The aim of this guide is to describe the skinning or 'caping' process required to produce a full-head trophy mount.
If the head is to be mounted by a taxidermist, the head is normally removed complete with the cape. The skinning off of the cape is critically important to the look and quality of the completed mount. A short neck on larger head mounts may look unbalanced and ‘front heavy’. It is therefore better to skin off too much cape rather than too little.
If the head is required to be skinned as well, specialised advice should be sought. If the head and cape is going to the taxidermist it is advisable to ask in advance how they would like it skinned, stored, packed and delivered.
- Bleed the deer back through the diaphragm to keep the neck skin intact.
- Remove any blood splashed on the coat during carcass preparation and transportation.
- With a sharp knife make a cut circling the body behind the shoulder at approximately the mid-way point of the rib cage behind the front legs. Cut the skin around the legs just above the knees. An additional slit will be needed from the back of the leg and joining the body cut behind the legs.
- Peel the skin forward up to the ears and jaw exposing the head/neck junction.
- Alternatively make one long cut up the middle of the back of the neck to between the ears which stops 2" back behind the antlers. Make a ‘V’ shaped cut from between the ears up to the base of the antlers.
- Peel back the skin from between the shoulder blades and skin forward towards the head.
- Cut into the neck approximately 3" down from the head/neck 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.
- The skin can then be rolled up ready for storage or transportation.