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.)
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.
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 esophagus
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.
trophies are ruined in the first few hours after death. As soon as the
animal dies, bacteria begin 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
Skinning life-size Big Game
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
The Flat Incision
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 of the carcass. The
head is detached as with the shoulder mount.
The Dorsal Method
dorsal method of skinning involves a long slit down the back (from the
back of the head down to the tail) and up the back of each leg stopping
at just above the knees and the hocks. The carcass is skinned as it is
pulled through the incision. The feet/hooves and the head are cut off
from the carcass. 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
2.Peel the skin forward up to the ears and jaw exposing the head/neck junction. (Figure 3) Cut into
neck 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. With the hide open allow to cool for about thirty minutes. 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.
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.
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.
not gut the bird. Rinse off any blood on the feathers with water. Take
the bird immediately to your taxidermist or freeze it. Use nylon
stocking to hold the feathers in place, start at the head and work
towards the tail going with the feather. This will make the feathers lie
down and help prevent damage of feathers. 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.
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.
A fish will lose 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. As many
photos as possible is always the best, general overall photos, close ups
of head, fins, tail, any color abnormalities, ect.
Always have appropriate tags with your trophies when you take them to your taxidermist. Do not cut the ears for attachment.
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
This information is provided courtesy of McKenzie Taxidermy Supply – 2008.
Edited by Blair Artworks - 2011
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