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• Every hunter and fisher has seen work that he or she likes. Talk to your friends to find out who did their mounts, visit their shops and look at some of their work first hand. Find out how the taxidermist prefers to receive the animal you’re having mounted.
• If you’re looking to mount that deer, head and neck shots are a bad idea. If you have time to make a good shot and know you have a trophy in your sights, a shot at the heart and/or lungs is best.
• Once you’ve located and tagged your downed deer, take a quick photo or two on your cell phone or camera. Believe it or not, deer will begin to lose some of their natural color around the eyes and mouth within an hour of being killed. A couple of good photos will help a taxidermist make that mount look really lifelike.
• Speaking of tagging that deer: try not to put a huge slit in the ear. Large safety pins are better for a trophy, and the hole isn’t nearly as obvious as a large cut from a knife
• Once your photo session is over, get it out of the woods (or field). The instant the animal dies, bacteria begin going to work on the body, which can become a major problem for a taxidermist in the end.
• Drag the deer as little as possible to protect the hide. When you have to, drag from the antlers only so the hair will slick back. Raise the animal while dragging as much as you can, lifting the chest and as much of the front legs off the ground as possible.
• If it’s warm and you have to wait for help or a ride, field dress the animal and keep the body in the shade.
• Don’t drive that trophy all over showing everyone under the sun. Sure, there will be contests for you to enter and places you might want to show it off, but remember that heat and sun can cause slippage and really make the fur messy in the end.
• Have an idea of how you want your animals mounted. You don’t have to be specific, but if there is a chance you want a wall pedestal, or full body, skin it as such. Your taxidermist can always trim excess, but if it’s too short—you’re outta luck. Most butcher shops know how to cape really well and can help you out with that part.
• If you can’t get it to the taxidermist right away, freeze the hide; there is no need to salt it. Lay the hide skin to skin and fold or roll it toward the head, laying the head alongside the hide, not wrapped inside.
• Be prepared to put a deposit down. A good portion of what you pay for your mount is put into cost of materials and tanning.
• Turkey hunting? Always carry the turkey by the legs to ensure the least amount of damage is done. Stuff a cotton ball in the turkeys mouth to prevent blood from leaking out and soiling the feathers.
• Mounting that trophy fish? Keep it cold! Lowering the temperature is crucial to prevent the scales from slipping. Don’t leave your fish on a stringer in the water or directly on melting ice. A dead fish will absorb water and will affect the quality of the mount. Bag it first so it has no direct contact to excess moisture.