Honsinger Taxidermy

Quality Whitetail Mounts

Trophy Care

From the field to the taxidermist- here is what you need to know!

The most important component to an excellent mount is an excellent hide. What takes place between the taking of your trophy and arrival at the taxidermist will affect how your mount looks when it is done, and is completely in your control.  


  • Drag forward by horns only.
  • Never cut the throat of an animal to be mounted.
  • Never slit the ear to tag your animal.
  • Never salt a hide unless it's been professionally fleshed.
  • Do not cut up the back of the neck.
  • Do not cut too far up into the chest cavity when “gutting” out your animal. Stop below the “pit” areas.
  • If you are bringing to a butcher he/she will cape otherwise;
  • Make sure you leave more than enough cape on a shoulder mount (see shoulder mount below).
  • Keep every animal or hide as cool as possible and bring in to the taxidermist as soon as possible.
  • Never use a plastic bag to store, unless you are going to freeze the animal or hide. (see freezing below)
  • Freeze hide ASAP if you are unable to deliver to taxidermist quickly. (see freezing below)


The shoulder mount is the most common way to mount a trophy big game animal. Whether you want a standard shoulder mount or a pedestal shoulder mount the caping process should be done as outlined below:

  1.  When field dressing your animal it is important to not cut past the breast bone. If you are accustomed to sawing the breast bone to field dress an animal this method will be more time consuming but is important to ensure that you have enough cape for your shoulder mount.
  2. Make a circular cut from the skin side out around the midsection of the animal half-way between the front and back legs.
  3. Make two more circular cuts all the way around each front knee of the animal.
  4. Cut up the back of each leg, following the natural hair line, until you reach the point where the leg meets the body. DO NOT CUT THROUGH THE ARMPIT.
  5. Cut straight back until you reach the original cut around the midsection. At this point no more cuts are necessary in the skin of the animal.
  6. Lift and pull the skin towards the neck and skin the animal up to the base of the neck. Cutting down the back of the neck is not necessary and this will be done by your taxidermist. (Only cut the back of the neck if you are in a back-country situation and must cape out the entire head.)
  7. Separate the neck from the body by cutting through the meat and bone just below where the skull meets the neck, being careful not to damage the cape.
  8. Get the cape and head cooled down and to your taxidermist as quickly as possible.


Freezing a hide incorrectly can damage the hide over time. Freezing can cause certain areas of the hide, especially the face and ears, to dry out. A hide should be brought into a taxidermist as soon as possible in order to provide the best hide possible for your mount. Following the tips below will help keep your hide in the best possible condition when the hide is frozen:

  • Do not roll up the hide before freezing, instead fold the hide skin to skin and then fold again in roughly 1 foot folds. Rolling the hide causes the outer portion to thaw out faster than the inner portion and takes longer to thaw out.
  • If the hide will be frozen for a while, wrap the head and feet in a wet towel and then fold up and freeze.
  • Place the folded hide in a plastic bag getting as much air out as possible. Twisting and duct taping the bag's opening will also help to keep air out. Vacuum sealing also works very well if the hide will be frozen long term.
  • Bring your frozen hide or animal to the taxidermist within a few months if possible.