How Many Can Fully Cape?
General Topic
Contributors to this thread:
Stringwacker 11-Feb-24
Mule Power 11-Feb-24
Grey Ghost 11-Feb-24
bowhunt 11-Feb-24
Charlie Rehor 11-Feb-24
be still 11-Feb-24
butcherboy 11-Feb-24
skull 11-Feb-24
fastflight 11-Feb-24
cme2hunt 11-Feb-24
Ambush 11-Feb-24
Bou'bound 11-Feb-24
Stringwacker 11-Feb-24
TEmbry 11-Feb-24
Pat Lefemine 11-Feb-24
Grey Ghost 11-Feb-24
Squash 11-Feb-24
Fuzzy 11-Feb-24
Don K 11-Feb-24
Stringwacker 11-Feb-24
t-roy 11-Feb-24
Stekewood 11-Feb-24
Nyati 11-Feb-24
BOWNUT 11-Feb-24
Groundhunter 11-Feb-24
stealthycat 11-Feb-24
W 11-Feb-24
Boreal 11-Feb-24
GFL 11-Feb-24
Stringwacker 11-Feb-24
Bwhnt 11-Feb-24
Ziek 11-Feb-24
Builder07 11-Feb-24
elkmtngear 11-Feb-24
Glunt@work 11-Feb-24
HDE 11-Feb-24
Grey Ghost 11-Feb-24
Jaquomo 11-Feb-24
Bake 11-Feb-24
Keith 11-Feb-24
Jethro 11-Feb-24
HUNT MAN 11-Feb-24
DL 11-Feb-24
Rock 11-Feb-24
BOHNTR 11-Feb-24
W 11-Feb-24
BCPYGuy 12-Feb-24
be still 12-Feb-24
BULELK1 12-Feb-24
8point 12-Feb-24
t-roy 12-Feb-24
drycreek 12-Feb-24
Painless 12-Feb-24
Brotsky 12-Feb-24
LINK 12-Feb-24
bowyer45 12-Feb-24
DonVathome 18-Feb-24
APauls 19-Feb-24
Pop-r 21-Feb-24
Sandbrew 21-Feb-24
From: Stringwacker
11-Feb-24
With most states now requiring boneless meat and the skull removed/treated (boiled in most cases) for all cervids, How many of you feel proficient at completely & fully caping out an animal for interstate transport? I assume by the numbers of hunters that travel to other states to hunt... that it must be very high. Also, for DYI hunts, you often are staying somewhere that caping/processing isn't feasible (ie hotels, vacation rentals, and in a few cases even campgrounds)

I usually try to find a processor that can complete those requirements but I find them very hard to find in some areas. As an example, I'm looking at a hunt in Iowa and have find "one' in the entire state.

Regardless, it doesn't seem to be a subject that is discussed a great deal. I assume that, despite skinning a couple of hundred animals, I'm in the extreme minority that doesn't feel comfortable in the skill of removing the cape from the skull. Your thoughts?

From: Mule Power
11-Feb-24
Caping means carefully removing the hide so it’s suitable for mounting. It’s not that hard but there is a learning curve. Watch those eyelids and tear ducts! But for interstate transport it doesn’t have to be pretty. You can pull it off fast without a care.

From: Grey Ghost
11-Feb-24
I consider it a skill that every hunter should have, but surprisingly many don't.

Matt

From: bowhunt
11-Feb-24
It doesn’t take long at all. Somewhere around 10 minutes.

It’s really simple once you do it the first time.

Maybe check YouTube for a video, then try it out on the next critter you get. You’ll be surprised how simple it is.

11-Feb-24

Charlie Rehor's embedded Photo
Charlie Rehor's embedded Photo
I learned how to do it while in Alaska with my taxidermist in 1993. In 2006 I flew home from Alberta with 2 capes and antlers in checked baggage. It’s really pretty easy. There is also lots of “how to” info on YouTube and Instagram. The last 5 years or so I also bring a boiling pot and power washer with me to my “drive to” hunts. Last year I did 6 skulls for myself and others. Can’t see wasting time looking for someone local on this fun chore.

