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Skinning is the process of removing the hide from a game animal.
* Using a sharp knife make initial cut 4” behind front legs and cut around the entire animal.
* Second cut starts at initial cut at the top of the back. Second cut runs along the back of the neck and stops 2” back behind the antlers. Split the second cut to form a “Y” running to the rear base of each antler.
* Cut hide around each front leg at the knee. Start next cut at the back of the knee and cut hide up the back of front leg to the top of the front leg. Then angle cut back to meet the initial cut. Repeat this cut for the other front leg.
On antlered game, a heavy screwdriver with a 1/4” blade is useful in prying hide loose from around the antler bases. On horned game carefully use a knife to cut between the hair and horn junction. Take the time to pull the hair down and away from the horn base to avoid cutting hair with the knife.
Begin to separate the hide along the neck incision taking extra care at the ears, eyes and lips. Cut the ear canal close to the skull. It is always attached farther back and lower than you think. If you place your finger in the ear canal it will help determine this point. Take care not to cut the tip of you finger. Again using your finger as a guide skin around the eyes cutting close to the skull. Be aware of the tear duct at the front of the eyes. You'll have to carefully cut or pry tear duct out of the depression in the skull. The lips should be cut close to the skull taking extra time leaving all lip and gum material attached to the hide.
Make sure the cape is long enough for a shoulder mount. The cape should include the area behind the front legs. Being sure to include the full brisket and complete armpits. The antlers can be removed by a saw cut from the rear of the skull towards the center of the eye socket. And a second cut starting above the eye socket connecting with the first cut.
Congratulations you've successfully caped your big game animal. At this point you should take the cape to your taxidermist. Depending on weather and cape storage conditions, determine the amount of time you have. If you can freeze or place cape in cold storage this is preferable. Treat cape as well or better than your meat. Keep it dry, cool and bug free. Take care not to have the hide dry out. Two main factors, heat and moisture cause bacterial growth, the cause of hair slip. Eliminate or reduce these factors and you increase the quality of your trophy.
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