Caping Large Mammals

If you want a shoulder or pedestal mount of your white-tailed deer, wild pig or bull elk there are a few things to remember when caping out the animal.

–  NEVER make any cuts in front of the front legs.

–  Start caping your animal by cutting completely around the body, exactly in the middle, between the front and back legs.  This will ensure that the taxidermist has enough cape to work with, no matter what pose you choose.

–  Cut completely around the front legs, about 1 inch up from the “elbow”.

–  Start an incision at the cut around the legs on the back side of the leg where the long brown hairs meet the long white hairs.  Continue cutting up this hair line into the “arm pit”.  From the “arm pit”, cut straight back to the incision around the body of the animal.

–  Once all the incisions are made, start removing the cape working your way toward the head.  Be careful not to cut any holes in the cape.

–  Release the cape all the way to the base of the head.  Sever the neck approximately 4 inches from the base of the head.

–  After the head and cape are separated from the carcass, place them into a trash bag.  Remove as much air from the bag as possible and seal the bag with tape around the base of the antlers if they will not fit inside the bag.  Once completed, double bag the head and cape and seal again with tape.  Place the bagged head and cape in the freezer.


Lifesize Mammals

These steps are for preparing mammals that are coyote size or smaller.  Larger mammals, to be mounted life-size, will be covered at the end of this section.

–  Do NOT skin or field dress the animal.  The taxidermist will skin the animal in the proper way depending on the species and desired pose.

–  Place the entire animal in a trash bag and remove as much air from the bag as possible.  After removing the air, zip-tie the end of the bag or tie the end of the bag in a knot.  Place the bagged animal into another trash bag and seal the bag as before.

–  Gently place the animal into the freezer without tearing holes in the bag.  Try to position the legs so that they are close to the body, as if the animal is curled up sleeping.  This will prevent claws from tearing open the bags.


Any animal larger than a coyote needs to be taken to the taxidermist as soon as possible.  Call the taxidermist to make arrangements for delivering your animal.



Congratulations!  You’ve just caught the largest fish of your life and you want to mount it and show all of your buddies!  This is the question: do you want a skin mount, or will you release the fish and get a fiberglass reproduction?  Whatever your decision, here are the steps you need to follow.


Skin Mount

–  Find an old towel and thoroughly saturate it with water.  Wring out as much water from the towel as possible, and lay the towel out on a flat surface.

–  Place the fish in the center of the towel and be sure that all of the fins are lying flat against the body.

–  Carefully fold the top of the towel over the fish.  Next, fold the bottom of the towel over the fish.  At this point, the entire fish should be covered by the towel.  Fold the towel over the head and toward the tail.  Finally, place your hand over the tail, then fold the excess towel over your hand ensuring that the tail fin is not bent.

–  Place the towel-wrapped fish in a trash bag and wrap the bag around the fish.  Gather the open end of the bag and seal with masking tape or a zip-tie.  Place the fish in the freezer lying on a flat surface.


Fiberglass Reproduction

There are 2 measurements you need to take on your trophy fish before returning it to the water.  These measurements should be taken with a tape measure.  If one is not available, you can use rope or string and mark it for the different measurements.  The first measurement you need is the total length of the fish from the front of the closed mouth to the end of the tail.  The next measurement is the girth or circumference around the center of the fish at its widest point.  Another useful measurement is the true weight of the fish.  This isn’t critical information, but could help the taxidermist in ordering an accurate reproduction.


Due to the differences in coloration and patterns among fish of the same species, it is always helpful to provide photos of the fish taken shortly after it was caught.  This helps the taxidermist replicate the look of your specific fish.





So you’ve harvested a trophy bird!  There are a few simple steps that you need to complete before freezing your bird.

–  Examine your bird for any major damage, such as large patches of missing feathers and damaged wing feathers.  These type of damages could limit the possible poses available to produce a beautiful mount.  Make a note of any damage and its location and inform the taxidermist.

–  If the feathers are extremely bloody, gently rinse the bird in cool, running water and carefully pat dry with a paper towel.

–  To package the bird for freezing, lay the bird on its back and tuck its head under one of its wings.  Do NOT wrap the bird in newspaper or paper towels.  This will draw blood away from the body and to the feathers, as well as drawing out moisture from the skin, causing freezer burn.  Carefully place the bird into the bottom of a trash bag.  Next, roll the bird in the trash bag from the bottom of the bag to the top, taking precaution not to bend any of the tail or wing feathers.  Remove as much air from the bag as possible without damaging the feathers.  Place the rolled up bird inside another trash bag and roll the bag around the bird as before.  Gently apply masking tape around the bag and the bird to seal.

–  Finally, place the bird in the freezer and be sure that no other items are resting on the bird.



Caring for your trophy

Here are a few tips to keep your trophy looking great!

–  Avoid placing your mount near a heat source or where it will be in direct sunlight.  Heat can damage any mount and smoke from wood burning fireplaces can cause mounts to become dingy and yellow.  Mounts placed in direct sunlight can fade and loose some of their vibrant colors.

–  Avoid placing mounts in high humidity areas.  Mounts that are in moist environments are more likely to attract bugs that will eat feathers and cause hair to fall out.

–  Periodically (every month or two) use a feather duster to remove dust from your mount.  Dust can accumulate on your mount and work its way deep inside the feathers or hairs making the mount look dull and dirty.  If your mount has become overly dirty and you think that you may damage the mount by cleaning it yourself, contact your taxidermist and see if they would be willing to clean it for you.

Following these simple steps will keep your trophy looking beautiful!




Garrison’s Taxidermy Philosophy:  Honoring the memory of the hunt!