Care of Trophy Fish
- Take several good reference photos of fish.
- Do not gut fish
- Wrap fish in damp cloth (old towel etc) and slip into a plastic bag
- Deliver fish to taxidermist or freeze fish as soon as possible.
How to remove a trophy head and cape for full shoulder mount
Cut A: Insert knife between ears and cut down back of neck to Cut ‘B’
Cut B: All the way around the body 30cms back behind elbow.
Cut C: Around each front leg just above knee
Cut D: Up back side of front legs then straight out to Cut ‘B’
Pull or skin all shoulder and neck skin forward, up and over animal’s head and cut skull from neck at top neck joint. At this stage, head and skin can be wrapped up, put in a plastic bag and placed in the freezer.
If you wish to skin out the head yourself, then proceed as follows:
Cut a ‘V’ cut from the dorsal neck Cut ‘A’ to the back of each horn/antler and then commence skinning around back of head.
When you encounter the base of the ears, skin up the back of the ears for approx. 5cms, then cut the ear off at the base close to the skull. Trim any excess meat off base of ear cartilage. Do not attempt to remove ear cartilage. When cutting skin away from base of horns, hold hair down with fingers and make precise cuts between skin and horn.
Upon reaching the eyes, insert finger into corner of eye from outside as a guide and lift skin away from corner of eye. Cut close to the bone of the socket leaving plenty of inner eyelid skin. On deer species a pre-orbital gland will be encountered at the front of the eye. This can be skinned out by carefully working knife in from the bottom side of the depression.
The corner of the mouth is the next area to be very careful with. Cutting through the corner of the mouth is a common mistake which can be avoided by placing a finger inside in the corner of the mouth as a guide. Cut through the cheek into mouth 4cm back from the corner of the mouth and palate. Leave as much inner lip as possible by cutting around inside the mouth as close to teeth as is practical.
Skin down towards nose. Cut nose off, leaving two centimeters of nostril cartilage on the skin. This should mean that the skin will now be completely free of the skull.
On heavy skins, it is an advantage to split the lips by cutting from the flesh inside down between the inner and outer lip without cutting right through the lip edge.
The ears should now be skinned out between the cartilage and the skin on the back side of ears. The easiest way to do this in the field is with the handle of your spoon. Insert the handle up the back of the ear and work it towards the tip, keeping the pressure directed down on the cartilage as it is very easy to rip out through the thin skin on the back of the ear. Once you near the tip, the spoon can be drawn down the inside edge of each ear to open it up. Be careful not to split out through the edges of the ears.
Now turn the ears inside out and salt them and the rest of the flesh inside thoroughly with fine grain common salt and allow to drain on a sloping surface in the shade for 24 hours. After this, scrape off wet salt and re-salt with fresh salt. After a day or two the skin can be rolled up, put in a plastic bag and stored, or put in the freezer.