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Welcome



Now to cape out for a shoulder mount trophy? I get asked this question a lot.


Hi, I’m Tony Bianco from Tony Bianco Taxidermy. 


My wife Tracy and I have been running a taxidermy business at Maleny on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast for the past 27 years mounting animals from around the globe.


I am going to show you how to cape/skin for a shoulder mount trophy, but first, we will go back to basics and show you the tools you will need. 


Awards


Tony Bianco Taxidermy was awarded:
"Winner 2016 Australian Taxidermy Competition".
"Best in show".
"Competitors choice".
"Best in open class"."Best life size mount"."Peoples choice".016 Taxidermy Awards Australia

I recommend  (pic1.)


I recommend as an all-around hunting knife an 11cm long blade with a skinning configuration.

Sharp Knife   (pic2.)


A good quality sharpening stone (smooth) and a light lubricant oil is also recommended.

So let's begin...First of all, you will need two good quality hunting knives.


I recommend as an all-around hunting knife an 11cm long blade with a skinning configuration.


The second knife can be the same length, but the blade to come more to a point and used for finishing the cape/head skin.


You will also need a good quality smooth sharpening steel and a flat end averaged sized screw driver can also be handy I will talk about the use of the screw driver in the part on caping out.


You will also need a good quality smooth sharpening Steele and a flat end averaged sized screw driver can also be handy I will talk about the use of the screw driver in the part on turning the ears.  


To sharpen your knife on the stone, hold your knife on a slight angle moving it across the top of the stone in both directions on both sides of the knife. You are trying to create a fine edge on you knife. Keep repeating this action and test you knife after a period of time against your thumb to see if it is sharp. Once it feels sharp run your knife lightly down each side of the Steele to create that razor edge. Pic 2


After sharpening many a knife on our stone it can become clogged, this can be rectified with cleaning and rinsing with kerosene.


Once you have your animal on the ground the first cut to make is 10cm behind the front leg, cutting a ring around the girth of

the animal ending up where you first started. Pic 3270.

The next cuts will be halfway down each front leg cutting a ring around both. Next you will cut from the ring of each front leg to the ring around the girth.


Cut directly behind the leg towards the ring around the girth. Make sure you don't go on the inside as this could make your cape short. Pic 3271 

Roll the animal onto its belly. Now cut from in between its shoulder blade to the back of its head. Pic 3273

You are now ready to skin the animal out, which is separating the skin from the carcass. Holding the skin in one hand and your knife in the other lightly pulling the skin and slicing through the sinew leaving as much meat as you can on the carcass and without any holes in the skin as possible.


You'll find it's easier to skin off one side and then roll the animal to the other side finishing the skinning at the back of the head attached to the neck. Pic 3274

To remove the head from the neck pulling the skin forward being careful not to cut through the skin, cut deep through the neck and throat until you come in contact with the neck bone.


Using the point of the knife cut into the last vertebra of the neck that's attached to the skull. Now by twisting the head you will be able to severe the head from the neck. Pic 3275

Next I'll show you how to remove the cape/skin from the head. Start by cutting a “V” at the back of the head running to each antler. Pic 3279 

Then, cut the skin away from the inside of the mouth this will make it easier for removing the cape further on. Pic 3280

Continue back to where you made the “V” incision at the of the head, by slowly cutting the skin away from the skull. Make sure you cut the ear butts hard up against the skull, and then continue down to the eyes taking your time not to cut through the skin. Pic 3282,3283. 

Proceed carefully by cutting and removing the skin from around the face of the animal. Pic 3284. 

Eventually meeting up to the back of the mouth, which will free the skin from the skull. Now you have successfully removed the whole cape for a shoulder mount. Pic 3286,3289 

Eventually meeting up to the back of the mouth, which will free the skin from the skull. Now you have successfully removed the whole cape for a shoulder mount. Pic 3286,3289 

You now have two options.


1. You can freeze the cape now by loosely folding it and placing it in the freezer. (do not roll it up tight as this can cause heat to be trapped in the skin which can cause hair slip).

You now have two options.


2. You can salt the cape, but before you do you will need to split the lips and turn the ears inside out.

First of all make sure your knife is razor sharp or it you prefer you could use a large scalpel. Start by skinning the skin away from the butt of the ear until you reach the bottom of the ear cartilage. Taking care not to cut any holes through the front part of the ear. Pic 3066

Now lightly cut the cartilage on top all the way round on the exposed back part of the ear, by doing this you are severing the sinew attached to the cartilage. This will then help turn the ear more freely as the skin will want to separate from the ear cartilage. Pic 3291

Put your knife down and push your thumb inside the skinned area pocketing the ear inside and slowly opening up and turning the ear inside out. Pic 3068

It should turn inside out reasonably easy, if not cut the back of the ear cartilage again with your knife to free up the sinew, push and pry the ear back with your thumbs and fingers.


Once you're near the end of the ear put your screw driver or even your steele inside the ear. Pic 3070

This will help to keep the ear upright while your turn the top of the inside out. Now pay attention to the ear butt again as there will be meat still attached to the cartilage just cut this off and repeat this process to the other ear. You should end up with a nicely turned out ear like this one. Pic.3293

Next to split the lips and nose. What you need to do is to separate the inner lip away from the side of the mouth and continue doing this all around the mouth as shown. Pic 3075 

and then also on the bottom lip as shown in pic 3298

Now draw your attention to the nose, there is a cartilage in this section that need to be separated from the skin before salting. Pic 3295,3296

Right the ears, lips and nose have been turned and split, trim any big pieces of meat off the cape as it is now ready for salting. I recommend using a medium fine salt from a stock feed or produce store. I recommend fine salt as it has better penetration. Pic 4486. 

Spread the cape out as shown. Pic 3082 

Pour salt over the whole cape, spread and rub into every nook and cranny, under the chin into the lips, the face, eyes and ear butts. These are important spots as they can be often over looked when salting. Use plenty of salt as the skin when fresh will suck it in. Leave the cape like this for a minimum of 24hrs. In a shaded area (not sunny)Pic 3083.

After 24hrs shake off all excess salt and repeat the whole procedure again. Then hang it up to dry out of the weather (shed) in a cool place so that any excess fluid can drain freely. If it's raining it is important to roll the cape up and store until fine, after a couple of days drying it will dry out to the consistency of card boar. The skin can now be folded and stored in a damp free area ready to be taken to your taxidermist.


The skull cap can be trimmed back to bare minimum as this is all that is required for mounting trim off the meat from the skull and leave to dry. So if you don't have access to a freezer straight away you are now able to prepare your skin without the concern of loosing it.


Best of luck and remember to keep your knife sharp!