Taxidermy Field Care
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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 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.
|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 areas 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
Flat Incision Illustration
Caping 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 for 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
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.
©2000 McKenzie Taxidermy Supply