"WELCOME TO MY OUTDOOR WORLD"
FROM THE FIELD TO THE TAXIDERMIST
It never fails that each year I see several trophy animals ruined due to improper handling in the field. With a little knowledge, many of these mistakes could be prevented. The purpose of this article is to help you get your trophy to your taxidermist in the best possible condition. Proper field care, and knowing what to do, is a big part of making your mount look it's absolute best.
Carefully examine the fish for damage and determine the best or "show" side.
Take a good 35 mm color photo. Avoid bright sun and flash photos (too much glare). If you can't, a good taxidermist knows the color of the fish in his or her area.
Keep the fish alive or get it cold. If putting the fish in a cooler keep the "show" side up, AND PUT NOTHING ON TOP OF THE FISH. This is very important to keep the fish from getting blotchy. No cans, no other fish - NOTHING on top of the fish.
If you cannot take the fish to a taxidermist right away, then you must freeze the fish. Wrap the fish in a clean towel or wet rags, then press all air out. Put in a plastic bag (garbage bags work), taking care to keep the fish as flat as possible, place it in a freezer.
...............NEVER, EVER............... Gut the fish. While this damage can usually be repaired, it will cost extra.
Wrap the fish in newspaper. News print can be absorbed by the fish skin and may be hard to cover. News paper also dries out the skin leaving the fins very fragile.
If you are in a back country situation where freezing may not be possible, or a fisherman who practices catch & release, you may want to have a reproduction of your fish done, instead of a skin mount.
Measure the length from the nose to tip of the tail. Fan or spread the tail when measuring.
Measure the girth (circumference) of the fish around the belly. Weigh the fish, if possible.
Note the sex of the fish (when possible) and whether or not it is spawning.This is most important for members of the trout & salmon family.
Take several good quality color photos of the fish. 35 mm pictures are best, NO flash photos, and avoid bright sunlight (too much glare) if you can. A taxidermist can do a good job without a photo.
Release the fish (or fillet it).
Birds are very easy to care for in the field. First, you must determine if the bird is good enough to mount. Many birds brought in each year, particularly waterfowl, are not fully feathered enough to make a good mount. Check for pin feathers by gently lifting backwards and looking for feathers that are not fully grown. The back of the neck, the top of the head, the rump and the side feathers are the areas where pin or blood feathers are the most common. Look also at the size of the bird compared to other birds of the same species. Older, more mature birds are generally larger. Check to see how badly hit your bird was. If it has large holes, wing feathers shot or broken off or more then just a few pellets in the head area, it is probably in too poor of a condition to mount. If you are not sure, take the bird in to your taxidermist so that he or she can check it for themselves.
Assuming that you have a well feathered bird that you did not shoot up. Rinse or wipe as much blood off the feathers as you can.
Place a piece of toilet paper, or other absorbent material, in the birds mouth to help absorb fluids.
Tuck the head under or next to the wing and place the bird head first in a plastic bag.
Keep the bird as cool as you can and take it to your taxidermist as soon as you can, or place in a freezer.
Turkeys and other large birds may need to be field dressed in order to keep them from spoiling. Make a short incision from the vent to the base of the rib cage. Remove the entrails and rinse the cavity with water, then place ice inside the cavity. Place in cooler or take in to your taxidermist ASAP.
HANDLE THE BIRD CAREFULLY AND TRY TO AVOID ANYTHING THAT MIGHT STAIN OR BREAK THE FEATHERS.
There are several different ways you may choose to mount a mammal and each way requires slightly different handling in the field. You may choose to do a full body mount. This is most common for small mammals (like mink and squirrels) and medium mammals (like foxes & raccoons). Bear, deer and other big game animals can also be mounted as full body mounts, but because of the size, they require different field care than small and medium mammals. Bears are the animal most often made into a rug, but bobcats, coyotes and foxes also make a beautiful rug. Field care is very similar for any animal you want to make into a rug. Half or 3/4 body mounts are also a very popular way to display many trophy animals. Deer and other horned and antlered animals are most often mounted this way.
