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Wildlife Arts Taxidermy
 Field Care 
A Quality Mount Begins with Proper Field Care
A Quality Mount Begins with Proper Field Care

Caping, the process of skinning out a trophy animal, is best left to a professional taxidermist. Their experience skinning, especially around the delicate areas, such as nose, mouth, eyes, and ears, is invaluable toward producing a quality mount. Damage to a hide is costly to repair, if repairable at all.

Many trophies are ruined in the first few hours after death; as soon as the animal dies bacteria begins to set in and attack the carcass. Don't let this happen to you! Every taxidermist has a preferred method of caping to preserve properly, call us today and we'll let you know the proper requirements and techniques to handling your kill. 

Skinning Life-size Big Game
Skinning Life-size Big Game

There are two major methods of skinning for a large life-size mount, such as deer, elk, or bear. These methods include the FLAT INCISION and the DORSAL METHOD. 

The flat incision is used for rug mounts and for a variety of poses. These 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. REMEMBER - if you can't take your hide IMMEDIATELY to your taxidermist, freeze it to our specifications. 

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 a shoulder mount. (See caping for a shoulder mount below). Only use this method with approval AND detailed instruction for your taxidermist, AND only use this method when the skin can be frozen quickly after skinning. 

Caping for a shoulder mount  1. With a sharp knife, slit the hide circling the body behind the should 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. (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 (3) inches down from this junction. Circle the neck cutting down to the spinal column. (Figure 3) 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 your 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 cannot add back what he doesn't have. 

   

                 Figure 1                Figure 2A                Figure 2B                       Figure 3

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 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.

Small Mammals
Small Mammals

Animals, coyote sized or smaller, should not be skinned unless by a professional. Do NOT gut the animal. Small mammals, especially carnivores, will spoil quickly because of their thin hide and bacteria. If you can't bring the small game animal to us immediately, wait for the carcass to cool completely and then put it in a plastic bag and freeze it. With rabies evident in many areas of the country take every safety measure necessary when handling your game. 

Birds
Birds

Do not gut the bird. Rinse off any blood on the feathers with water. Take the bird immediately to your 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 birds tail feathers do not fit in the bag, do NOT bend them, just let the tail stick out of the bag and tie the bag loosely.

Tips
Tips

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 a special 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.

These are general instructions that have been copied from other taxidermy sites and is for informational use only. Please check with the Dennis, your Wildlife Arts taxidermist, on how to tend to your kill.

California's CWD Regulation
California's CWD Regulation

* Attention All Out-of-State Hunters *

When returning home with deer and/or elk harvested out of state, hunters must follow California's strict regulations to avoid potentially bringing CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) into our state. The California regulations can be summarized in one phrase: No skull, no backbone.
What this means is that you MUST cape out your animal, take the backbone from your animal and cut the antlers from the skull of your animal before entering the state of California, or, you risk a hefty citation and confiscation of your trophy.

If you are planning on having your animal mounted, I recommend first finding a taxidermist in the area of your hunt, or, someone very competent in removing the cape from your trophy, then tightly roll up the cape (Do Not Salt) and put it in a deer bag or burlap sack (Plastic is okay if cape will immediately be frozen and stay frozen). Freeze if possible or keep refrigerated and dry. Freezing is always the best way to protect your valuable capes. Now, remove the spine yourself or take your animal to a local butcher. Finally, cut the antlers from the skull, leaving enough of the skull plate connected to the antlers making certain they are sturdy enough to avoid breaking, and then clean off all remaining flesh (the person doing the caping can certainly do this as well).

Following these steps should get you across the border without any problems.
Please call me if you have any questions and remember, capes spoil extremely fast if not cared for properly.

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Wildlife Arts Taxidermy
540 Traffic Way
Arroyo Grande, CA 93420
Phone: 805-481-2190
Email: wildlifeartstaxidermy@yahoo.com

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