Field & Stream Online Editors
Field & Stream Online Editors

The shot that drops the biggest buck of your life will echo with this silent question: “Now what?” Caping out the delicate skin on a deer’s face is beyond most hunters’ capabilities, but if you want a trophy mount that looks good enough to hang on the living-room wall, you’re going to have to get the neck skin and head to the taxidermist as quickly as you can, and in the best shape possible. This caping technique, which should be done before field dressing to avoid bloodying the hair and making invasive cuts that will be difficult for the taxidermist to conceal, leaves enough hide for a shoulder mount.

Step One
Slit the hide in a complete circle at the midpoint of the rib cage, 1 foot behind the shoulders. Then cut around both forelegs above the knee.

Step Two
Make twin cuts under the chest. Start from the first circular cut around the rib cage and continue along the back of one leg to join the cut you made above the knee. Then do the other leg.

Step Three:
Peel the skin forward up to the back of the ears, using your knife as little as possible to avoid nicks. Holding the skin out of the way, cut through the neck 3 inches behind the head-neck junction. Twist off the head, complete with antlers and cape, and get it to the taxidermist as quickly as possible (freeze it if the weather is warm and you can’t get to the taxidermist for several days). Don’t attempt to cape out the head itself unless you’re an expert. One mistake and you could ruin your mount.