5 Tips For A Better Deer Mount

By Jessica Graham

Shooting your first deer and biggest buck are exciting milestones in a deer hunter’s life. When these events occur, all hunters want to remember and reminisce on the memory of the hunt. One way to commemorate the memories of the hunt is to mount the deer. When you see the mount, you are reminded of the adrenaline pumping through your veins and remember the hunting scene. In order to get your deer preserved in the best possible condition, here are some recommendations from Rick Halverson of Rubline Taxidermy in Zearing, IA.

Wash Any Blood Off the Cape
Bacteria promoting hair slippage thrives in warm damp environments and when blood gets on your cape, it promotes an environment where the bacteria can flourish and grow. For this reason, when you have a deer you want to take to the taxidermist, wash off any blood from the cape as soon as you can. This includes the entrance and exit wounds. Van Dykes Taxidermy Supply recommends rubbing salt on areas of the hide that have been exposed to blood. Salting is a practice used to stop and inhibit bacterial growth.

Cool The Cape Quickly
Cooling a deer cape often is difficult to do during early season bowhunting when temperatures are warm. One suggestion Rick Halverson provided was to add ice to the cape. Cool temperatures slow the decaying process and can help preserve the integrity of the hide. Cooling the hide also discourages hair slippage. During October and November, a buck’s testosterone increases. This leads to activities such as sparring, rubbing and full out locking horns to build muscle in their necks. The increased muscle and blood flow, especially during the rut, cause a lot of heat to reside in the neck of a deer. It is important to skin the deer as soon as you can and cool the hide to preserve it.

Get Your Animal to the Taxidermist A.S.A.P.
During a conversation with another taxidermist, she shared instances where hunters will wait several days to take their deer to the taxidermist. Sometimes hunters are not sure if they want to mount a deer, or have a taxidermist do a European mount of the skull and antlers. In these cases, the hides are usually ruined, and the deer smells rank as the bacteria has already started the decaying process. It is not a fun task for the taxidermist to work on foul smelling animals. Then they can address critical issues and preserve your deer in the best way possible.

Do Not Cut Too Far into the Chest and Neck
Right after you harvest an animal you may want to mount; it is easy to get excited and rush through things, especially during field dressing. One thing hunters often do while field dressing a deer is they cut too far up the chest cavity. By doing this you are making a slit on a part of the hide the taxidermist will need for a common shoulder mount. The taxidermist must now sew and try to hide the slit, this can make it difficult to get the hair and hide to lay correctly on the mount. Rick Halverson recommends while field dressing hunters stop cutting behind the deer’s front legs. This leaves the chest uncut and helps make the best mount. Take the hide from right behind the deer’s legs forward to be used by the taxidermist.

Do not Cape The Skull
Most taxidermists do not want their clients to try and skin the hide off the skull. There are important details around the eyes and lips that tear easily. For the untrained individual, it is easy to ruin the delicate details. It is easier for them to correctly cape a deer’s skull than to try and fix mistakes caused by an untrained hand. Instead, cape your deer up to the neck and take the antlers, skull, and part of the neck and remaining cape to the taxidermist.

Mounting a deer is just one way to preserve hunting memories, and it is fun to be proud of your hunt and to share it with others. Your taxidermist still has to address other obstacles such as sewing up bullet holes, fixing the appearance of hair cut by large diameter broadheads, and keeping the hair from farther slipping. By following these 5 tips, you can help your taxidermist prepare and preserve your hunting memory.