Field Preparation for Shoulder Mount
Make the first cut all the way around the animal, in a circle, behind the front legs. Make sure you have enough skin for the taxidermist to work with. It is better to cut too far back, than to cut the skin too far forward. Remember that skins for shoulder mounts must NEVER be cut in front or at the throat.
If possible, keep the trophy frozen and let us take the skin from the skull.
Next, loosen the skin all the way around the neck and pull and roll the skin all the way to the neck. Then cut the head from the neck. Put the head in your freezer and bring it to us, or send it to us. It is very important to always call us and get an order number and packing instructions before you send anything to us.
If it is not possible to keep the trophy frozen, or the trophy is too big for your freezer, the head skin must come off the skull. Start at the bottom and slowly cut towards the ears. Stop cutting when you reach the point between the ears.
From that point you cut in a ‘y’ shape until you reach the base of the horns. Cut the ears free from the skull. Loosen the skin around the horns. Cut the skin off until you get to the eyes. Be very careful not to damage the eyelids. Place one finger in the eye of the animal while cutting. This will make sure that you cut gently and it gives you a good indication of where to cut.
Be careful not to cut the tear channel that is found on some animals. It may be fastened into the skull itself and needs to be removed. Loosen it carefully with the tip of your knife.
When the skin has been carefully removed from the eyes, cut the rest of the skin off the skull.
Be careful not to cut through the nose. Make a cut inside the nose to remove all cartilage.
Now the skull is ready to be cleaned, boiled and bleached.
Now to the most important part of skinning – the ears.
Quite a lot of trophy hunters have received their trophies with the ears rotten as a result of bad skinning. Ears are very important and they need to be turned inside out so that the salt can penetrate.
The easiest way is to turn and twist the ears inside out with a blunt stick or a blunt screwdriver. This can take some time, but must be done correctly with NO shortcuts.
The next step is to cut the skin free from the mouth. Put your finger in the side of the mouth and pull the jaw away, while you cut close to the skull.
Cut through the cartilage that forms the nose, to make space for the salt to penetrate.
Now your trophy is ready to be frozen. Roll it up and put it in a bag. Seal it and mark the trophy with trophy tags. Do not apply salt if you are freezing the trophy as salt will lower the freezing temperature. If you are not freezing your trophy, now is the time to salt it and dry it.
First you split the lips by cutting them from the inside to ensure that the salt will penetrate all the way through. Remember that the salt will only penetrate approximately 5mm. This job is very important and time consuming so take your time and get it done correctly. Remember that the trophy must last forever, so the field preparation is of the utmost importance.
Next, place the skin with the meat side up. Remove all meat and fat from the skin. Rub salt thoroughly into the skin, ears and nose parts. If the skin is vey thick you can slice it a bit on the meat side to ensure better salt penetration. Pay carefully attention to the salt on the ears, nose and mouth parts and the bullet or arrow hole. Dont be shy when applying the salt. A skin for a shoulder mount will easily take 2kg of salt. Always use new salt.
Never place the skin in sunlight and never put it in a plastic bag. Leave the trophy in the salt for 24 hours to make sure that all the moisture is out. After 24 hours, change the salt. This is where many people fail. When the skin is almost dry, give it a good coating of insecticide, paying particular attention to the ears, nose, eyes and lips, as well as any folds in the skin.
If in doubt, contact us for information.
Leave the skin to dry for approximately two weeks, depending on weather conditions. Your trophy is now ready to be sent to your taxidermist. Remember to put trophy tags on all parts of your trophy: horns, skulls, skin for shoulder mount or full mount and back skins. You can get trophy tags for free, from First Class Trophy. Contact head office – firstname.lastname@example.org