After you get your animal down, it is very important to remove the hide from the body as soon as possible. This is especially important in warm or hot conditions such as our antelope hunts. The heat trapped under the skin can cause the hide to spoil very quickly if left on.
You will need to decide what type of mount you want to have before skinning. For s standard full shoulder mount on a game head, make a cut starting between the ears and cut down the top of the neck along the backbone to well past the shoulders about one foot. Never cut the throat or the front of the neck. From the end of this cut go around the body at the rib cage to leave plenty of hide. Either pull the hide down the legs or cut on the back side of the leg to the body and straight back to the cut around the body. The skin can be cut of above the knees. Next, remove the skull from the neck meat at the back of the skull. Usually you can leave the skull inside and not have to remove it in the field. If you want a half mount or long pedestal pose, remove the hide further back around the flank area. Better to have too much skin rather than being short.
On rug mounts, cut down the under side from the chest to the tail down the belly Cut , from the inside of the paw or hoof up the inside of the leg across the body to meet the first belly cut. Cut through the wrist and ankles bone and meat and pull hide off the body up to back of skull and remove skull and leave head inside.
If your pose is to be a full mount you might talk to your taxidermist to see what method he prefers. You can skin as in the above description for rugs, or make a dorsal cut from the back of the skull down the backbone to the tail. Separate the skin from the body on the sides and push each leg up to turn inside out and peel down to the feet and cut through bone at wrist and ankles. Leave feet in hide and remove hide up to back of skull again. With this method, there are no seams showing on the legs and belly of the mount and the hair on the back is usually long enough to hide the seam.
Keep the hide as cool as possible and if you can, wash any blood off of the hair, especially on white or light colored hair .before it stains. Get the hide to the taxidermist as soon as possible but if will be some time before you can, remove as much meat and fat as you can before salting. Try not to get much salt on the face as it dries it out and makes it very difficult to turn the lips and ears ext. without cutting holes.
For fish and birds, do not gut and keep on ice or frozen under you can deliver them. If you have any questions just call and good luck on your hunts.
D L Gruben
American Wildlife Taxidermy
Albuquerque, New Mexico