From: be still
11-Feb-24

be still's embedded Photo
be still's embedded Photo
be still's embedded Photo
be still's embedded Photo
Yea I’m surprised by the number of people that get nervous over processing and skinning. Very simple. 1st step…take a knife and cut the skin away from the meat. 2nd step…take a knife and cut the meat away from the bone.

If you gonna mount it be careful like Mule said above around the face. Get as much eyelid as possible and get all the way to the teeth at the mouth. This one here my son got back in 2022 and he thought it was big enough to mount so I caped it for him. That reminds me I need to hurry up and order a form…the cape is still in the freezer.

Now we did it in the house here. Most of y’all are probably panty whipped and your wives won’t let you so y’all have to do it outside. It’s a little harder probably if you have to use a handsaw but it’s still a lot better than paying someone. Mark next time just get the knife out and get to cutting…it ain’t that bad.

From: butcherboy
11-Feb-24
I’ve been able to do it for many, many years. Lol

From: skull
11-Feb-24
If you can’t process your own animal on the field, you shouldn’t be hunting

From: fastflight
11-Feb-24
First 30 years of hunting I would cape as far up neck as possible and leave ears, eyes, and lips for taxidermist. New rules forced me to learn to do it all. It's definitely not a 10 minute process the first time but it's doable if ya take your time. I bet at least 50% either find a taxidermist to do it or ignore the rules and bring back the brains. I might be wrong though.

From: cme2hunt
11-Feb-24
I can and it’s a great skill to have. Best thing to do is go to your taxidermist and have them show you. They will be more than happy to walk you through the correct way instead of fixing all your screwups and shortcomings.

From: Ambush
11-Feb-24
Caping for a mount is different than just getting the skin off for transport regulations or a euro mount.

On long back pack hunts you have to prep the face well or the hair will slip. Learning to do the inside of eyes and how to split the lips is important. The nose can be a bugger. Fleshing is another thing hunters seldom bother to do. Taxidermists could feed several people with what’s left on the hide.

But if your freezer or taxidermist is only hours away, then caping is pretty simple.

From: Bou'bound
11-Feb-24
Skull has spoken!

From: Stringwacker
11-Feb-24
"First 30 years of hunting I would cape as far up neck as possible and leave ears, eyes, and lips for taxidermist. New rules forced me to learn to do it all. It's definitely not a 10 minute process the first time but it's doable if ya take your time. I bet at least 50% either find a taxidermist to do it or ignore the rules and bring back the brains. I might be wrong though."

This probably best represents my experience and thoughts. I know a ton of bowhunters (I was president of a state org) and I truly only know one fellow that claims he knows how to do it. It just happens I join him on a lot of wilderness hunts:)

My local taxidermist recently cringed when I brought him a full cape a couple of years ago; explaining that he has had to throw almost half away (that were brought to him) as they were almost always boogered up. Add such comments to the fact I'm 'that' guy who can hardly turn a screw driver with my hands skillset.... and it seems a daunting task. I know that's on me...we are just all different folks. I learned a long time ago that if I want a job done right...pay someone else to do it:)

As I race toward my 70's its not likely I will take on a new skillset task; rather I will continue to rely on other methods until I'm absolutely forced with no other alternative than to try it myself. I suppose I can always buy a new cape.

From: TEmbry
11-Feb-24
I find it relatively easy to remove the cape, fleshing and turning if in the backcountry for an extended time is another story. I CAN do it, but took several screw ups and even now I prefer not to cause I know the quality is shit lol. Luckily for me I do euros for 90+% of my kills so capes are a non issue.

From: Pat Lefemine
11-Feb-24
I’ve known how to do that for 40 years. I will do my friends’ capes in camp to help out the outfitter. Best advice is just practice with does and small bucks. Ears, eyes, antler bases and gums are the areas that guys get stuck on. Deer are pretty easy. An Alaskan bull moose is another thing. Both Charlie and I had to cape one in 1991. We got it done but it sucked.

Good luck

From: Grey Ghost
11-Feb-24
I agree with Ambush. There's a big difference between a basic cape job, and actually prepping the cape for tanning and mounting. Turning the eyes, lips, ears, and properly fleshing a cape requires a bit of a learning curve, but it's not bad.

