Field Preparation Instructions
A quality mount begins with proper field care. Please follow the instructions below to ensure that your trophy is in optimum condition for Nature’s Design Taxidermy 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. Contact us in Cody, WY if you have any further questions.
- With deer on its back make a shallow cut through the skin just below the breastbone. make sure that you start your cut well away from the brisket allowing plenty of uncut skin for your shoulder mount. Insert two fingers of the free hand, cradling the blade, to hold the skin up and away from the entrails. (Figure A.)
- Cut straight down the belly and around the genitals, separating but not severing them from the abdominal wall. Slit the belly skin all the way to the pelvic bone. (Figure B.)
- Cut deeply around the rectum, being careful not to cut off or puncture the intestine. Pull to make sure the rectum is separated from the tissue connecting it to the pelvic canal. Pull the rectum out and tie string tightly around it to prevent droppings from touching the meat. Lift the animal’s back quarter a bit, reach into the front of the pelvic canal, and pull the intestine and connected rectum into the stomach area.
- If you want to make a full shoulder mount, do not cut open the chest cavity. Cut the diaphragm away from the ribs all of the way to the backbone area. Reach into the forward chest cavity, find the esphagus and windpipe, cut them off as far up as possible (Figure C.) and pull them down through the chest.
- Roll the deer onto its side, grab the esophagus with one hand and the rectum/intestine with the other. Pull hard. The deer’s internal organs will come out in one big package with a minimum of mess.
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.
Skinning Lifesize Big Game
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 (cuting the feet free from the carcass) and pull the skin off of the carcass. The head is detached as with the shoulder mount.
The Dorsal Method
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.
Caping for a Shoulder Mount
- 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 leg and joining the body cut behind the legs (Figures 2A & 2B)
- 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 in mounting. Remember, the taxidermist can cut off excess hide but he 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 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.
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 cannot be mounted unless with a specific Federal permit.
- For situations 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