Field Care Tips at the Frontier Taxidermy Website
Field Care Tips
1. 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).
2. 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 pelvic bone (Figure B.)
3.Cut deeply around the rectum, being careful
not to cut off or puncture the intestine. Pull to make sure the rectum
is separated fro 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
|4. If you want to make a full shoulder
mount, do not cut open the chest cavity. Cut the diaphragm away from the
ribs all 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. 5. 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
their 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
simple can not 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 hunt in order to get instructions on their caping requirements.
However, the following techniques are generally acceptable.
Skinning Life-Size Big Game
There are two major methods of skinning for large
life size mount such as deer, elk or bear. These methods are the flat incision
and dorsal method.
The Flat Incision
The flat incision is used for rug mounts and for
a variety of poses. The ar3eas to be cut are shown in Figure 1. Make these
slits (cutting the feet free from the carcass) and pull the skin off 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 into the neck) The carcass is skinned
as it is pulled through this incision. The feet /hooves and the head are
cut off from the carcass as with shoulders mount explained later. Only
use this method with approval and detailed instruction from your taxidermist.
Use this method only when the skin can be frozen quickly after skinning.
|Note: If you Can't take your hide
immediately to a taxidermist, freeze it to your taxidermist's specifications.
Flat Incision Illustration
for a shoulder mount
1. 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 legs
(Figure 2A and 2B). 2. 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
fro the taxidermist to work with mounting. Remember, the taxidermist can
cut off excess hide but 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 deer out of the woods
with a rope. Place it on a sled, rickshaw, or 4-wheeler. The rope, rocks
or a broken branch from a deadfall can easily damage the fur or puncture
the hide. If you 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 mammals,
especially carnivores, will spoil quickly because of their thin hide and
bacteria. If you can't take the small game animal immediately to a taxidermist,
as soon as the carcass cools completely, put in in a plastic bag and freeze
it. 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 and blood on the
feathers with water. Take the bird immediately to you 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 can not 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 be kept in the freezer for months. Note: a fish will loose 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.
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 can not be mounted unless with special Federal permit. · For
situation 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.
NOTE: 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.
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