Many deer hunters choose to have their trophy shoulder mounted. If this is your choice, you should know that how you cape your animal is the key to success at the taxidermist. It is crucial that the cuts you make to field dress and cape your deer are made correctly.
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GUTTING: If you field dress the deer, make certain that you only cut the hide to the brisket, to remove the guts. The hide from the end of the brisket to the head
is critical to a successful mount.
FIRST CUTS: Hang the deer by the back legs and pull it up until the head clears the ground. Locate the end of the brisket nearest the deer’s rear legs. Make a cut around the deer’s body 2 inches behind the brisket. Continue the cut across the ribs, over the back and back to the origin of the cut behind the brisket. Ring the front legs below the knees. Cut the hide on the back of the legs in a straight line between the ring cuts below the knees, to the cut around the deer’s body.
SKINNING: Start skinning the deer at the cut around the body. Skin the hide off the carcass towards the front legs. When you reach the cuts on the front legs, start working the hide off the front legs being careful not to cut a hole in the hide. Continue skinning the deer until all hide is removed from the carcass all the way to the head. Locate the first cervical joint behind the head and sever the head from the neck at that joint.
Wrap the hide around the head and place it in a plastic trash bag. If you cannot take your trophy to the taxidermist that day, then freeze it. Your taxidermist will have everything he needs to complete your shoulder mount.
This article was originally published in the AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN™ Winter 2016 issue #205. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.