When I was outfitting, we'd kill 30-40 animals a season. Since I'm very picky about my own capes, I'd always ask if the hunter wanted to do his own caping. I recall only one bow hunter who wanted to do it himself. It was clear the vast majority of our hunters had never done it. That was kinda surprising to me.

From: Squash
11-Feb-24
I have trapped for many years and handle and put all of my pelts that I send to Fur Harvesters Auction house in North Bay, Ontario to be sold on the global fur market. So for me basic caping is relatively easy. My question is, what state is enforcing the laws about transporting full carcass deer ? These laws are tough to enforce if you are traveling by motor vehicle. I know people who bring whole deer back to NY each year from OH, WV , etc.. Unless they are in a accident or stopped for a traffic violation the odds are in their favor. Not condoning it, just stating facts.

From: Fuzzy
11-Feb-24
I can when my hands allow it

From: Don K
11-Feb-24
Caping for transport isnt that hard. Last Elk I wanted to euro mount i took it to the local car wash and was able to remove all the brain matter and clean skull for transport before heading home.

And in some states as long as your taking the animal to a licensed taxidermist transport rules are different

From: Stringwacker
11-Feb-24
Squash, when in Kansas I use a specific processor who does everything. He stated that most folks just throw the head in a cooler and take their chances on the trip home. I've often thought about whether that could be a Lacy Act violation?

Regardless, I fellow from my home state was bringing a potential P&Y elk head back from Colorado when they stopped at a restaurant to eat. Just happened that there were two Arkansas conservation officers there. They took his elk, never gave it back, and charged the hunter $5,000. They didn't know squat about CWD transport laws as it was early in the process and most states didn't have restrictions.

I often thought about how do folks that do that take their heads to get mounted? In our state their are no tags required so it would be easily done here. Maybe other states don't require a tag to go with the hide?

Regardless, I would never skirt the laws and regulations....

From: t-roy
11-Feb-24
Agree with Ambush. For whiteys at home, I don’t take nearly as much time trimming the flesh off the cape vs when on an out-of-state or country hunt. I’m surprised at how many guys don’t know how to cape an animal. It’s not rocket surgery. I think guys are somewhat intimidated by it. Turning ears, the nose and splitting the lips are much more tedious, but still doable. I don’t do those unless I have to, because I’m not very good at it. Obviously, it’s best not to put nicks in the hide, especially around the eyes and pre orbital gland, but a good taxidermist can fix a lot of minor issues, but not slipping.

From: Stekewood
11-Feb-24
I can do it and prefer to. Even some of the most experienced guides do some pretty terrible hack jobs.

From: Nyati
11-Feb-24
With CWD and state laws every hunter should be able to but unfortunately I don’t think the percentage is that high

From: BOWNUT
11-Feb-24
I don't want to or like to but I do know how and have done it. I would rather leave it to someone with more experience for a good mount. It's something you should know how to do. If you hunt bears in warm weather it's a must.

From: Groundhunter
11-Feb-24
I learned by practicing on alot of marginal bucks, and plenty of does. It takes right caper knife, and time. Same thing on boneing out a northern. Lots of practice till you get it right.

From: stealthycat
11-Feb-24
I do all of mine

From: W
11-Feb-24
I had a taxi lined up in Arizona to do a rush cape and boil for me, if needed. It wasn’t needed. I’ve had a muley mounted in Nevada, a Bighorn in Idaho, and an elk in Wyoming. All turned out great. My friend did have to do a bit of searching to find us a good rate to ship our Wyoming elk. I’ve left muley and antelope with a taxi in Casper for skull mounts and he shipped them to me later.

From: Boreal
11-Feb-24
I can skin out a deer for butchering no problem. I can skin a bears head fairly easily. I have trouble around the pedicels on antlered animals. I guess I'll have to quit hunting.

From: GFL
11-Feb-24
Unfortunately I’m the one that’s been doing it the past 30 years plus.

