Rick Lange Taxidermy

Proven Competition Quality

Trophy Care for Sportsmen

Improper field care can ruin beautiful trophies. Animals, birds and fish all require different handling in the field. The final appearance of your trophy will only be as good as the care you give it before it is mounted.

Game heads, such as deer and antelope, seem to suffer more abuse than other trophies. Fortunately, the two leading causes of abuse - carelessness and lack of knowledge - are simple to correct.

It's easy to damage the hair of deer and antelope. Do everything possible to protect the head and shoulders of your trophy:

  • Avoid shooting a trophy animal in the head or neck, when possible;

  • Slitting the throat will damage the cape.

  • Drag by holding the antlers, keeping the head off the ground. Placing a rope around the neck will damage the cape.

  • Bring the deer in immediately or, at the latest, the following day. Don't allow it to hang in your garage for weeks or lie in the back of your pick-up.

    If you are on an extended trip and the weather is cold, the deer will keep for a few days outside. Hang it by the antlers or hind legs out of the snow and beyond the reach of animals.

    If the weather is warm and you have access to a freezer, skin the cape and freeze it. First, measure around the neck just below the bottom jaw and jot this number down.

    Next, make an incision completely around the body behind the front legs. Make the other incisions as shown (below), then peel the skin forward to the base of the skull.

    If you must skin the face, use extreme care. The skin is very thin and any holes you make will likely show. Leave 6 to 12 inches of neck bone attatched to the head and freeze.

  • Call Rick Lange Taxidermy before taking your trophy to a locker plant.

Care and Cleaning of a Trophy

Always hang deer heads on a strong nail or preferably a drywall screw driven into a stud.

Pick a spot to hang your trophy that's out of strong direct sunlight, which can bleach hair. Excessive heat from fireplaces and wood stoves may damage your mount by drying the skin too much. Locate your trophy away from heat sources.

Most importantly, place your trophy out of reach of children. Taxidermy art is not indestructible and definitely not child-proof.

To keep your trophies looking their best, dust them often with an old nylon stocking. Always wipe in the direction of the hair growth. Use a soft cloth to polish the eyes on mounts.

If you have doubts about cleaning your trophy, take it to your taxidermist. Most taxidermists will clean and repair their own work for little or no cost.

This pamphlet should answer your questions on trophy care. If not, please feel free to call with your questions.

In any case, the time to ask is before you leave on that big hunting trip. A properly mounted trophy will give you a lasting memento of your days spent outdoors. With a little effort on your part, you can have the most beautiful trophy possible.

Cut the Hide on the Dotted lines:

Cutting and Measuring for Game Heads


Wisconsin Taxidermy Association