BASIC RULES FOR FIELD CARE OF ALL MAMMALS
Whenever possible take it in fresh for the taxidermist to skin. NEVER SLIT THE THROAT OF ANY ANIMAL! When field dressing any animal that you want to have as a FULL BODY MOUNT, you must leave his or her genitals and vent attached. DO NOT cut these off.
When field dressing any animal, always make your cuts with the sharp edge of the knife UP.
If you must skin the animal yourself, make as few cuts as possible.
Do not drag the animal unless you place something under it to protect the hide.
NEVER hang or drag any animal by the neck! This damages the hide and stretches the neck.
Place tags carefully in the hide, doing as little damage as possible.
DO NOT SALT any animal unless it's head and feet are completely skinned and fleshed.
Keep every animal as cold as possible and take it to a taxidermist as soon as possible. If you can't take it in right away, freeze it or keep it cold till you can.
SMALL OR MEDIUM MAMMALS
No matter how you plan to mount your small or medium mammal, up to the size of a coyote, the field care I recommend is the same.
Check for damage. Head damage is particularly difficult to repair, so are very large holes. If you feel the animal is mountable, then...
Place in a plastic bag. Most small and medium mammals carry fleas, lice, or ticks. If you have some bug killer, like RAID, spray the animal down before putting it in the bag.
Take the animal in fresh or place in your freezer. DO NOT GUT or SKIN unless the weather is warm and you have no access to ice.
This is especially true if you want a full body mount, Many measurements are needed from the carcass.
If you must field dress the animal. Then make a cut form the vent up the center of the belly to the ribs. Do not cut past the rib cage.
Remove the entrails. Do not cut off the testicles, penis or vent. Fill the cavity with ice and take in to taxidermist as soon as pos sible.
If you take your animal whole, the taxidermist can look it over and help you choose the best way to mount your animal. Full body mounts and rugs are the most common choices, but there are some other interesting options.
Full shoulder mounts, are the most popular way for most people to display their trophy animal. For local customers, once the animal is properly registered, I encourage you to take in the whole fresh animal. The taxidermist will gladly remove the cape sometimes at no extra charge, or very little. By capping the animal him or herself, he or she will know the cape is not cut short and can eliminate any extra holes that are often cut in the hide by inexperienced skinners. The taxidermist can get several fresh and accurate neck measurements which helps get the proper size from for your animal. However, the following instructions should help you if you are in a situation where you have to skin the animal yourself.
Make a cut around the body BEHIND the front legs.
Make a cut up the back of the front leg to the point where the leg meets the body. Then bring the cut over to meet the first cut.
DO NOT CUT INSIDE THE FRONT LEG.
Cut around the front legs, just above the knee.
Lift and pull the hide toward the head as you begin skinning.=20 Be careful in the "armpit" area not to cut any holes.
Continue skinning until you are at the back of the skull, then stop.
Using a cloth tape measure, (or boot lace if you forgot the tape) measure the neck, behind the ears and under the jaw. Measure on the meat, not on the hide, at the smallest point.
Make a second measurement 3" down the neck, on the meat parallel to the first measurement.
Separate the skull from the neck, fold the hide flesh side to flesh side and place in a plastic bag to keep from drying out.
DO NOT SALT THE SKIN!! Salt should be used only after the cape is fully processed or it will prevent the hide from freezing properly and create excess fluid which can cause the hide to spoil faster.
If you are still unsure about where to measure, leave at least 6" of neck attached to the skull and take it to your taxidermist. The head and cape may also be frozen now and taken in later. Keep in a cool, dark place like an unheated garage or spare refrigerator. You must take the head into your taxidermist immediately if the temperature is above 60 degrees and within 2 days if the temperature is above 45 degrees, or you need to freeze it. The hair will begin to "slip" if it is not frozen or processed soon after skinning.
I hope this helps you to understand more about getting your trophy
"From the Field to the Taxidermist"