From: Stringwacker
11-Feb-24
Warren, I was waiting for someone to bring up the 'leave it at the state you hunted and have a taxidermist do it". Glad you posted it as I kept thinking about a story and now I have a good opening for it. It's been a while since we have hunted together....hopefully again soon!

I've had a couple of bears and a pronghorn mounted by out of state taxidermist and shipped to me. The bears worked out fine, but the pronghorn was a different issue. I took a nice P&Y pronghorn with Phil Phillips back in 1990. I took it to a Colorado taxidermist who also could have it measured after the 60 day drying period. I thought Colorado folks could likely do a better job of it than someone back home who had never mounted one. Man, I was happy about the pronghorn! It was my first PY animal.

Anyway, everything went great with the taxidermist. He crated it and sent it my way. UPS called me and said could I come pick it up as opposed to going on a home delivery truck? Of course I said yes and headed on down to the terminal.

When I got there, I inquired about picking it up and they said just give them a minute. After a 30 minute delay, the rep came back and said that they couldn't locate it even though the ticket said the crate had been delivered to the terminal. Of course, I said you guys just called an hour ago...you mean you've lost it? Long story made very short, they ask me to give them some time and they would find it, call me, and I could come down and get it. They never could find it and after a few months paid me a compensatory amount for the trip and that was that. I had my PY listing as it had been done in Colorado before shipment but the mount was gone.

Fast forward to 1997...UPS called me and said they had found a big box and was I expecting it? I said yes but in 1990. They loaded it on the truck and brought it to my house....7 years later. It has a special place in my trophy room.

Forgive me if I tend to be a little leery in leaving mounts behind for mounting.

From: Bwhnt
11-Feb-24
T-roy....rocket surgery....that made me laugh

From: Ziek
11-Feb-24
I usually let my taxidermist do them if possible. But I've done plenty for shoulder mounts, but again leave the ears, lips, and nose for him. It's not a problem if you can keep it cold. I've also done two mountain goats, a black bear and a muskox for life size mounts through just a dorsal cut. I had to show my guide how to do the muskox.

From: Builder07
11-Feb-24
Long as you can do the splits keep hide form splitting. Flesh as you can. Then i take it on the hide thinner hook. Tan using your fav method and oil it. Bears can be bugger.

From: elkmtngear
11-Feb-24
It's a little time consuming, but, I can do it. I've done quite a few elk over the years, not so many deer.

11-Feb-24
I usually try to tube skin an animal similar to how trappers skin a mink or fur-bearing animals. Then small y cuts at the antlers. The taxidermist appreciates not having to sew hundreds of stitches. And the hair never lays the same along cut and stitched lines.

Then I split the ears and lips. They must be fleshed out

From: Glunt@work
11-Feb-24
After the first one its no big deal. Try to do when fresh and not too cold, go from the mouth backwards as far as you can. Be careful around the eyes and tear ducts. When in doubt, leave some extra. Easy to remove later, hard to put back on.

From: HDE
11-Feb-24
"I consider it a skill that every hunter should have, but surprisingly many don't."

Unless you don't give a rip about a shoulder mount.

From: Grey Ghost
11-Feb-24
Great point, HDE!!

From: Jaquomo
11-Feb-24
Yes - and even if I don't want to mount it (not anymore..), taxidermists buy good capes from mature animals.

From: Bake
11-Feb-24
I trapped some as a kid. I’m very comfortable caping an animal for a shoulder mount. I’ve never done a sheep or goat, so I don’t know how to treat the horns there, but antlered and non antlered game I’m very comfortable doing it

Not to say I’m great at it. I’ve caped multiple animals on a tailgate at a campground. I take extra knives that are made for the purpose. Last year I did it and I was exhausted and rushing and I messed up around an eye. But should be repairable. And if it’s noticeable, I’ll have a memory of my mistake ;)

From: Keith
11-Feb-24
Charlie: Good picture. Many don't cut the hide long enough on top for a pedestal or wall/pedestal mount. Or more often, don't leave enough at the brisket and legs for the deer manikins that are popular today.

be still: I would reconsider skinning a deer inside your living quarters. Deer ticks are no laughing matter. Knock on wood, as a taxidermist myself whose has skinned probably over a thousand head during my career, I have been lucky not getting lymes yet, but I still don't take chances.

