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 hunt in order to get instructions on their caping requirements. However, the following techniques are generally acceptable.
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, at the color change in the hair. 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 six inches down from this junction. Circle the neck cutting down to the spinal column. After this cut is complete, grasp the antler bases and cut 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 water as soon as possible. Also avoid dragging the deer out of the woods.
Animals, coyote sized or smaller, should not be skinned unless by a professional. Don’t gut the animal. if you can’t take the small game animal immediately to a taxidermist, put it in a plastic bag and freeze it.
Do not gut the bird. Rinse off 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 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 taken 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. 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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