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Mar 25th, 2012
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Transporting a deer cape/head for mounting #7640051 10/23/19 06:20 PM
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Tried researching online and was having trouble finding a clear answer. So i've been hunting for a few years now but have never been blessed with a buck that i would classify as a wall hanger. I got on a new lease this year and have a few solid deer that seem to be hanging around quite a bit. God willing i get a shot at one of these guys i would like to be ready. I'm very comfortable with skinning and caping a deer up to the neck, but not the full head. Researching online, it seems like the consensus it to either take the whole deer to the taxidermist and let them cape it for you, or buy one of those fancy trophy coolers with the holes in the top. Ive heard of people use Styrofoam coolers as well but im not sold on that idea. The processor i plan to use is a good two hours from my lease and i really dont want to waste half a day to drive back and fourth from the lease. I know to keep your cape as dry and cool as possible, but would it be a big deal to just place the cape and head in a plastic bag, put in cooler, and just put ice around the bag for a few days? How long would this method be good for? At max i would have to use this method for 2 days until the weekend is over and i come home and have access to a freezer.

Last edited by Bobby Hill; 10/23/19 06:22 PM.
Re: Transporting a deer cape/head for mounting [Re: Bobby Hill] #7640057 10/23/19 06:27 PM
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Your method will work, but don't use a plastic bag. Use something that will breathe. I've used corn sacks, burlap sacks and old pillow cases before. Being in ice for two days is not ideal, and his cape's going to get wet, but he will be fine. Cold is the key. The taxi will just have to double salt him before sending to the tannery due to the wet cape.

Re: Transporting a deer cape/head for mounting [Re: Bobby Hill] #7640060 10/23/19 06:32 PM
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Another item I was told was to fold the hair side in and roll the skin against it self. Keep out of the water with ice around it. I don't put the hide in a plastic bag just lay the bag around the top and sides.

Re: Transporting a deer cape/head for mounting [Re: Bobby Hill] #7640071 10/23/19 06:47 PM
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Mine gets frozen at the processor and they put it in a trash bag. I will put in a cooler and fill completely with ice around the bag and head until I get home. If I can't go directly to the Taxi then I will either leave in the cooler depending on what outside temps are or put in the garage fridge with it on the lowest cold setting possible. This has worked well for me the last several years.

Re: Transporting a deer cape/head for mounting [Re: Bobby Hill] #7640114 10/23/19 07:30 PM
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Use dry ice and cover it with newspaper or thin cardboard, then put the cape on top in the cooler.

Re: Transporting a deer cape/head for mounting [Re: Dalee7892] #7640164 10/23/19 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Dalee7892
Another item I was told was to fold the hair side in and roll the skin against it self. Keep out of the water with ice around it. I don't put the hide in a plastic bag just lay the bag around the top and sides.


and just freeze a bunch of gatorade bottles or 2 liter bottles and use that to keep a cooler or whatever you transport the cape in, cold...keeps the cape from getting as wet or possibly submerged in water.


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Re: Transporting a deer cape/head for mounting [Re: Bobby Hill] #7640173 10/23/19 08:42 PM
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Re: Transporting a deer cape/head for mounting [Re: Bobby Hill] #7640452 10/24/19 01:39 AM
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If your hunting out west, many states won't let you transport brain and spinal material across state lines. Either find a taxi in that state, completely cape the head and saw the skull cap or cape out head, boil skull and wash out brains.


No matter how high a duck flies a hammer still breaks a window.
Re: Transporting a deer cape/head for mounting [Re: Bobby Hill] #7640485 10/24/19 02:08 AM
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I have used a softsided cooler for the last 10 yrs to transport deer capes/antlers in. It is an older style that is not the square or rectangle but a taller style with a wider bottom. It tapers up to a top that has one long zipper. I usually freeze a few 32 oz bottles and 1/2 gallon or gallon jugs of water to use to cool them in the bag for transport. Works great for whitetails but I have to cut the cape at the ribs for a mule deer for a better fit. Helps is the cape is cooled down already when putting it in the cooler. I also have one of the older Trophy Coolers that I use also. I have brought a mule deer home in the softsided cooler that was an 8 hour trip.
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Re: Transporting a deer cape/head for mounting [Re: Bobby Hill] #7641898 10/25/19 04:07 PM
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Go visit some taxidermist to find out who you want to use now. Look for a clean organized shop, and ask where they tan their hides. If they do their own tanning, walk away. Ask where they get their forms and their eyes. If they make anything themselves, walk away. Tanning is supper important. You wont know it for ten years, but then one day you will realize why it's so important if it's not done by a commercial tanning company!!! Quality forms and eyes are required to make it look lifelike. When you visit the taxidermist, do not make friends. Most get work because they are great guys, fun to hang out with, and just tell stories to. Most are just OK at what they do, some are horrible,very few are really good.

Once you find who you are going to use, ask them how to skin out a head. It's a pretty simple process that takes anywhere from an hour, to several hours if you are super picky like I am. I split the lips, turn the ears and remove every bit of meat from a cape. Then I salt the cape. Salt is better then keeping it cool. Freezing is the best, but not practical a lot of the time. Ounce salted, I carry my cape in a pillow case.

The best tool for caping a head is a medical scalpel. You can buy them on Amazon, along with extra blades. I use a plastic toothbrush holder to keep my scalpel and extra blades in. There is probably better ways to do this, but over the decades, this has worked great for me. For gutting and cleaning, I use a sheetrock razor knife. This is really good for hogs too, but the tip is too pointed and sharp for caping a head.

If you really want to get good at it, volunteer to cape some heads with your taxidermist. That's how I learned. We worked side by side and he kept an eye on me to make sure I didn't screw up. The few times that I got confused, or wasn't sure of the best thing to do, he quickly showed me how. I spent a Saturday morning doing three capes, which lead me to being the most obnoxious guy in camp on both my Africa trips and New Zealand. They all tried to BS me on how they "always" do it, but then I pulled the outfitter into the skinning room and explained to him how I wanted it done, and in every case, I was told that's how he wanted it done too, and he would make sure that his skinners did it that way from now on. Funny how knowing the difference between sloppy work and getting it done right got such great results.

Learn how to skin a cape now and it will be something that you will use the rest of your life.

Re: Transporting a deer cape/head for mounting [Re: Bobby Hill] #7641966 10/25/19 05:02 PM
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Learn to cape a skull. It’s not hard, just take your time. Look at YouTube

Then you don’t have to worry about when it goes to the taxi. Fold up cape and it’s golden on ice or freezer.


Mean time soft sided cooler


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