Field Care Advice
Taxidermist Tony Breedlove speaks about Field Care for your trophy
Basic Field Care Notes
- Always check local, state, and federal game and fish regulations for all species. Some have size limits and others require special permits for possession.
We offer the following information to aid in the preparation of your trophy for transport. We are available for further consultation and pre-hunt advice to ensure a quality product for you. Animal skins are perishable and must be treated as such. From the moment a trophy is taken the natural process of decomposition begins. You, and we, are fighting that fact every moment we are working on your mount. Bacteria are immediately working to break down the hide. You must work as fast and as cleanly as possible to prepare the skin and horns/antlers for transport to us.
Remember heat and bacteria are of big concern. Field care must be taken seriously to ensure good mountable specimen. We encourage clients to know and understand these factors to aid in the goal of a quality mount.
Wildlife Art Creations, Inc. cannot be responsible for the care of skins and horns/antlers before they reach our facility. Skins have often traveled thousands of miles over many weeks to reach us. Improper handling in the beginning can result in a skin that is not mountable.
Large mammals should be field dressed as soon as possible. Limit the cavity incision to only as large as is absolutely necessary to remove the entrails. Do not cut past the “hard brisket” up into the chest. Try to keep blood and other body fluids off of the fur. If water is available, wash out the cavity. Prop the cavity open to allow heat to dissipate. Refer to our instructions for skinning and hide preserving. Be aware of the type of mount you have in mind in advance of skinning. Each type of mount has very different methods for skinning.
Small mammals such as bobcat, fox, squirrel, etc., should be left whole. There is no need to field dress these animals. Allow the specimen to cool, then wrap in plastic. It is best to take these trophies to your taxidermist fresh. If necessary to freeze, wrap in two layers of plastic and lay flat, and “uncurled”. To avoid damage to small feet, thin legs, and around the eyes, ears, and mouth don’t leave in freezer more than a few months.
Birds retain heat for a very long time. Their feathers insulate so well body heat cannot escape. Birds spoil very quickly from the inside out. When hunting ducks, geese, dove, or quail never pile the birds together in one bag. Body heat will combine to cause damage to your mountable birds. Keep mounting prospects separate, cool, clean, and dry. Fluff the feathers to promote cooling. Small birds such as dove, quail, and ducks may be left whole. Larger birds (turkey, geese) should be field dressed by opening the cavity as soon as possible. Start at the “vent”, cut from the inside out, toward the breast. Only open 1½ -2 inches. Remove the entrails then prop the cavity open to allow body heat to escape. Be very careful not to soak the feathers with blood or body fluid. If necessary wipe fluids from feathers immediately with a clean cloth or paper towel. This will reduce staining of the feathers. Spread the wings and fluff the feathers to allow further cooling. If you are unable to take your birds directly to the taxidermist, they must be frozen after cooling. Smooth feathers, tuck head under a wing and wrap in at least two layers of plastic. Lay flat in the freezer. Limit freezer time to a few months. Freezer burn to feet and eyes will occur and is irreversible.
- Do not wash off the natural “slime” coating.
Fresh water fish should be left whole. Keep them cold. If necessary to freeze, place wet fish into a plastic bag being certain the fins are smoothed as flat to the body as possible. Extended, brittle fins are very breakable. Wrap the bag around the fish, wrap the bag with a damp towel, then place into another plastic bag. Lay flat to freeze. Never wrap fish in newspaper, this will promote freezer burn.
Reptiles (snakes, lizards, etc.) should be wrapped in plastic and frozen whole.
Incisions are very hard to hide, especially on trophies with short or course hair. Incisions on legs and the back of the neck are extremely hard to repair, even for the most experienced taxidermist. Unnecessary incisions also add time to completing the mount, adding to your cost.
Shoulder, Half, & Pedestal Mounts
When skinning your trophy for half, shoulder, or pedestal mounts be sure the field dressing incision does not pass the point of where the hard brisket begins. You don’t want a seam in the chest of your mount.
Make incisions as indicated on diagram 1. The back hide may be removed just in front of the rear flanks, as indicated by the horizontal line. The hide or cape can be rolled down, like removing a sock As you reach the shoulders continue rolling the hide over the upper leg and cut the leg off on the inside just above the knee, leaving the lower leg intact. Continue inverting the hide down the neck to the jaw line. Sever the head from the neck on the inside as close to the jaw as possible, leaving no incisions from the brisket forward. Cool the hide. Keep cool and dry while transporting to your taxidermist. If necessary to freeze fold hide from the back forward and place in plastic.
Most Life Sized Mounts
Talk to Tony to determine which life sized skinning method is best for the mount you have in mind.
Eliminating incisions can be one of the greatest enhancements to your mount. Be sure to obtain the proper measurements before skinning! Refer to the measurement information and chart provided. For the best results in preparing your trophy for a life sized mount follow these simple instructions.
Lay the animal on its side. Begin your incision a few inches below the base of the skull following the backbone as indicated by “A” on diagram 2. Stop the incision a few inches above where the tail joins the body. Separate the skin from the body on both sides. Clip the tail from the body, leaving the bone in the tail for now. Continue inverting the skin down the rear legs, similar to the way you would remove your sock. Clip the bone just below the knee, leaving the lower leg and foot intact. Follow the same procedure for the front legs. Continue inverting the hide down the neck to the jaw line. Sever the head from the neck as close to the jaw line as possible. Cool the hide. Keep cool and dry while transporting to your taxidermist. If necessary to freeze allow heat to dissipate from hide then fold the hide from back to head and place in plastic.