Pre-hunt information on care of your trophies, when hunting in the UK.
We do our utmost to prepare and mount the skins and capes we are provided with to the very highest standards. Skins must be fresh and correctly skinned. Unless we skin and prepare them personally, or receive the skins very fresh, within a few hours of the hunt, we cannot guarantee that any skin will mount. No taxidermist can, or will, do that. To coin a well worn phrase “We can’t make a silk purse from a sows ear.” If a skin is unfit, due to slippage or incompetent skinning, it is you, as the client, who will have to stump up for a replacement cape, or just have a skull mount. Complaining afterwards will not fix a ruined skin.
It is immediately after an animal has been hunted, that a hard won and expensive animal can be ruined by negligence of responsibility, incompetence or procrastination. If taxidermy of your trophies is your choice, they must be dealt with immediately by someone who knows exactly what they are doing..
To be clear, here in the U.K we do have some highly capable and competent professional deer managers, stalkers, guides and outfitters, who are conscientious, thorough and have taken the time to learn this skill to a high standard and provide a first class caping and skinning service, for their valued clients. They are to be valued.
In my direct experience however, there are some operators, who are only interested in your money on the day and believe their job ends at the shot, and regard the correct processing of valuable skins, at best, as an irritating chore, even when being paid to do it. Caping a deer correctly for taxidermy is neither rocket science or brain surgery. It requires a sharp knife, some salt and the careful application of a simple technique without any delay on the day. If you are experienced and know how to do it, do it yourself.
In Africa, North America and Canada; hunters, outfitters and guides are trained to be skilled and practiced at field dressing and raw preparation for taxidermy. These skills are a pre requisite to be an outfitter or guide. Here in the U.K unfortunately, there is no training or requirement for stalkers, agents or outfitters in the field dressing of trophies. Consequently, unless they are correctly taught, or take a genuine interest and pride in their work, the chances are that they are guessing at it.
Ultimately of course, it is the responsibility of the client, to satisfy themselves that those dealing with their valuable skins will ensure that they are professionally treated, stored and delt with.
Do your homework and plan ahead.
If you are travelling a long way, paying a premium rate, to take an animal which you will want mounting, you should rightly expect appropriate post hunt treatment of it to be the priority. Do not assume that it will be so, do some research and ask, specifically, at the planning stage, how exactly your agent, outfitter or stalker will deal with this aspect of the hunt. Do not wait until you arrive and then be shocked at a lack of forward planning or a lackluster ad hock service.
- You choose who does your work; field prep or full taxidermy, you designate your taxidermist.
- If you have a chosen taxidermist, ask if they are happy to work with them.
- Check that they have contacted your choice of taxidermist PRE HUNT.
- Cold calling unknown taxidermists at your hunt is not good practice.
- If they have a designated in-house taxidermist who is conveniently close, that is excellent, but check their work, credentials and portfolio yourself, very thoroughly, well in advance.
- Proximity and convenience are no a guarantee of ability, still less, quality
orshe is my mate and is really good” is not a recommendation, it’s a biased opinion. Check it !
- Ask about experience with export crating, packing and shipping and get details.
- Ensure that your trophies will be skinned by a competent skinner, who understands exactly how this should be done correctly for any mount including a full mount.
Before you commence a hunt check that your outfitters/guides are well equiped and prepared.
• Have the correct equipment and supplies of salt to do it.
• Have access to a chiller and dedicated freezer, for short and long term storage.
• Take the required time and effort to do the job correctly and well.
• Attach dedicated tags to each part of the trophy to ensure it remains yours.
• Invite you to see and explain the process fully.
• Ensure that they reach your designated taxidermist in perfect condition, fit to be mounted.
some tips on field dressing, if you are doing it yourself:
• Ensure that the animal is caped properly see how to cape a deer as a guide.
• If you are unsure of your caping skills or cannot store it, take your deer to an exprienced taxidermist or arrange for one to attend.
• Get it to a chiller or larder as soon as the hunt is over.
• Keep the skin fresh at all times. Never store in a car unless the outside temp is below -4
• Do not cut the neck or throat area at all. It is not necessary. Any deer can be bled through the diaphram at the gralloch.
• Never cut the brisket area, when field dressing.
• Warm weather, flies, blood and bacteria will ruin a cape in hours, especially in the back of a vehicle.
• SALT use only fine cooking or PDV (pure dried vacuum salt) Rock salt is cheap and inferior.
• USE SALT ON ALL FLESH AREAS.
• RUB SALT ON TO EYES, EAR BUTTS AND APPLY TO ALL SKIN AREAS.
• If you put your trophy in a freezer, make sure it is cold, well wrapped in polythene and tagged on the skin and horns.
If required to do so, we can, by booked arrangement with the client and oufitter or guide, attend to skin and or collect animals. We charge for this, based on a daily rate, plus expenses, fuel any stay overs etc. Contact us, if you would like to explore this option.