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).
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.)
Cut deeply around the rectum, being careful not to cut off or puncture
the intestine. Pull to make sure the rectum is separated fro 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
If you Can't take your hide immediately to a taxidermist, freeze it to
your taxidermist's specifications.
for a shoulder mount
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 fro 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.
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 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 your game.
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.
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.
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.
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.
McKenzie Taxidermy Supply
2715 Main St.
Salmon, ID 83467
(208) 756-2307 or (208) 303-7531
© RIVER OF NO RETURN TAXIDERMY