Taxidermy 101

Taxidermy comes up more times than not amongst friends and fellow hunters. One of the things as hunters we think about is “What do I do if I shoot a giant buck? How do I get it out of the woods? Who do I take it to? How do I cape it out? Will my processor know how to cape it for me?” These are all good questions. So we sat down with the experts here at SlickTrick and asked them to share their advice on the matter.

“Who do I take my trophy to?”

This is just a piece of the puzzle and requires some research. Some taxidermists specialize in certain animals and not others so be sure to ask what their specialty is. Look at and visit all taxidermists in the area and review their work - a good taxidermist will have nothing to hide and will answer all your questions and show you around. These folks are artists and typically love showing you their work and processes. Don’t pretend to know something that you don’t, so ask all questions that come to mind. 

Do your best to have a taxidermist selected before season starts. Be selective and skeptical of a taxidermist that tells you he can provide a cheap price, quick turnaround and grade “A” quality. Your trophy is something that is going to hang on display for many years to come. Generally, a good artist charges for his/her work and it may take some time to produce quality work. Once you determine who you are going to use, keep in mind you are now a “TEAM” and you have to do your part to produce the quality mount of a lifetime. In this visit ask how they prefer to cape the animal out (each taxidermist is a little different). If you don’t cape your own deer, ask if they can do it for an added charge? If possible, have your taxidermist cape your trophy animal, as it allows them to take any measurements needed to recreate this deer to a life-like form. Don’t assume your processor knows how to cape the animal for your taxidermist.

Here are some standard tips from taxidermists to ensure a beautiful mount:

  1. Avoid taking head and neck shots and avoid shooting them through the shoulders if you are getting a full shoulder mount done. Never cut the throat of the animal.
  2. Once the animal is recovered, do your best not to damage the hair of the animal. If possible, use a game cart, ATV, or game sled or tarp to minimize damage. If this isn’t possible and you need to drag the animal, do not tie a rope around its neck this is certain to damage it in short order. Try to avoid rough terrain and pay attention to sticks and limbs as they can puncture the skin and ruin a hide in a hurry.
  3. Clean as much of the blood off the cape as soon as possible, as it becomes harder to remove as time passes.
  4. Moisture and heat are your worst enemies it allows for bacteria growth. If the deer is left in warm temperatures for long periods of time, it can cause hair slippage which is a condition that can’t be fixed. 
  5. Don’t keep your animal in the back of your truck for days. If you are not able to get it there that day and temperatures allow get the animal hung up (avoid laying it on its side), which helps the animal to cool. Do not hang by the neck and be sure to avoid hanging in direct sunlight.
  6. Make it a point to get it caped or set up a time for your taxidermist to cape it for you as soon as possible.
  7. If budget doesn’t allow you to get to the taxidermist call them and ask what further steps should be taken to preserve the cape for mounting it in the near future.

By following these steps you will set your taxidermist up for success, and they will be able to do their part as a TEAM to provide you with a quality piece of work that will last for many years to come.

slick trick broadhead antelope