Josh Boyd, column and photo:
Memories made while in the field are perhaps the most valuable resource that hunting can provide. Long after the sun has set and the meat acquired during a successful hunt has been consumed, the memories that you have made will remain vivid. It is this collection of memories that allow a hunter to look back and appreciate the vast gifts that nature offers.
Hunters have found many ways to assist in preserving these memories. Photos of a significant outing or records of days in the field written in a hunting journal are both excellent means of recording our hunting milestones. For many hunters, few methods succeed in preserving their hunting memories quite as well as having their trophy mounted.
A mount allows a hunter to recollect all the details of the hunt that are associated with the game animal in question. Whether you have taken the biggest buck in the woods, or want to preserve the memory of a special hunt spent in the company of friends and family, many hunters every deer season make a trip to their local taxidermist.
A number of hunters have gained ample experience throughout the years in the process of preparing their trophy for the taxidermist. For others, however, the chore of caping and preparing their buck for the taxidermist can be somewhat intimidating. Some hunters, especially those who have never taken a deer to the taxidermist, are somewhat unprepared for the task at hand when they harvest a buck that they intend to have mounted.
One helpful tip to keep in mind when preparing a deer for the taxidermist is to be mindful of the length of any cut made while field dressing. It is important to keep any field dressing cuts to a length that does not extend into the usable cape. An overextended cut becomes an additional point that a taxidermist must sew and conceal in order to properly mount your deer. Depending on how far the cut extends, the potential exists to cause unconcealable damage to the cape.
It is also important to avoid dragging a buck that is destined for the taxidermist for any longer distance than absolutely necessary. The longer that a deer is dragged along the ground, the greater the potential is for hair being pulled and rubbed from the hide, presenting an unsightly bald spot. These bald spots that result from a deer being dragged along the ground can be exceptionally difficult for a taxidermist to hide.
When caping a deer for the taxidermist, it is vital to remember that if the cape is cut in a manner that is too short, there is little that a taxidermist can do to remedy the situation without locating a replacement cape. For this reason, the initial cut that is made to the hide should be placed at a significant distance behind the shoulders of a deer. A taxidermist can always trim away any excess cape. However, they cannot replace or make up for what cape has been disposed of.
Finally, it is noteworthy to mention that a cape should be kept as free of foreign debris as possible. Small rocks, leaf litter, and sticks can easily become stuck to the inner surface of the hide. Not only does this present a mess for a taxidermist, but this debris also increases the risk of ensuing damage to the cape.
When careful consideration is given to the details involved in preparing your deer for the taxidermy process, you allow your taxidermist a quality canvas on which to create a masterpiece. The extra attention to detail given during this process will not go unrewarded. The results of your labor, once molded to perfection by your taxidermist, will be enjoyed year after year as you relive the wonderful moments of your hunt.