Field Care

Field Care | Fish | Birds | Small & Medium Mammals | Large Mammals & Gameheads | Salting

Animals may be brought in fresh or frozen (and registered if required by law). If you do not plan to bring in your trophy fresh, there are some steps that should be taken in order to preserve the condition of your trophy until it gets here.

  • All animals should be allowed to cool off as soon as possible after harvest to prevent meat and hide spoilage.

  • All animals should be allowed to cool off before sealing them in airtight plastic bags and freezing them.

  • Excessive blood should be washed off prior to storage to prevent blood stains and spoilage.

Remember: prolonged exposure to dry air inside a freezer can cause irreversible freezer-burn damage.

  • Do not skin.

  • Should be coated with powdered borax in order to preserve the colors and natural markings. Be sure to include the gills and fins.

  • Make sure all fins are laid down and then wrap whole fish in a wet towel that won't bleed color. This creates a layer of ice that protects fins from being bumped and prevents air from drying out the fish and causing it to become freezer-burnt.

  • Place it in an airtight plastic bag before laying it flat in the freezer for storage.

  • Do not skin.

  • Place whole bird in a plastic bag and seal airtight.

  • You may optionally wrap newspaper around the plastic bag to protect the tail from being crushed.

  • Freeze immediately.

  • For turkey tails, cut off entire tail with about 2" of skin with back feathers still attached. Cut beards off with skin still attached. For feet and spurs, cut off feet at the ankle joint at the bottom of the feather line. Place them in an airtight plastic bag and freeze.

  • Do not skin.

  • Can be double-bagged in plastic, sealed airtight, and frozen.

  • Optionally, you can wrap the head and feet in wet paper towels and then bag them individually before placing entire animal in larger bag in order to prevent freezer-burning of face and toes.

Although most game can be taken in whole to a taxidermist, some hunts require the immediate dressing and skinning of animals in order to transport them and prevent the meat from spoiling in the field.

  • When field dressing, do not make any cuts beyond the base of the brisket.

  • If a garden hose is available, wash excessive blood out of the body cavity by spraying it out with water and let it drain to prevent spoilage. Snow or paper towels will also do the trick.
Skinning gameheads yourself is acceptable, but not highly recommended to an untrained person. Untrained skinners may damage the cape, which will require you to pay for the costs of additional repair services in order to render the cape usable. If not familiar with skinning, bring the entire animal to our facility after field dressing and we will skin it for you. Allowing the taxidermist to perform the appropriate cuts on your trophy ensures that the meat stays clean and the mounting process goes smoothly, resulting in a high end quality showpiece.

If you wish to skin your trophy yourself, carefully:

Skinning Diagram
  • Hang the animal by the hocks (hind legs) and peel the skin down. Keep tension by pulling on the hide while carefully cutting away the membrane that binds the skin to the carcass.

  • Make a cut along the back of the front legs where the long hair and short hair meet.(See skinning diagram- Downward Arc cut) On deer, this short hair is white. This white hair must be kept on the front part of the cape for a full shoulder mount.

  • Keep cutting along the back side of the upper leg, then angle your cut to the base of the brisket.

  • Pull the rest of the hide down to the head, and cut the head off the carcass, leaving the neck meat on the carcass and the entire hide still attached to the head.

  • If not bringing in immediately, lay hide out skin side up, fold the edges toward the center, roll it up, and place it in an airtight plastic bag before freezing (Be sure cape is cooled before freezing).

  • Do not salt
We prefer to cape all heads ourselves in order to minimize unnecessary damage. If you insist on caping your trophy yourself, carefully: (see caping diagram)

  • Cut the cape off 10 inches behind the shoulders.

  • Make a "Y" shaped cut between the antlers and split down the center of the back of the neck.

  • Use a screwdriver to pry the skin away from the antlers, tapping gently with a hammer. If working with horned game, use a sharp knife.

  • Skin out the head, cutting closely to the skull. Be careful around the ears, eyes, and tear ducts. Cut lips as close to the teeth as possible. Cut off the nose close to the skull, leaving plenty of cartilage attached to the skin.

  • Roll up the cape hair-side out and seal it in a plastic bag before freezing. Cool cape before bagging.

  • Do not salt unless the cape is completely fleshed, the ears are turned, and the lips and nose are split.
Caping Diagram
Skull plates- (See Diagram) Cut off skull plate horizontally through the center of eyes to the back of the skull. Remove all flesh and salt lightly.

Skinning Diagram
Rug Skinning

  • Start the incision at the base of the head, down center of the neck, chest, and belly to the tail.

  • Cut front legs open from center of each pad straight across.

  • Cut back legs slightly on inside from heel to heel.

  • Leave the head and paws on hide and cool in shade. Freeze immediately after cooling.

  • Optional only to experienced hands: skin out paws to toenails, skin head, split lips, turn ears, and remove all flesh and fat. Salt hide thoroughly (see "salting procedure"). Freeze hide after salting.
Full Mount, Half Mount, Shoulder Mount Skinning (See Diagram)

  • Use the same technique as rug skinning. Substitute "downward arc" cut on chest area of animal.

  • Record measurements of chest and belly circumference, length of nose to tail, tip of nose to inside corner of eye, and tip of nose to back of skull.

  • Flesh and salt in the same manner or freeze hide while fresh.

Before salting, hide must be completely fleshed, including lips, eyes, ears, and nose. Lay cape or hide out flat and rub fine grain salt into flesh side thoroughly (approximately 1/4" inch layer). Leave it in the shade for a few hours, then remove the wet salt and re-salt it. Place it in a sealable plastic bag and freeze immediately. Do not store any cape or hide in plastic unless it's frozen immediately. If conditions are warm, rub salt into the eyes, nose, lips, ears, and wounds as soon as possible after killing the animal to prevent hair slippage.