Trophy deer could #8216;slip#8217; the mount

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2006

When the New Year rings in, deer hunters hear the dinging as the start of the final month of deer season.

So far, the 2005 deer season has been a good one, with a large number of trophy bucks harvested. However, the thrilling expectation of seeing that trophy buck mounted and displayed has too often turned to bitter disappointment, said Russ Harris, taxidermist.

“A lot of bucks have been harvested this season but some hunters are having problems getting them to the taxidermist in a way that they can be properly mounted,” he said. “I know that, when a hunter harvests a deer, they want to ride it around and show it off. But sometimes they ride it too long, and the hair will start coming off.”

Harris said a deer can’t “ride” in 70 degree weather for any length of time and make it to the taxidermist “in good condition.”

“If a deer is harvested and the temperature is around 30 and gets up only to around 50, you can wait until the next day to get it to the taxidermist,” he said. “If you can’t get it to a taxidermist for two or three days, the best thing to do is to get it in a cooler where it will be all right for that length of time. And, you don’t want to put a cape in a plastic bag. That will cause the hair to come off.”

The cape is very important to a taxidermist and to a hunter who has bagged that trophy deer.

“Some hunters don’t know how to cape a deer,” Harris said. “To get a full shoulder mount, you have to go beyond the front legs and cape out from the legs. If you don’t, the cape will be too short to mount.”

The mount begins with the harvest of the deer and it’s up to a hunter to take care of the deer.

A hunter, who knows how to cape a deer and how to “haul” one, won’t be disappointed with the mount.

“If the hair is coming out or the cape is too short, there’s not a lot a taxidermist can do,” Harris said. “Sometimes, I’ll have a cape on hand – one that somebody didn’t want – and I’ll use it and just put the antlers on that cape. Of course, the hunter doesn’t have his or her mount. But that ‘s about all you can do if the cape is slipping or too short.”

Dragging a deer across a field or through the woods will also cause the hair to come out.

“I’ve seen hunters come in with a deer that they have drug with a four-wheeler and they will have ruined any chance of a good mount,” Harris said.

A trophy deer can be preserved for a long time by putting it in the freezer.

“It’s the same for a bobcat or a fox,” Harris said. “If you are going to keep a harvest in the freezer, put it in a plastic bag so it will keep and won’t get freezer burned.

“I’ve had people bring me deer way on over in the summer that they’ve had in the freezer for months. Then, when the peas and butterbeans got ready, they had to get the deer out of the freezer, so they could put their vegetables in. If they had put the deer in a bag and had taken good care caping and hauling it, then they had a good mount.”

If deer season continues to be a good one, more “trophies” could make their way to the taxidermist.

“So far we’ve had good weather for deer hunting and, if we continue to have cool days and nights, the harvest should continue to be good,” Harris said. “People are managing the deer better and giving the small bucks time to get big. So, when that trophy deer is harvested, it would be bad to lose it because a hunter didn’t take care of it.”

For the best mounts, Harris said cape the deer properly and either get it to the taxidermist as quickly as possible, in the cooler to keep for a couple of days or in the freezer until it has to come out to make room for the butterbeans.