How To Prepare Your Harvest

Whitetail Deer Field Care Guide:

Caping out for a Shoulder Mount

Caping, the process of skinning out a trophy animal, is best left to the taxidermist. Their experience skinning, especially their delicate nose, mouth, eyes, and ears is invaluable toward producing a quality mount.

REMEMBER: It is better to have more hide than less! When in doubt, DONT cut it out!

Do not cut or puncture deer ears for license attachment!

Do not cut your deer’s throat if you intend to have a shoulder mount done.

Most bullet holes can be repaired however extensive damage to the face area simple can not be “fixed” by the taxidermist.

As soon as the animal dies, bacteria begins to attack the carcass. Warm humid weather accelerates bacteria growth, so transport your trophy deer to the taxidermist within a few days otherwise “slipping of the hair” will result and your trophy will be ruined. In remote areas, or areas not near your taxidermist, a competent person may be required to cape out the hide in order to preserve it.

Every taxidermist has a preferred method of caping a hide. If unsure, contact your taxidermist prior to your hunt in order to get instructions on their caping requirements. However, the following techniques are generally acceptable.

With a sharp knife slit the hide circling the body behind the shoulder at approximately the mid-way point of the rib cage behind the front legs. Slit the skin around the legs just above the knees. An additional slit will be needed from the back of the legs (Figure 2A and 2B).




2. Peel the skin forward up to the ears and jaw exposing the head / neck junction. Cut into the neck approximately three inches back from this junction. Circle the neck cutting down to the spinal column. After this cut is complete, grasp the antler bases and twist the head off the neck.

This should allow the hide to be rolled up and put in a freezer until transported to the taxidermist. These cuts should allow ample hide for the taxidermist to work with mounting.

Remember, the taxidermist can cut off excess hide but can’t add what he doesn’t have.

Note: When field dressing a trophy to be mounted, don’t cut into the neck area, it can be repaired but it will also be slightly noticeable. Also avoid dragging the deer out of the woods with a rope around the neck. The rope, rocks or a broken branch from a deadfall can easily damage the hair or puncture the hide. Long drags sometimes takes the “shine” off the shoulder area. If you need to drag it out with a rope, attach the rope to the base of the antlers and drag your trophy carefully.

Keep your harvest cool and transport to taxidermist within a few days – earlier if weather is warm.

When dropping off your animal to be mounted, feel free to bring example pictures of how you would like it to look!  Or email them to!


Black Bear Field Care Guide:

To Properly Care for your Taxidermy Mount


DO NOTS: place your skin in plastic bags or other airtight containers, unless you are putting it immediately in the deep freezer.

DO NOT: use rock salt – use a fine grain non-iodide salt!

DO NOT: delay in taking care of you trophy – IT COULD SPOIL.

DO NOT: drip dry your hide in the sun, do so in the shade. Make every effort to remove your hide from the bear within the first 12 hours (earlier if possible) – keep cool and freeze as soon as possible.

The following procedures will allow your bear to be made into a rug as well as a life-size.

Take all your photos first.

It will be necessary to cut through the ankle joints of each paw to be able to get the skin off the body. Start with the rear paws, then the tail, and work the skin forward toward the head.

The taxidermist will remove the paws and head from the skin later. If you think you may need to do the skinning of the head – ask Hnatiuk’s for the detailed instructions on this procedure.

Rug Cut: Lay your bear on his back. Cut from the middle of the neck down the center of the belly and stop about 3 inches from the vent. Next, Cut from one front paw pad down the wrist past the elbow, across the chest and up the other front leg to the opposite paw pad. Next, cut from the back of one heel, across the back of the leg to where you stopped 3 inches from the vent, and up the other leg to the heel. Gently remove the hide, taking care to remove as much fat as possible from the hide while skinning. Leave the head and paws in the hide for the taxidermist.

Dorsal Cut for Life Size Taxidermy Mounts: Cut down from behind the elbow to the palm on both front legs. Cut from behind the knee to the heel. Cut from behind the head to the base of the tail, along the spine. Gently remove the hide by peeling down from the spinal incision, taking care to remove as much fat as possible from the hide while skinning. Leave the head and paws in the hide for the taxidermist. This method can be used on all sized game intended for Life Sized Mounts or Half Mounts.

