Shoulder mounts are a popular choice for displaying deer because they show off the animal’s size and appearance from the front. The process of creating a shoulder mount involves caping the deer, which involves removing the skin from the animal and attaching it to a mannequin or form.
This article will provide a detailed and comprehensive guide to caping a deer for a shoulder mount, including instructions on preparing the deer, setting up the work area, and caping the deer.
Preparing the Deer
Field Dressing the Deer: The first step in preparing the deer for a shoulder mount is field dressing, which involves removing the internal organs. This is best done as soon as possible after the animal has been harvested to prevent the buildup of bacteria and to keep the meat from spoiling.
To field dress a deer, you will need a sharp knife. Begin by making a cut along the belly from the base of the breastbone to the anus. Then, carefully cut through the diaphragm to expose the internal organs. Use your hands or a spoon to gently remove the organs, being careful not to puncture the bladder or intestine.
Skinning the Deer: The next step in preparing the deer is skinning. This involves removing the skin from the animal’s body. It is important to skin the deer carefully to avoid tearing the skin or leaving holes.
To skin a deer, start by making a cut along the back of the legs from the hocks to the anus. Then, make a cut along the underside of the tail. Next, make a cut along the inside of each leg from the hocks to the anus.
Use your fingers to gently separate the skin from the muscle and connective tissue, being careful not to puncture the skin. When you reach the chest, make a cut along the underside of the neck to the base of the jaw. Continue skinning the deer until the entire body is skinned.
Removing the Head and Antlers (if desired): If you want to create a shoulder mount without the head and antlers, you will need to remove them at this point. To remove the head, make a cut along the back of the neck, being careful not to cut through the spine.
Then, use a saw to carefully cut through the bones of the neck. To remove the antlers, cut through the skin and muscle around the base of the antlers. Use a saw to carefully cut through the antlers at the base.
Setting Up the Work Area: Once the deer is prepared, it is time to set up your work area. Gather all of the necessary tools and materials, including knives, saws, needles, thread, a mannequin or form, and reference photos. You will also need a clean and clear space to work in.
Caping the Deer: Now that the deer is prepared and your work area is set up, you are ready to begin caping the deer. This involves attaching the skin to a mannequin or form and shaping it to create a realistic appearance.
Detailing the Neck, Head, and Ears: The first step in caping the deer is detailing the neck, head, and ears. To do this, you will need to cut away any excess skin and fat from these areas. Use a sharp knife to carefully trim away the excess tissue, being careful not to cut too deeply and damage the skin.
Attaching the Cape to the Mannequin or Form: Once the neck, head, and ears are detailed, it is time to attach the cape to the mannequin or form. Begin by positioning the cape on the mannequin or form so that it is properly aligned and the desired pose is achieved.
Then, use needles and thread to attach the cape to the mannequin or form, starting at the neck and working your way down. Be sure to secure the cape firmly to the mannequin or form to ensure that it stays in place.
Sewing the Cape Closed: Once the cape is attached to the mannequin or form, it is time to sew the cape closed. This involves closing up the open areas of the cape that were created when the deer was skinned. To do this, use a needle and thread to carefully sew the cape closed, starting at the neck and working your way down. Be sure to use small, tight stitches to ensure that the cape is securely closed.
Shaving and Shaping the Mannequin or Form: The final step in caping the deer is shaping the mannequin or form to achieve a realistic appearance. This involves shaving down any excess foam or filling material and shaping the mannequin or form to match the natural contours of the deer’s body. Use reference photos to guide you as you work.
Finishing Touches: Once the cape is attached to the mannequin or form and the desired shape is achieved, you can add any finishing touches. This may include adding eye glass or taxidermy eyes, adding teeth or a tongue, and mounting the antlers (if they were detached). Be sure to take your time and pay attention to detail to create a realistic and professional-looking shoulder mount.
Caping a deer for a shoulder mount is a detailed and time-consuming process, but the end result is a beautiful and impressive display piece. By following the steps outlined in this article and using the proper tools and techniques, you can create a shoulder mount that you can be proud of.
Remember to be patient, take your time, and seek out additional resources and guidance if needed. With practice and dedication, you can become an expert at caping deer for shoulder mounts.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if the deer is fresh enough to be mounted?
It is important to field dress and skin the deer as soon as possible after it is harvested to prevent the buildup of bacteria and to keep the meat from spoiling. If the deer has been properly handled and stored, it should be fresh enough to be mounted.
However, if the deer has been left out in the heat or has been improperly stored, it may not be suitable for mounting. If you are unsure, it is best to consult a professional taxidermist for guidance.
What type of mannequin or form should I use?
There are many different types of mannequins and forms available for use in shoulder mounts. Some taxidermists prefer to use a pre-made mannequin, while others prefer to create their own using foam or other materials.
The choice of mannequin or form will depend on personal preference and the desired level of realism. It is a good idea to consult with a professional taxidermist or do some research online to find the best option for your needs.
Can I use any type of thread to sew the cape closed?
It is important to use a strong and durable thread when sewing the cape closed. Nylon or polyester thread is a good choice because it is strong and resistant to rot. Avoid using cotton or wool thread, as these materials are prone to rotting and may cause the cape to deteriorate over time.
How do I attach the antlers to the mannequin or form?
To attach the antlers to the mannequin or form, you will need to use a strong adhesive such as epoxy or hot glue. Begin by cleaning the base of the antlers and the mannequin or form to ensure a good bond.
Then, apply the adhesive to the base of the antlers and carefully press them into place on the mannequin or form. Hold the antlers in place for a few minutes to allow the adhesive to set, then check the bond to make sure it is secure.
How do I care for the shoulder mount once it is complete?
To keep your shoulder mount looking its best, it is important to handle it carefully and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures or moisture. Dust the mount regularly to keep it clean, and use a soft, dry cloth to remove any dirt or debris that accumulates on the surface.
If the mount is exposed to direct sunlight or other sources of UV light, consider using a UV-blocking spray to prevent fading or deterioration. If you are unsure about how to care for your shoulder mount, it is a good idea to consult a professional taxidermist for guidance.