Many hunters believe that taxidermist are magicians and can “fix anything”; it just isn’t so. High powered rifles and magnum loaded shotguns can do irreparable damage to big game animals or delicate feathered birds. The mount will only be as good as the specimen presented, so use common sense and eliminate hard feelings and misunderstandings later. Some things just can’t be fixed.
Many trophies are ruined in the first few hours after death. Bacteria will attack your specimen in just a short time. Whitetails and all large game should be skinned by a competent person, leaving the head intact and a large cape. Refrigerate the head/ skin, or freeze solid. Get the specimen to the taxidermist as soon as possible.
Blood is also another troublesome agent. Blood left on white feathers or white hair may stain the specimen permanently. Wash blood off immediately with wet paper towels or anything available. The key here is immediate attention, this applies to all species, not just light colored ones.
Never cut the throat, or make any unnecessary cuts on horned or antlered game. This could virtually ruin your trophy. Always leave plenty of cape for the taxidermist to work with. The cut should always extend beyond the front leg. Consult your taxidermist for his/her preferences when it comes to skinning/caping an animal.
Photographs of fish, habitat, and anything pertinent to the desired finished mount are very important. Don’t trust your memory… photograph it! This will help the taxidermist and insure you will get a mount more like you had pictured.
Smaller animals should be left intact, and never field dress birds. Simply wipe all blood from them, keep tails, feathers and fur smooth and tucked into the body. Wrap the specimen in several layers of regular freezer wrap and freeze flat or in a natural position. Specimens can also be wrapped in sturdy plastic bags after the body heat has dissipated. Squeeze out as much air as possible and close the bag tightly. Again, the animal should be shipped or taken to the taxidermist as soon as possible.
Use common sense and keep in mind the taxidermist might be good, but isn’t a magician… they just can’t “fix” everything. Present them with a good quality specimen and they will do their best to return a life-like professional mount!