Freeze or transport to the taxidermist ASAP. Cool the meat and cut into steak – excellent eating!



Small Mammals:

Small Mammals Animals, Coyote sized or smaller, should not be skinned unless by a professional.

Don’t gut the animal.

Small mammals, especially carnivores, will spoil quickly because of their thin hide and bacteria. If you can’t take the small game animal immediately to a taxidermist, as soon as the carcass cools completely, put in a plastic bag and freeze it.

With the epidemic of rabies evident in many areas of the country take every safety measure necessary when handling your game.


Do not gut the bird.

Rinse off the blood on the feathers with water. Take the bird immediately to your taxidermist or freeze it. Put the bird into a plastic bag for freezing being careful not to damage the feathers, including the tail. If the bird’s tail feathers do not fit in the bag do not bend them. Let the tail stick out of the bag and tie the bag loosely.

REMEMBER: All Migratory Bird Species must be accompanied by a License Number and the person who harvested it!


Do not gut your fish and don’t leave it in at the bottom of the boat exposed to the sun.

If you cannot take your fish immediately to a taxidermist, keep it cool. When a freezer is available, wrap it in a very wet towel and put it in a plastic bag, making sure all the fins are flat against the fish’s body ( to prevent breakage ), and freeze it. A fish frozen with this method can be kept in the freezer for months.

Note: All the fish that are mounted by our taxidermist will be completely repainted to restore all the natural colors. So take some pictures especially if it has unique colours that you’ll want reproduced.

Protected & Endangered Birds:

Songbirds, Eagles, Seagulls, are protected by Federal Laws and can not be mounted unless appropriate permits have been attained. Hawks and Owls are provincially protected and if found dead and were not shot they may be mounted if a salvage permit is obtained. A salvage permit can be requested at your local DNR office.

Call DNR or Hnatiuk’s for further information.


Any animal that was not hunted, is found dead, or taken from the road must first be taken to DNR for a salvage permit.  This includes song birds, birds of prey, squirrels, raccoons, coyotes, etc.  Hnatiuk’s will not take any animal that does not have a salvage permit or a hunting license number.

REMEMBER: All Migratory Bird Species must be accompanied by a License Number and the person who harvested it! Migratory birds include geese and duck species.

Additional Information:

Always have appropriate tags with your trophies when you take them to your taxidermist.

Do not cut or puncture deer ears for license attachment. For situations where you are hunting with no available taxidermist or freezer, ask your taxidermist about techniques to skin out the entire cape ( including the head ) and salting the hide. This is the only method in remote locations that can preserve your hide for later mounting.

When dropping off your animal to be mounted, feel free to bring example pictures of how you would like it to look!  Or email them to!


Because of the various diseases that wild game can transmit to humans, always use caution when handling the carcass. Example, a Raccoon on the side of the road. If you have them, use rubber or latex gloves and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after handling a dead animal. Freezing is the best method to maintain the carcass


Mount Care:

Taking home your mount is an exciting day!  When taking home a trophy that you can be proud of, its important to know a few things about its care!

Keep your mount in climate controlled areas, away from dampness, and out of direct sunlight!

Moisture, no matter how well preserved your mount, can damage the tan, corrupt the hide and cause mold, too warm or hot an area can desiccate the hide, causing it to crack.  Direct sunlight can bleach an irreplaceable cape or feathers.

Dust and skin oils will discolor fur or hair, so mounted animals should be given frequent gentle dusting, and not touched more than absolutely necessary!

Use a feather duster or a soft towel to gently wipe down the fur or feathers.  Use a cloth dampened with a little Windex no more than once a month. If pests are a concern, feel free to lightly spray with a bug repellent, do not soak the fur! Pat dry.

DO NOT get your mount wet!

DO NOT use soap and water!

DO NOT attempt to clean an old mount!  Take it to Hnatiuk’s Pro Taxidermy Studio for its special care needs!