Tips to Help Your Taxidermist

Wow… You kill something that you never expected and as you come to a realization, your mind starts racing as to what to do…taxidermy wise. You know you want to keep this memory in some sort of a mount, but before you start field dressing the animal, you have to make some decisions. It will be these decisions and what you do in the field that determines how good of a mount your taxidermist will be able to give you.

Choose wisely!

John McAdams, over at “MultiBriefs”, has written an article¬†with some tips to ensure that you give your taxidermist the best possibility for giving you back a good mount. Let’s review those and add some real field commentary to them.

Choices, Choices…

First off, there is a delusion (I was this way) that there is only one type of mount. What most people think of when they think of an animal being mounted is the traditional head and neck of the animal. This is called a shoulder mount. But wait, there are many ways to mount game. Here is a

Courtesy of

quick list:

  1. Non-pelt Mounts
    1. European mount – this is just the upper half of the skull with the horns. All organic matter is removed and the bones are cleaned.
    2. Cap mount – this is just the cap of the skull with the horns. All organic matter is removed and cleaned.
    3. Horns only – some people have the horns removed and put on an artificial “skull” or just mounted alone.
  2. Pelt Mounts
    1. Shoulder mount – this is the head, neck and horns.
    2. Full body mount – all of the feathers or the entire hide is placed over a similar fake body and made to look like the original creature.
    3. Rug mounts – yes, this is a form of a mount. Think of a bear rug where you have a pseudo head-looking element with the hide made into a rug.

As you can see with these variations (and I am sure this list is NOT exhaustive), before your knife cuts into the animal, you need to decide how you are going to mount it.

Tips To Help Your Taxidermist

Here are the key tips John McAdams presents in his article:

  • Before you even go on your hunt, decide how you want to mount a trophy kill. Personally, I know that my general choice is going to be a European mount for any horned game, unless it is a true monster, B&C trophy. Those pelt mounts are expensive and take up A LOT of wall space.
  • Make a good shot that quickly and cleanly kills the animal. This is, more often than not, situational. Unless you are going on ranch hunts where you control all of the variables, killing game is very messy. You often take snap shots, off-hand shots, etc. Yes, attempt to do this, but do not lose a trophy trying to take military precision sniper shots.
  • Get the hide off and cooling as quickly as possible. Good point. Hide is just like meat – it spoils.
  • Take more hide for your mount than you think you should. If you are going to do the traditional shoulder mount, take the hide well behind the front shoulders. Giving your taxidermist a little extra never hurts.
  • Do not skin small animals or birds. Just take these whole.
  • Avoid dragging your animal out. Oftentimes, this is very hard to do, but attempt it. Understand that if you do drag the animal, then it will show on the hide. I have never drug an animal far that I could not see it on the hide.
  • Avoid slitting throats or wringing necks. This would also include head or neck “kill” shots. On birds, do not wring the neck.

These are some great tips. Some of these were even new for me! If you want to read the full article, you can find it here.

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