So, you’ve killed your first game animal, and you want to turn it into a trophy to remember the hunt. Your first idea might be to field dress it, but hold on — that might not be the best idea.
Scott Moore, owner of Mountain Man Taxidermy, says the first thing you should do is cut the skin behind the shoulder and handle it gently. Do not cut the animal’s throat or let large amount of blood touch the cape or hide, as blood can ruin it and is difficult to wash off.
After making the cuts, be sure not to expose the carcass to excessive heat, and keep it away from direct sunlight as much as possible. Keep it covered, and be sure it is secured when transporting it to a taxidermist, which should be done as quickly as possible. Doing these things will make it easier on the taxidermist to work on your hard-earned trophy.
“It is best to try to bring it in whole,” Moore said. “Keeping it cool is important. It is a disaster to put together if the wrong cuts are made and if they are not preserved properly.”
The cuts should be straight and even, Moore said. Uneven cuts and blood on the hide will make it difficult for the taxidermist to work on. It is important to preserve as much of the game as possible after killing it.
Moore noted that many hunters remove the genitals from game animals, a practice he doesn’t recommend if the animal is to be mounted, as it leaves a large hole that becomes difficult to work around it.
Moore has been a taxidermist for about 26 years and has owned Mountain Man Taxidermy about 20 years. He was the apprentice of the former owner, Bob Barton, from whom he eventually bought the business. He said he has always liked animals and was fascinated with taxidermy when he was younger.
“I always wanted to do this,” Moore said. “When I finished high school, there was two paths I had for myself. Either become a wildlife biologist or become a taxidermist.”
Moore said he sees taxidermy as an art, and he enjoys trying to bring life back to the animals he works on, preserving a memory for a hunter. When he presents the finished work to his clients, memories of their hunts seem to flood back to them, he said.
“When they see it, they just seem to remember every little details of their hunt like it just happened,” Moore said. “They remember where they were and how they made their shot. It is something a photograph just can’t do.”
Each project takes 10 to 12 hours of work, Moore said, and the turnaround time on most of his projects is about 12 months.