermist.
For animals like deer, careful skinning will help to make the end product beautiful. During this part of the taxidermy process, it is crucial to remove any excess fat and tissue. Salting the hide helps to remove excess moisture and preserve the skin, and this process also helps to tighten follicles around the hairs. Once a hide is salted, do not store it in a plastic bag; instead, keep it in something that breathes, such as a burlap or canvas sack that will allow moisture to escape.
Are you planning an animal trophy hunt? Whether it’s bears, deer, birds, fish or any number of other animals, at Nature’s Design Taxidermy, we offer a number of ways to custom mount your trophies. Call us today for more information or to ask your questions about quality taxidermy.