Field preparation of your trophy or specimen should be your top priority. Accurate measuring and photographic notes in the field are very important to ensure the correct size and an accurate, natural appearance of the finished mount.
» Remove as much fat and meat from the hide as possible.
» Put the hide in the freezer with the hide open up or rolled loosely. As the hide starts to freeze, wrap it in an airtight plastic bag. Have the head rolled up into the outside of the skin, because it makes it the longest to freeze and thaw. Place hide into two heavy plastics bag. Freeze solid or bring it to the taxidermist right away.
Animals For Rug Work
When making skinning incisions, do identical cuts. Start cutting from the anal vent, up the center of the belly and chest, and ending at the throat. Next cut from the center of the pad of the front foot down the back of the leg meeting your center cut on the chest. Repeat on the other front leg. Then start at the rear heel cutting down to the anal vent. Repeat on the other leg.
Game Heads and Shoulder Mounts
» Clean off excess blood.
When skinning leave plenty of hide for a shoulder mount, especially at the brisket. Cut off the hide several inches behind the front legs and 90 degrees to the back. If uncertain leave the complete hide intact. Excess can be trimmed off but can’t be put back on.
If possible let the taxidermist skin the head areas. This area can be tough to do without damaging the cape.
If you can’t get the specimen to the taxidermist within 12 hours and the temperature is over 50 degrees it must be kept in a cooler or freezer.
» Do not cut the throat of the animal or tag the animal by cutting a slot in the ear.
» Never cut the throat of the animal. It’s just an old myth that started years ago and serves no purpose. It bleeds out when gutted and can spoil the look of the finished mount.
» Never leave the animal lying on the ground. If it can’t be skinned out right away, prop the animal up with chunks of wood so the air can circulate underneath and cool the body down quicker. This may help prevent hair slippage caused by bacteria and warm temperatures.
» Never hang the animal with a rope around the head or feet. This causes rope burns on the skin and kinks the hair, leaving a possible permanent mark on the finished mount.
» Never drag the animal. This can cause the hair to be pulled out and rubbed off.
» Never go for a headshot. It could ruin your trophy and break the antlers or horns.
» Never cut a slot in the ear to tag an animal intended for mounting. Refer to tagging regulations for other areas to attach the tag.
» If possible, take a colored photograph of the fish. The coloration of the fish can vary dramatically throughout the year, and from one body of water to another. There are also coloration changes of certain species even in the same body of water.
» Inspect the fish for bad spots, scars, or missing scales. Then let the taxidermist know so they can decide on positioning and show off the best side of the fish.
» Get the fish wrapped and on ice or frozen as soon as possible. Especially trout and salmon. The fish should be wrapped in a wet towel (paper or cloth) to prevent the fish from drying out. Place the fish into an airtight plastic bag, and freeze.
» If you want a reproduction fish done for one that is caught and released, you will need at least two of these measurements—the overall length, the girth, of the belly, and accurate weight.
» Never wrap in newspaper. The newspaper print can bleed through and stain the skin.
» Never gut the fish or remove the gills.
» Never let the fish start to dry out or sit out in the warm temperatures.
» Let the bird cool. Put a wad of cotton or tissue into the mouth and throat of the bird to keep blood and fluids from getting on the feathers.
» Keep the feathers as clean as possible. Clean off any existing blood.
» When in the field, slide the bird into an old nylon stocking. This keeps the feathers from getting roughed up.
» Wrap the feet of the bird in wet paper towels, especially ducks and geese. This keeps the feet from getting dried out.
» If the bird has long tail feathers, use stiff cardboard to support and help protect them from damage.
» Wrap the bird in an air-tight bag and freeze.