Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
Georgia state law prohibits importation of any whole carcass or carcass parts from any
state with a documented case of CWD except:
As of August 2007, the presence of CWD has been verified in: Colorado, Illinois, Kansas
Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, West
Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Your deer head must be caped out before it crosses the Georgia line. Pittman's Taxidermy
Studio can assist you before your hunt to ensure you take the correct steps or procedures in
caping your trophy. PTS can not and will not accept any deer not properly caped out from these
states. It is every hunter's responsibility to know the rules and regulations of the state you will
|Quality Taxidermy Isn't
|How to Cape Your Animal for a Trophy Mount
Caping, the process of skinning out a trophy animal, is best left to a certified taxidermist. Their experience skinning, especially the
delicate nose, mouth, eyes, and ears, is invaluable toward producing a quality mount.
Damage to a hide is costly to repair; some types of damage simply cannot be "fixed" by the taxidermist. Many trophies are ruined in
the first few hours after death. As soon as the animal dies, bacteria begin to attack the carcass. Warm, humid weather accelerates
bacteria growth. In remote areas, or an area 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. Contact your taxidermist prior to your hunt in order to get instructions on
their caping requirements. However, the following techniques are generally acceptable.
Skinning Life-Size Big Game
There are two major methods of skinning for large life size mount such as,
deer, elk or bear. These methods are the flat incision and the dorsal method.
The Flat Incision
The flat incision is used for rug mounts and a variety of poses.
The areas to be cut are shown in Figure 1, at right. Make these
slits (cutting the feet free from the carcass) and pull the skin off the carcass.
The head is detached as with the shoulder mount.
The Dorsal Method
The dorsal method of skinning involves a long slit down the back, from the tail base up into the neck. The carcass is skinned as it is
pulled through this incision. The feet, hooves, and head are cut off from the carcass as with a shoulder mount (explained below). Only
use this method with prior approval and detailed instruction from your taxidermist, and only when the skin can be frozen quickly after
NOTE: If you can't take your hide immediately to a taxidermist, freeze it to your taxidermist's specifications.
How to Cape Your Animal for a Shoulder Mount
1. 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.
2. Slit the skin around the legs just above the knees.
3. An additional slit will be needed from the back of the legs.
(Figure 2A and 2B.)
4. Peel the skin forward up to the ears and jaw, exposing the
5. Cut into the neck approximately three inches down from this
junction and circle the neck, cutting down to the spinal column.
6. 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. Remember, the taxidermist can cut off excess hide but can't add what
you have already removed.
NOTE: When field dressing a trophy to be mounted, don't cut into the brisket (chest) or neck area. If blood gets on the hide to be
mounted, wash it off with snow or water as soon as possible. Also, avoid dragging the deer out of the woods with a rope. The rope,
rocks or a broken branch from a deadfall can easily damage the fur or puncture the hide. Place it on a sled, rickshaw, or 4-wheeler. If
you need to drag it out with a rope, attach the rope to the base of the antlers and drag your trophy carefully.
** The most common problem I encounter, is the brisket (chest) being cut to short or
split to far up.
** Another very common problem is freezer burn, from not being properly sealed or
just left in the freezer to long.
**If you have any doubt about any of these instructions (especially, on life-size big
game), please call me before your hunt or as soon as possible after harvesting your
**Slipping is another very common problem, this is when the hair begins to fall out
of the hide. This is do to not being frozen soon enough.
Animals that are coyote-sized or smaller should only be skinned by a professional. Do not gut the animal. Small mammals (especially
carnivores) will spoil quickly because of their thin hide and the bacteria they carry. If you can't take the small game animal immediately
to a taxidermist, put it in in a plastic bag as soon as the carcass cools completely, and freeze it. With rabies evident in many areas of the
country, take every safety measure necessary when handling your game
Do not gut the bird. Rinse off any 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.
Do not gut your fish. If you can't take your fish to a taxidermist immediately, wrap it in a very wet towel and put it in a plastic bag.
Make 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: a fish will loose its coloration shortly after being caught. A good color photograph immediately after the
catch may enable the taxidermist to duplicate the natural color tones of that particular fish.
Always have appropriate tags with your trophies when you take them to your taxidermist.
Do not cut the ears for re-attachment.
Songbirds, eagles, hawks, and owls are protected by Federal law; they cannot not be mounted without a special Federal permit.
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 salt the hide in the field. This is the only method in remote locations that can preserve your hide for
Because of the various diseases that wild game can transmit to humans, always use extreme caution when handling a carcass. Use
rubber or latex gloves, and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after handling any kind of carcass.
©2000 McKenzie Taxidermy Supply