Field Preparation Advice
Make the most of your trophy
Karoo Taxidermy prides itself in delivering the highest standard of work to our clients, but in order for us to do that, we require a well prepped canvas, in other words quality raw material. Animal skins which forms an integral part of the taxidermy process, can be classified as perishable goods and must be treated with care. By following some simple guidelines, damage such as hair slip can be avoided.
At all costs, avoid shooting the head or neck. These holes formed as a result are difficult to camoflage. Use full metal jacketed bullets (solids) on small animals.
Transporting of carcass
Do not drag the animal over the ground at all or onto the loading vehicle.
When loading the animal onto the hunting vehicle, use padding (dry grass or soft leafy branches) under the head and neck for protection. Cover the carcass to protect from the sun.
The animal must be skinned as soon as possible to prevent bacterial activity and resulting hairslip. It is important to ensure that all flesh is removed from the skin.
For flatskins or rugs: Cut from the tip of the tail along the centre of the belly to the centre of the chin to ensure an even colour pattern.
Capes for shoulder mounts: Cut a V-line from the top of the head to the horns, cutting carefully around the horns without cutting off the hair. Then cut straight down the back of the neck to well behind the shoulders. Take off the cape by carefully skinning around the eyes, turning the ears and splitting the lips.
For animals with manes, make the cut on the side that the mane is hanging to, down the back of the neck about 2cm away from the mane. Otherwise, if the animal is to be mounted looking to the left, cut to the right of the main.
Washing of skins
Immediately after skinning, wash the skin thoroughly to remove all blood. Use cold fresh water to which bactericide eg. Phenol has been added.
Salting and drying of skins
After drip-drying for a few minutes, the skin is ready for salting. Salt liberally, ensuring that you rub salt well into all the folds of the skin. Roll the salted skin up and leave it in a cool place. After 3-4 days, hang the skin to dry.
- Use pan salt rather than sea salt to prevent wrinkles and a skin that does not stretch enough after tanning
- Dry salt is better than brine (salt and water solution). If brine is used, it is essential to add bactericide.
- Salt only removes moisture, it does not remove bacteria. If you happen to put salt on a skin that is already bad and reuse the salt for a second skin, you will ruin the second skin as well.
- Ensure that skin is not in contact with metal while drying as rust stains are almost impossible to remove.
Transporting of skins
Fresh wet skins must never be transported, as damage and hair slip can occur. Skins must always be at least partly dry before transportation. Pack skins in a bucket or similar open container. Never use plastic bags.
Cleaning of skulls
Cut away as much flesh as possible and remove the eyes and brain. Fill the cranium with water and scratch out the brain as well as possible, repeating the process a few times.
Leave the skull in a bucket of clean, cold water for a few days. Change the water daily to prevent discolouration of the skull.
Salt the skull well and leave to dry or cook the skull for a short while and remove all flesh. When you handle the skulls, whether you cook it or not, make sure not to damage any parts of the bone. Especially the lip and nose bones. This is important especially in the case of European mounts.
Storing of trophies
Store trophies in a cool, dry place. Use Karba-dust on the skins to keep insects away and Naphtalene on the floor to keep rodents away.
Deliver trophies to your taxidermist as soon as possible.
Birds and reptiles
Freeze as soon as possible without taking out the intestines.
Note: Only classified game birds can be exported. Most other birds are protected in South Africa and need a special "permit to kill".