Caping Deer for Shoulder Mounts - Step by Step Guide
Recently, Mark from Valley Taxidermy uploaded a step by step guide for shoulder caping deer, prior to taxidermy.
With Marks permission, I have recreated the procedure and added some comments for the Sporting Shooter's Web subscribers. This step by step guide will be a good resource to follow when attempting to cape for your first shoulder mount..
1. The first and most important step is to find and hunt the deer you want permanently preserved through taxidermy.
2. Next you need to identify and make the initial cuts. The pictures below identify the initial 3 cuts.
3. The first cuts run from behind the legs straight to the armpits. From the arm pits we head straight back along the animal’s stomach (as represented in the diagram).
4. From between the ears make a dorsal cut straight down the back of the deer. Importantly, you will need to leave a 2 inch gap from the coronets.
5. Now we start skinning the animal back from these cuts. Be sure to skin from above. This ensures the majority of meat is left on the carcass. This can be achieved by pulling on the skin and cutting towards the skin.
6. Skin the neck all the way to the jaw line. Once skin is clear, cut through the last vertebrae, starting at the top and cutting the throat last. You may need to twist the head here to identify areas that need further cutting to ensure release of the spine.
7. We now need to start working on removing the face. The first cut will be the V cut to the base of the coronets. See diagram below for correct position for this cut. Once the cut has been made, then skin carefully around the coronets to ensure all skin is removed. Big flat head screw drivers can be helpful to get under the skin and lift it away from the coronet.
8. Once the ears are exposed, cut through the earbutts, stay as close to the skull as possible. Putting your fingers in the ears will ensure this cut is deep enough.
9. Be careful when skinning the ears back. you do not want to cut through the ears skin. See diagram.
10. This will now free room to complete the skinning around the coronets.
11. Skin down to the eye socket. Cut against the eye socket bone to release the membrane.
12. Important Step. Place finger in the eye pulling back so that you can skin the eye out. Placing your finger in the eye ensures keeping the eye and nicitaing membrane out of the cuts. Do this part slowly. You are nearly there.
13. The black ring shows your finger. Ensure that this is past the corner of the eye. Cut through this membrane to expose the corner of the eye.
Poke finger through cut, pulldown and continue to skin towards the corner of the eye.
14. Skin out the pre orbital gland. This can be done carefully with a knife. I personally prefer to pry the orbital gland out with a blunt flat screwdriver.
15. Cut through to expose teeth. This can be done directly under the pre orbital gland.
16. Continue to skin back as close to the teeth as possible.
17. To skin and release the nose you will need to make a cut along the yellow line. The cut should be towards the skull through the nose cartilage. Continue back ensuring the nose cartilage is removed.
18. Next remove the bottom lip by making a cut along the yellow line. Skin up against the bone here to ensure you do not skin through the thin skin.
19. Skin the remainder of the nose and chin to remove the skin completely from the skull.
Note: To ensure that the cape is preserved the nose and lips must be split for salt to penetrate all the way to the fur line.
In the past, many people stop here until they have experience, but the only way to get that experience is to have a go. Practice splitting on meat animals or females so when the time comes to make the cuts you will do it with confidence.
If you are not confident to go further then ensure you keep the cape cool and get it to a Taxidermist ASAP.
20. Split the nose and lips by cutting along the yellow line. Do this carefully feeling for the fur line as you go.
Upper Lip split.
The centre nose cartilage will split away exposing the skin above the nose.
21. Split the lower lip, by cutting along the yellow line and working slowly to the lip hair follicles.
Bottom lip split out.
22. The ears meat must now be removed and ears turned. This can be done with ear pliers. At a pinch I have used a blunt flat screwdriver or even a butter knife.
Ears turned and ear-butt meat removed.
23. Skull capping is very simple and can be performed easiest with any type of saw.
Finally salt the cape down ensuring that salt reaches every part of the skin. Resalt the following day and have the cape on an angle as to allow drainage.
Thanks to Mark from Valley Taxidermy for taking the time to share his images. Practice makes perfect and the more caping you do the easier it gets.