From: Jethro
11-Feb-24
I’ll admit I could not skin the head good enough for a mount. Done a couple for euros. I don’t care for shoulder mounts, so just never took the time to learn the process.

From: HUNT MAN
11-Feb-24
Yep lips and eyes and ears turned also!!

From: DL
11-Feb-24
I once skinned a bull elk with single edged razor blades. Please don’t salt an unfleshed cape and then take it to your taxidermist.

From: Rock
11-Feb-24
I do most of mine before taking to the taxidermist for the past 30-40 years. A few years ago I dropped off a Moose that was only skinned to the base of the skull my taxidermist was bummed. He even said you didn't cape it, told him I had not had time to.

From: BOHNTR
11-Feb-24
Yup

From: W
11-Feb-24
I had a taxi lined up in Arizona to do a rush cape and boil for me, if needed. It wasn’t needed. I’ve had a muley mounted in Nevada, a Bighorn in Idaho, and an elk in Wyoming. All turned out great. My friend did have to do a bit of searching to find us a good rate to ship our Wyoming elk. I’ve left muley and antelope with a taxi in Casper for skull mounts and he shipped them to me later.

From: BCPYGuy
12-Feb-24
For sure, can’t leave home without being able to. Started on muskrats as a young boy. It is a skill which most can acquire but someone, like taxidermists and guides, make it look easy. Even though I’ve done some guiding/caping I know my limitations are in how fast I work. As others have said it’s easier to subtract than add and certainly the adding is more expensive.

From: be still
12-Feb-24
Keith I’ve never had many problems with ticks here in Texas. Missouri and Kansas has been a different story though.

From: BULELK1
12-Feb-24
I've been doing it for quite a few years now.

Good luck, Robb

From: 8point
12-Feb-24
Beats the heck out of additional weight packing a skull miles back to base.

From: t-roy
12-Feb-24
^^Not to mention being able to fit just the cape in freezer.

From: drycreek
12-Feb-24
I never felt the need. All I ever did was skin the animal, quarter it up for the ice chest, then cut the head off. But then, I never camped out in the wilderness somewhere and haven’t been out of state since the CWD rules have been in effect. I’m out of room for mounts anyway, even euros. If I kill something much bigger than what I have it will be a whitetail and I’ll have to take something down to put the new one up.

From: Painless
12-Feb-24
Been doing it since my pre-teens.

From: Brotsky
12-Feb-24
Yup, cape and skull cap and away you go!

From: LINK
12-Feb-24
Started caping mine in high school then I guided for 16 years. I have friends that have killed and skinned many but never caped a head.

From: bowyer45
12-Feb-24
A sharp knife and stone, and a screw driver.

From: DonVathome
18-Feb-24
It's easy. Take your time. Around horns is tough and frustrating. Done many for mount reasons. I am sure you will do fine. If your mounting it just take your time and pay attention to where you are. Eyes snd nose sneak up on me:)

From: APauls
19-Feb-24
Havalons have made getting under antler burrs, to bottom of tear ducts etc a breeze

From: Pop-r
21-Feb-24
Hang around a taxidermy shop for a bit and you'll figure it out. A Havalon, a good blunt screwdriver, a hammer and a little time. Granted a bull moose is a bit more of a project.

From: Sandbrew
21-Feb-24
Practice, practice, practice...hopefully not on the trophy of a lifetime. I spent several days with my taxidermist before my sheep hunt, watching and helping him prep hides before I did my own. On my stone sheep hunt the outfitter and guide were very impressed as I wanted to take my skull and life-sized cape home with me vs shipping them. I prepped and fleshed the entire cape in camp and boiled the head and horns to remove all meat. I was tight on time so I salted the cape in my rental car and then wrapped and packed it and the skull and some meat in a large tub for the flight. Going thru customs they asked if I had anything to declare and I said yes a sheep skull, hide and some meat. I got nervous when they say you need to got all the way to the special end lane and talk to Bob. Bob greeted me with a "What did you get? Let em see some pictures" all good after that. Sandbrew

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