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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
well I drew an le elk tag, so I need to be prepared to drop off an animal to the taxidermist. I have never caped an animal. any tips or decent dvd's worth buying? I've been watching a few youtube videos and what not. Thanks for any info or tips.
 

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Dallan is right. I did this last year before my wife's antelope hunt and the taxidermist actually had some good pointers. One was to not use a razor knife when caping an animal as it cuts the skin and the hair. Using a standard blade cuts the skin and parts the hair leaving it in place where it will be sewed later.------SS
 

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Yep pick out a taxi before hand and do it the way he/she wants it done.
Lots of stuff on youtube. Not sure if its all good but caping really isn't that hard unless you plan to turn the eyes/lips/nose yourself in the field. Oh yeah - the taxi can through excess hide away but he can't make more appear out of nowhere so don't short him.
Congrats on the tag.
 

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Also, cut or split the cape down the back of the neck from the base of the skull all the way down to at least the middle of the ribcage. Don't do it from the ribcage up to the base of the skull. Make a small incision first with the tip of your knife, then split from underneath the skin angling your blade tip down away from you at a 45 deg angle or so. A lot of guys that bring animals in to us for a shoulder mount also short themselves by cutting the cape off to close to the front legs. A good place to cut it off is toward the back of the ribcage. Better to have it and not need it then to need it and wish you had it!

Depending on how warm it is, don't cape the face - let the taxi do it. If it is warm and you feel compelled to cape out the face yourself, I would recommend you do it with a scalpel and stay stay stay up against the bone everywhere and take your time.

Remember - heat will cause the hair to slip after and during tanning if it is not cooled out properly and/or salted. Do not under any circumstances put salt on the cape and then toss in the freezer.

If you are doing the "gutless" method for packout, this works really well by doing a dorsal cut all the way to the tail. Lay the animal on its side and skin completely half the animal, de-bone, and then flip it over and do the other side. This will also help you to tube skin out the front legs for your cape. Do not cut through the armpit of the animal as the stitching may show up on the mount.

Sorry- don't mean to lecture or tell you what to do.
 

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Some good info so far. I'd add do not salt the cape unless you have fully prepared it for salt. If you don't know what that means then do not salt it.

Best info though is to pick out a taxidermist before your hunt and see what needs to be to care for the animal. Any decent taxidermist would be happy to show you what to do. I know who I'd pick, but there are many decent taxidermists out there.
 

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Grab a roadkill doe head or two and practice! I worked for a taxidermist for 6 years as a shop hand. I've caped thousands of heads and taught dozens of people. One thing people all have in common is they almost always destroy the first skin they cape. If no roadkill ask your taxi if he has any heads in the freezer you can practice on.

Sharp knife, small strokes.
 

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Bjorne Lou Tsar
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
not sure I wanna mess with trying to take the cape off the face.... It would definitely make my life easier packing it out but since I've never done it before I don't want to screw up the delicate areas.
 

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I'll be taking my taxadermist with me on my LE hunt. It sure helps that he's my brother. I've never caped a face out and having watched him do it. I wouldn't have the patience to do it on the side of a mountain when darkness is closing in. Ill just light a fire and hold the flashlight while he tries not to lose my taxidermy business... Click on the link below to see some of his work.
 

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Bjorne Lou Tsar
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not sure I wanna mess with trying to take the cape off the face.... It would definitely make my life easier packing it out but since I've never done it before I don't want to screw up the delicate areas.
I know it's much easier on bears but Dallan is the first person I've seen cape an antelope/deer/elk face from the mouth back. It looks like the best way to go.
Just be careful making your initial cut around the eyes. Once you start an eye it becomes easier. There's a hole kinda where the tearduct should be. It's called the preobital gland. Cut that out of it's hole. Don't slice across it. It's one of the easiest things for a taxi to repair but it's just extra work for him.
I hope you get a big one this fall! Chuck
 

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One thing though, Dallan used a shifty-looking character as a model for his photos. :)
Hah! Were you referring to me or Packout? I'll assume packout for now... :mrgreen:

He did the skinning on the skull, I gave him the cape. We hunted up in WY17 and you would get some really old black faced goats up there with small horns. The capes looked cool, just finding a goat over 14" was really rare.

But any of the pictures with gloves on was the professional at work.

-DallanC
 

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I know it's much easier on bears but Dallan is the first person I've seen cape an antelope/deer/elk face from the mouth back. It looks like the best way to go.
Just be careful making your initial cut around the eyes. Once you start an eye it becomes easier. There's a hole kinda where the tearduct should be. It's called the preobital gland. Cut that out of it's hole. Don't slice across it. It's one of the easiest things for a taxi to repair but it's just extra work for him.
Yep, skinning from the mouth back is by far the easiest. Yep, the pre-orbital gland is the place most guys make one and a big mistake on caping.

Caping lasts an hour but the mount lasts a lifetime, yes?
 

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Just a couple of things I see a lot when guys do the caping on their own.

Cuts at the back of the eye - put your off hand index finger tip in there as shown on the tutorial. If you don't you are very likely to cut a hole there.

Cuts through the gland in front of the eye - This area is not like the ear canal. It's not a tube that must be lopped off. It's more like an armpit. Pull tight as you gently cut this area loose and you will get the whole pocket of skin.

Skin and hair left around the antler burr once the hide has been removed - You can remove 100% of the skin and hair from this area without even using a knife. It's harder on elk than it is on deer, but it can still be done by just starting a small cut with your knife and then inserting something strong like a heavy screwdriver under the skin. Force the skin loose as you work your way around the pedical. It's pretty easy once you've seen it done a time or two. Talk to your taxidermist about this as well. The pro's of doing it this way are that the skin will fit back up to the horn burr correctly if it's removed this way. If you just hack a straight (or semi straight) line all the way around then you've just removed part of the cape and you can't get it back. WARNING! This can leave marks on the skull so if you are considering a European mount then use caution.

Cuts at the back corner of the mouth - By beginning at the mouth and working your way back you will eliminate this mistake. If you try to cape the whole thing off from the back you will not be able to determine where the papilla end and the lip begins until....... OOPS!

Dried out ears, nose & eye lids from riding around in the back of a truck to long. - Just take it to the taxidermist as soon as you can. He/she can remove the cape and antlers and THEN you can take the time to show all of your buddies. No matter how good the taxi is if you don't take care of your cape it WILL show in one way or another.

40 lb. extra neck meat carried for nothing - Someone said earlier in this thread that if you can leave the skinning of the head to the taxidermist that is best. I agree 100%. If you are able to do that then cut the neck off at the very last vertebrate that attaches to the skull. If a hunk of neck meat is left it will hold in more heat than you can imagine, and it will also add a lot of extra weight to your pack for nothing. You don't need a saw, just feel your way around in between the vertebrate and you'll be able to remove all of the neck.

Good luck on your hunt!!
 
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