Trophy Specialist

Field Care for a High Quality Head/Shoulder Mount

How to Skin a Deer for a Head and Shoulder Mount

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Trophy Deer Field Care

First, shoot the animal through the chest.  A carefully aimed shot just behind the shoulders is best, because it ruins less meat and will not damage the cape allowing the taxidermist to create a more lifelike head mount.   Shot placement just behind the shoulders also wastes less meat than other alternatives.  Please don't finish off the animal by shooting it in the neck or head, instead, finish it off with a shot through the chest, which will better allow it to bleed out.  Taxidermists certainly appreciate a cape that was cared for property.  Please don't slit the throat on the deer as this leads to unnecessary cape damage which will cost the customer extra.  When field dressing the animal, don't cut past the sternum.   Be gentle while recovering the animal from the woods.  Avoid dragging it on the ground; better to use a Jet Sled or ATV to get him out and protect the hide.  For the best mounting quality, take the deer straight to the taxidermist or processor for skinning ASAP.  If you must hang your deer, please don't hang it with a rope around its neck, instead, hang it by the antlers so the blood can drain away from the head and neck area.  Keep in mind that hanging the animal by its antlers will cause the spread of the rack to narrow slightly reducing it's record book score, so if that is a concern, then cut a piece of wood and wedge it tightly between the antlers to maintain the spread.  Make sure to tell your deer processor or butcher that you want the animal skinned for a head and shoulder mount.  If you skin the deer yourself, lower the deer (hanging by the antlers) and then hoist it back up with a gambrel hooked into the hind legs.  Skin the deer as normal from the rump towards the head.  If you skin the deer yourself, be careful not to make any unnecessary cuts.  Tube the skin up the chest and neck, leaving plenty of hide behind the shoulder for the taxidermists.   Most people just leave the hide whole and deliver it to the taxidermist.  Cut the front legs off at the knee and tube the skin off the legs without any cuts.  Cut the head off at the base of skull being careful not to cut the hide with the saw.  To avoid freezer burn, roll up the cape, skin side in; put it in a garbage bag tying it off between the antler bases to cover the ears, eyes and nose; then freeze it.  I recommend double bagging and freezing the head and hide this way which will keep the specimen in good condition for several months.  If you can't freeze the cape, roll it up inside a burlap bag or commercial game bag and then hang it in a cold, well ventilated place.  For best mounting results, get the cape to the taxidermist ASAP.

Fish Field Care

Simply take several good closeup photos of your trophy fish right after it is caught.  Digital photos are best.  Then take a length measurement from the tip of the tail to the end of the closed lower jaw.  It's best to take the length measurement by placing the fish on top of the ruler.  A girth measurement taken around the widest part of the fish is useful, but not mandatory.  The fish can then be released or cleaned and eaten without any other hassles.  You can just deliver the photos and measurement to Trophy Specialists Taxidermy via email, US Mail, or in person and the mount will be recreated to exacting standards.  When completed you can pick the mount up in person or have it delivered to your desired location (shipping and handling charges applicable).   

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The deer should be hung by his head until you either skin him or take him to a processor.Hang the deer by his head.

Hang the deer by his gambrels for skinning and don't make any cuts below the red line.
Skinning a deer for a head and shoulder mount

Do not drag your deer on the ground.  Use a Jet Sled to protect the hide from damage.  It also makes it easier to drag too.
If you must drag a deer do it using a Jet Sled

If you use an ATV to extract your trophy, put it inside a Jet Sled to keep the carcass from rubbing and being damaged.
If you use an ATV to extract your trophy, put it inside a Jet Sled to keep the carcase from rubbing and being damaged.

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