Field Care Tips

Big Game

There are two major methods of skinning for a large life-size mount such as a deer, elk or bear. These methods are the flat incision and the dorsal method.

The Flat Incision

The flat incision is used for rug mounts and for a variety of poses. Make slits from one front paw to another across the chest and another from the back leg to back leg on the underside of the carcass. Cut the feet free from the carcass and pull the skin off. Make a final cut in the middle of the underside of the carcass from the tail to the chest. The head should be attached as with the shoulder mount.
Note: If you can’t take your hide immediately to a taxidermist, freeze it to your taxidermist’s specifications.

The Dorsal Method

The dorsal method of skinning involves a long slit down the back (from the base of the tail into the neck). The carcass is skinned as it is pulled through this incision. the feet/hooves and the head are cut off from the carcass. Only use this method when the skin can be frozen quickly after skinning

Small Mammals

Animals coyote sized or smaller, should not be skinned unless by a professional. Don’t gut the animal. Small mammals, especially carnivores, will spoil quickly because of their thin hide and bacteria. If you can’t take the small game animal immediately to a taxidermist, as soon as the carcass cools completely, put it in plastic and freeze it.


Do not gut the bird. Rinse off any blood on the feathers with water. Take the bird immediately to your taxidermist or freeze it. Put the bird into a plastic bag for freezing being careful not to damage the feathers, including the tail. If the bird’s tail feathers do not fit in the bag do not bend them. Let the tail stick out of the bag and tie the bag loosely.


Do not gut your fish. If you cannot take your fish immediately to a taxidermist, wrap it in a very wet towel and put it in a plastic bag, making sure all the fins are flat against the fish’s body to prevent breakage, and freeze it. A fish frozen with this method can be kept safely in a freezer for months.
Note: A fish will loose its coloration shortly after being caught. A good color photograph immediately after the catch may enable the taxidermist to duplicate the natural color tones of that particular fish.