Removing a cape for your taxidermist to mount is really a simple task, but when my daughter killed a nice buck this year (see post 11 Years & 9 Points – Finishing the Deer Season Like a Boss) I wasn’t confident that I was doing it right. Luckily, my father-in-law has more stuff stuffed than the Smithsonian, and he made sure I didn’t screw up the specimen that we’d have on our wall for a lifetime.
It is surprisingly simple. Using a sharp knife:
- Make a cut to ring the hide around the ankles.
- Make a cut up the inside of the leg along the line dividing the white and brown hair.
- Continue the cut through the armpit of the deer, and up the abdomen. Stop the cut roughly in the middle of the deer’s body. Repeat this on the other leg.
- Next, make a cut around the deer’s abdomen roughly in the center of the deer’s abdomen. It is important to use a sharp knife for all of these cuts, and to make certain not to puncture the gut. You will basically be ringing the deer’s hide roughly half way between the front and back of the deer to give the taxidermist plenty of hide to stretch and staple over the form. He can remove any excess if needed, but adding hide isn’t all that easy.
- At this point you will be able to begin carefully removing the hide, skinning in the direction of the head. Remember to us a sharp knife with an appropriately shaped blade. Go slowly, and be sure not to cut through the hide. You can always cut more, but you can’t take a slice back.
- Pay special attention around the deer’s armpit, and brisket. The armpit has surprisingly thin skin in that area, and it’s easy to nick it. The brisket area should skin down in a flap, and meet up with the neck of the cape. The brisket can be difficult because there is a great deal of fat in this area, which can make it difficult to distinguish the fat from the hide. Cut too much fat if necessary, but try not to cut through the hide. Remember this is the area that everyone will see on your mount, and you don’t want it to look like your deer got shanked to death in prison, right?
- Simply continue skinning the hide down until you reach the deer’s last few vertebrae. At that point, just saw through the neck being mindful not to damage the hide you just meticulously removed. Now you’ve got your cape with the head attached to bring to the taxidermist. Simply place the entire hide, and head in a plastic trash bag, and place it in the freezer. It will keep for a while once frozen.