Taxidermy supplies and tips > Deer taxidermy > Deer skinning

Deer skinning

As in other specimens, deer scalps for mounting should be as fresh as possible. If a scalp is to be kept for some little time before mounting it should be well salted.

Roll the scalp up and lay over night to drain. Next day scrape off the first salt and rub in another thorough salting. Keep the skin rolled up to prevent drying hard until mounting or sent to the tanner.

An ideal deer scalp includes the neck skin entire to swell of shoulders and brisket. The incisions to be made for removing a deer scalp are shown in Fig. 32.

Deer skinning knife

A good sharp knife will be required for peeling the skin from the neck. Cut very carefully up under rim of horn bases when removing skin from around them, using care not to haggle edge of skin. Use
same care in skinning out the face, splitting lips and eyelids and skinning out the ears as in small mammal specimen. Remove the ear cartilages entire, after skinning their backs, beginning at the thick top edge and proceeding very carefully, looking out not to tear open the edges.

Scalps may be mounted raw or tanned. The ideal way is to use a tanned, thin pared scalp, mounting it with papier mache upon a modeled mannikin. The raw skin method is perhaps easiest of application, but in all ways is not as satisfactory as the tanned skin method.

For mounting a deer scalp raw, if salted, soak out the salt by squeezing through two or three baths of cold, weak carbolic water. Dry the scalp thoroughly in fine sawdust, rubbing it into the hair and repeatedly shaking until all moisture is removed.

With a small, hardwood paring "beam," shown in Fig. 33, clamped to edge of table, and a sharp paring knife, remove all flesh from inner surface of skin and peel out nose cartilage. Leave nearly an inch of nostril lining around the openings.

Pare all flesh from lips, leaving a half or three-quarters inch of the lining all around them. Split white eyelid lining free to edge
and leave a quarter inch of it all around the openings. When skinning out the ears keep the cartilages for models.

Preserving the deer skin

Poison all inner surfaces of the cleaned skin with solution brushed in well. Fold face, wrong side out, back upon neck. Fold neck skin flesh to flesh over face, roll the scalp up, hair side out, and lay aside in cool place over one night before mounting. The mannikin should be prepared in time so that the skin will not have to lay wet for more than a day before mounting.

For raw-mounting the head, clean skull by boiling in a deep pail until meat comes off easily. A little washing soda in the water will
help clean the bone. With a saw, cut through under side of brain cavity, lengthwise on each side of axis bone. Cut the loosened piece out with a chisel and remove brain.

Set the skull upon neck-board of suitable length (refer to studies) mounted with screws upon a cut out neck base-board of inch thick
wood, as shown in Fig. 34. Fasten skull to top of neck board with nails driven through holes drilled through the bone.
If turned head is desired, make opening in under side of brain cavity wider and nail skull at any desired angle upon top of neck board. Screw upon back of neck base-board a one by three inch piece with free end dropping a few inches below bottom of base-board so that head may be handily set in a vise. This will allow you to
get all around it and the vise will hold it at any angle, making sewing, etc., easier.

Upon skull, for jaw muscles, and upon neck board wrap excelsior, packing it hard as you -go along, to required natural size. A raw
Skin will settle better in drying if neck is slightly smaller than natural size.

To aid in wrapping close and firm to edge of neck base-board, drive a row of small, broad headed nails half into the edge, two or three
inches apart all around and loop the windingcord over these as the wrapping proceeds. Drive these nails down when wrapping is completed. (See Fig. 35 for finished wrapped excelsior head, ready for the skin.)

Drop the dry ear cartilages into warm water. 1n this they will quickly regain their natural shape. Using them as models make a pair of ,duplicates of them of thin sheet lead which may be procured from a plumber or hardware dealer. Split into the base of the cartilage
so it may be spread as nearly flat as possible and lay on the lead, drawing around its outline with a nail point. Cut out the lead ears with a pair of metal-shears. Hammer into natural concave shape with a bit of heavy wood rounded into a ball at one end for the purpose.
(For details of ear making see Fig. 36.).

Now we go on the next phase, Mounting deer