Field Preparation For Full Mount
First, cut on the back of the front legs until you reach the ‘armpit’ at the middle of the chest.
On the hind legs, follow the natural hairline on the back of the legs. Your cut must continue all the way to the area in front of the anal opening. Now cut the skin down the middle of the stomach (cut along the one side of the testicals, leaving all the ‘the private parts’ on the skin.) Hooves can stay on the bones, but the foot bone must be cut off at the hoof.
From a point approximately 5cm behind the horns, cut the skin on top of the neck of the animal, making sure you make this cut just big enough to pull the head through the opening.
From the point where you started cutting from the horns, cut in a ‘y’ shape until you reach the base of the horns. Carefully cut the ears off the skull and then gently loosen the skin around the base of the horns. Cut the skin off until you reach the eyes. Be extra careful with the eyes and eye lids. Place a finger in the eye hole while cutting as this gives you a good idea of where to cut.
Be careful with the tear channels that are found on some species as they can be fastened into the skull and must be removed carefully.
When the skin is completely off the eyes, take the skin off the rest of the skull.
Cut the nose almost all the way through and remove the cartilage so that the salt can penetrate.
Your skull is now ready to be cleaned, boiled and bleached.
Now to the very important and often neglected part of full mount preparation – skinning the ears.
Many trophy hunters have received their trophies with the ears, noses or eyelids rotten. This is because the skinning was done incorrectly and the salt did not penetrate properly. The easiest way to do it is to turn the ears inside out by using a blunt stick, a teaspoon or similar. No sharp tools must be used.
When the skin is completely loosened all the way to the tip of the ear, the ear can be turned inside out to ensure that the salt penetrates properly. Remember that salt only penetrates approximately 5mm into the skin. This job is very important and time consuming but it is essential to ensure that your trophies are handled correctly.
The next step is to cut the skin free from the mouth. Put a finger into the mouth and pull the lip away while you are cutting.
Cut almost through the cartilage that forms the nose, to ensure that the salt will penetrate.
Now your trophy is ready to be frozen. Roll it up and put it in a bag. Remember to put trophy tags on your trophies. Do not apply salt if you are going to freeze the trophy, as salt lowers the freezing temperature.
If you do not want to freeze your trophy, it is now time to salt and dry it.
First split the lips by cutting them open from the inside to ensure good salt penetration. Remember that salt only penetrates approximately 5mm so this job must be done carefully.
Place the skin with the meat side up. Remove all meat and fat and clean the skin carefully. If the skin is thick you can make a few cuts on the meat side, to ensure better salt penetration. Take your time and make sure that the salt is rubbed into the skin all over – especially ears, nose, eye lids and around bullet or arrow holes. It is important to make sure you give it enough fresh salt. You can easily use up to 5kg on one skin.
In full mount preparation, ever place the skin in direct sunlight or in a plastic bag. Leave the skin in the salt for 24 hours, to remove all moisture. Change the salt (this is where many people fail). Leave the skin in the new salt until almost completely dry. When dry, remove the skin from the salt and give it a good coating of insecticide. Pay attention that the powder gets into all the small places, especially ears, eye lids and nose.
After approximately 14 days, depending on the weather, your trophy will be ready to be sent to your taxidermist. Remember to put trophy tags on all parts of your trophies – horns, skulls, skins etc. You can get trophy tags, free of charge, from First Class Trophy.
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