Preparing Your Trophy for the Taxidermist
A few Easy Steps to Successful Caping of Your Trophy
Many hunters are overwhelmed when it comes to preparing their trophy for the taxidermist. Caping or the removal of the front hide in preparation for mounting is relatively easy as long as you follow these easy steps. The first set of steps is for hunters who are relatively close to the taxidermist and can get the cape over to the shop quickly. The second set of directions is for hunters who are way out at camp and may have to wait a few days to get their trophy to the taxidermist.
About a foot behind the front legs make an incision fully around the chest of the animal.
Lay the animal on its back and from the knee joint of each leg make an incision to the first cut, remember, you are doing this for a mount so make the cuts clean and on the back of the leg. Make a circular cut around the leg, cutting the hide above the knee, around the entire leg.
Carefully remove the hide from the chest and legs of the animal working your way up to the base of the skull.
Measuring 2-3 inches from the base of the skull, sever the spine and remove the head, with attached hide.
Wash away all dirt and blood with water and either get the trophy to the taxidermist or place the cape in a bag and freeze it. Do not place the hide in a plastic bag as this will trap moisture and cause bacteria to grow. A cloth back is best. It is necessary to get the cape to the taxidermist as soon as possible, freezing is only a short-term solution.
Cut a circle around the deer about a foot behind the front legs as in step one above.
From the initial cut make an incision following the backbone all the way up to the base of the skull. From the base of the skull cut a Y with each upper cut leading to the base of the antlers.
Cut around the leg just above the front knees.
Carefully cut away the hide from the chest and shoulders, the front legs and neck.
This next part you really need plenty of light and patience, do not rush, and make sure your knife is sharp. Cut away the cape from the skull; sever the ears as close to the skull as possible. You may use a blunt object to pry the skin away from the antlers. Be careful around the eyes, nose and mouth. In these areas be sure to cut deep enough to leave plenty of skin for the taxidermist to work with.
With the hide now free from the skull and body carefully turn the ears inside out and carefully cut away any cartilage. This is a very difficult job as the skin on the ears is very delicate. Likewise remove as much flesh from the nose and lips as possible. Wipe down the cape down with a clean cloth and thoroughly salt the inside of the cape with noniodozed salt. Place the cape in a nonplastic bag and get it to the taxidermist as soon as possible, any longer than a week and you risk ruining the cape and ultimately the mount.
Remove the antlers from the skull by sawing through he skull and removing both antlers still attached to a small piece of the skull, DON'T cut the antlers themselves, just the skull.
Some Taxidermists prefer to do the caping themselves, if yours does, you are lucky. Either way check with your taxidermist before you go hunting.
Your knife needs to be sharp and a small pocket sharpener can go a long way to helping the caping process.
As you can tell this is a time consuming process, take your time and think before you cut.
Try to make all incisions from the inside of the skin to the out, this way you won't cut any hair off.
Practice makes perfect, try caping out smaller animals before you get your 30 point buck!
Anyone with patience can learn to cape a trophy, just TAKE YOUR TIME!
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