A quality mount starts with correct care in the field, before the taxidermist ever sees your trophy. Many times capes and hides are lost due to damage from bacteria, that thrives in hot and/or humid weather. Bacteria growth is accelerated when animals die. Gut matter and water saturation can also create a bacteria problem.

You probably will not even know the damage is happening until you notice the stinky smell. At that point it might be to late. So do yourself and your taxidermist a favor decide quickly what you are going to do with your animal.

When caping a deer or any other game for a shoulder mount, tube skin the animal from behind the shoulders. If necessary cut into the armpits from the backside of the legs. The leg skin can be cut off just above the knees. Skin the neck as far as you feel comfortable with. If you have not had some training do not attempt to skin the head. Skinning knife holes are often in delicate areas and can be hard to hide.

Deer capes and fur bearing animals should be chilled out as soon as possible. Do not attempt to gut smaller animals.

Before chilling, capes should have the blood drained and the hair wiped clean with a damp cloth or towel. Do not wash down with the water hose or submerge under water. After wipe down the hide should be rolled up, hair side out, and placed into a plastic bag with the top open (this will release heat built up in the hide). Keep the hide dry. After a couple hours cooling close the bag. This is also a good time to double bag, in preparation for freezing.

I do not recommend heavy salting of skins before chilling or freezing. Although this will help deter bacteria growth it will also cause the hide to dry and harden creating a fleshing problem. If you must salt, salt lightly with regular table salt.

Smaller mammals should be skinned by your taxidermist. If you like to do your skinning check with your taxidermist, pick a pose and skin accordingly. If the animal is going to the freezer for a while wrap the head in a couple layers of newspaper and double bag. This will protect those delicate thin ears and nose from freezer burn.

Ducks, geese and other birds should have excessive mud and blood wiped off with a damp cloth. Always wipe gently the way the feathers grow. Take care not to split the feather veins. Bird heads should be placed under a wing in preparation for freezing. Birds freeze well when placed in paper sacks or wrapped in newspaper inside plastic bags. They can also be slipped into panty hose to protect feathers.

Snakes can be double bagged after wipe down and go straight to the cooler and or freezer.

Fish, for skin mounts, should be rinsed with fresh water, placed into a damp towel, then placed into a plastic bag before going into the freezer. Lay flat in the freezer. Measure the length before wrapping for mounting quotes.

Remember before placing bagged items into your freezer tag it with the following info. what it is, name of hunter,hunting license #, date killed and county killed in. (This will probably keep you out of trouble with your wife and the game warden)