We all learned to dress a deer from somebody else, whether it was a parent or the person who wrote the guide for our hunter safety course. Proper field preparation is important for keeping your trophy kill in taxidermy-worthy condition, and is also a crucial skill to know to make sure there is no bacterial contamination of the meat.
To get started, what you’ll need, besides the deer, is a sharp knife, at least four or five inches long, with a really good guard. Another knife with a saw edge or a little bone saw can also make things easier.
Prep the deer
For the first part of the dressing, you’ll need the deer on its back. If you can, prop it up by putting some big stones beneath its hips and shoulders, where the head is slightly higher than the rear, if possible.
You’ll want to make a shallow cut from the breastbone to the bottom of the pelvic bone, cutting around the genitals. Cut shallow enough to just cut the skin at first, then pull it away from the muscle layer so you can see what you’re doing for the next cut.
To cut through the muscle layer, face the blade upward, and follow the same line you cut when cutting through the skin, from pelvic bone to breastbone. If you use two fingers from your other hand to steady the blade and work those fingers into the cut as you make it, you can lift the muscle layer, which can make it easier to make the cut without cutting into the entrails. You’ll also want to cut up through the cartilage center of the breastbone. This is where a saw-edged knife or a bone saw would come in handy. If you don’t have one, be especially careful at this step.
Next you want to cut a hole around the anus, careful not to cut into the rectum or nick the intestines, and once you’ve worked the anus free, tie a string tightly around it to keep waste from spilling into the animal’s exposed body cavity. Nobody wants that. Now cut out the windpipe as far up the neck as you can without damaging the neck. Pull the windpipe as hard as is required to remove the entrails down to the middle of the animal. If you can’t just pull them out, reach behind them and cut the tissue that holds them to the back of the animal.
Next, you’ll want to cut the diaphragm, which is a thin muscle that helps hold the rest of the entrails to the ribs. Then grab the entrails with both hands and yank them out.
If you’re after a shoulder mount instead of a head mount, cut only as far as the bottom of the breastbone, cut into the chest area through the diaphragm, cut the windpipe and remove the contents of the chest cavity through the lower gut.
Learn more about taxidermy service in Cody, WY
You need to get your deer carcass to your taxidermy service as quickly as possible for the rest of the process. Make sure to carefully follow this guide, as any damage done to the animal during prep cannot be easily fixed. If you cannot get your animal to your taxidermist quickly, make sure to ask them about their animal-freezing specifications.
If you’re looking for a taxidermy service in Cody, WY, look no further than Natures Design Taxidermy. We have an abundance of experience with animals both familiar and exotic, and produce the most lifelike trophies around. Give us a call today, and let’s talk trophies!