Field Preparation of Rug Mount

These are the instructions to use for bears, big cats etc. The same procedure can be used on zebra flat skin.

Cut the inside of the legs to the middle of the chest and stomach. Make sure you cut down the middle of the stomach to ensure that the finished skin is symmetrical. Cut from the middle of the stomach to the top of the throat, ending at the end of the lower jaw. Pull and press as much of the skin as possible. Only use a blunt knife if absolutely necessary.

Use a knife to clean the skin from meat and fat. Bears have a large amount of fat, and it is advised to skin carefully and get the fat off the skin. Remove bones, claws and hooves paying particular attention to the small foot bones in the last part of the paws of a bear. If you do not remove the small foot bones, the claws will fall off the skin during the tanning process.

Cut the skin from the skull. Cut the ears off close to the skull and continue forwards. Be careful that you do not cut all the way through the eyelids. Placing a finger in the eye hole will give you a good idea of the cutting.

Remove the skin carefully from the eyes and the rest of the skull. Cut almost through the nose and lips to secure good penetration of the salt.

Your trophy is now ready for final cleaning.

Now, a very important part of the field preparation – the ears. Many trophy hunters have received trophies where the ears are rotten because of bad skinning and salting. Ears, nose, eye lids and lips must be skinned and salted correctly. Ears must be turned inside out by using a blunt stick or similar.

The next step is to cut the skin free from the mouth. Put a finger in the mouth and pull away the jaw while cutting. Cut the cartilage almost through, to ensure salt penetration.

Now your skin is ready to be frozen. Roll it up and put it in a bag. Remember to put your trophy tags on the skin. Do not apply salt if you are going to freeze your trophy as salt lowers the freezing temperature. If you do not want to freeze your skin it is now time to salt and dry it.

First split the lips, cutting them open from the inside, to ensure salt penetration. Remember that salt only penetrates approximately 5mm into the skin.

Place the skin meat side up. Remove all meat and fat. Rub the skin thoroughly with new salt. If the skin is very thick, you can slice it on the meat side, for better salt penetration. Be extra careful to rub the salt into ears, lips, eye lids and nose. Bullet holes also need extra salt. Be sure to use new salt. You can easily use 3kg of salt.

In rug mount preparation never place the skin in the sun, and never in a plastic bag. Leave it in the salt for approximately 24 hours. Replace the salt. Many people fail to do this – do not be one of them. Leave the skin in the new salt until almost completely dry. Take the skin out of the salt and give it a good coating of insecticide. Pay extra attention to ears, nose, eye lids etc.

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 trophy – horns, skull, skins etc. You can get trophy tags, free of charge, from First Class Trophy.

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