Peel the skin forward up to the ears and jaw exposing the head/neck junction. Cut into the neck approximately three inches down from this junction (Figure 3). Circle the neck, cutting down to the spinal column. After this cut is complete, grasp the antler bases, and twist the head off the neck. This should allow the hide to be rolled up and put in a freezer until transported to the taxidermist. These cuts should allow ample hide for the taxidermist to work with in mounting. Remember, the taxidermist can cut off excess hide, but he can't add what he does not have.
Animals, coyote sized or smaller, should not be skinned unless by a professional. Don't gut the animal. Small mammals, especially carnivores, will spoil quickly because of their thin hide and bacteria. If you can't take the small game animal immediately to a taxidermist, as soon as the carcass cools completely, put it in a plastic bag and freeze it.
Do not gut the bird. Rinse any blood from the feathers with water. Take the bird immediately to your taxidermist or freeze it. Put the bird into a plastic bag for freezing, being careful not to damage the feathers, including the tail. If the bird's tail feathers do not fit in the bag, do not bend them. Let the tail stick out of the bag and tie the bag loosely.
Never ever slit the throat!!!
When field dressing your animal, do not split rib cage. Just to the sternum and reach up inside to remove the heart and lungs
Caping for a Shoulder Mount:
With a sharp knife, slit the hide circling the body behind the shoulder at approximately the midway point of the rib cage behind the front legs. Slit the skin around the legs just above the knees. An additional slit will be needed from the back of the leg and joining the body cut behind the legs (Figure 2A and 2B).
Do not gut your fish.
If you cannot take your fish
immediately to a taxidermist, wrap it in a very wet towel and put it in a plastic bag,
making sure all the fins are flat against the fish's body (to prevent breakage) and
freeze it. A fish frozen in this manner can safely be kept in the freezer for months.
Note: A fish will lose its coloration shortly after being caught. A good color photograph immediately after the catch may enable the taxidermist to duplicate the natural color tones of that particular fish.