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What hunters should know
Spoiled Trophy Strikes Again!
Well it happened again this year! A moose head came into my Taxidermy shop that had a spoiled meat odor and was turning green, a problem that happens way too often to Moose Hunters. Sometimes to the fault of the hunter and many times the fault of the meat cutter hired to process the animal.
Why you might ask? Well there are two key reasons. The first being the moose hunterís own personal knowledge in the care of their trophy! Generally moose hunters are not accustomed to dealing with an animal of this magnitude, most times this is the first time a hunter has ever harvested a moose. From proper meat handling before it is taken to a butcher, to properly removing the hide, cold storage, and transporting it all the way to a taxidermist is a crucial part of the process! If the hunter places himself responsible for the hide removal and meat handling he should ask the right questions, read the right books, or talk to his taxidermist about how to do this properly before he hunts. Talking to the butcher that you intend to bring your animal to, before you ever start your hunt, can save you a lot of grief! Asking the right questions can save you a major disappointment in learning your cape or your meat has spoiled and your trophy is worthless except for the antlers! A moose hunt is many times a once in a lifetime opportunity for the hunter. Ask the right questions before you harvest your trophy.
Now the second reason puts the blame on the meat cutter! Meat cutters or butchers, charge you a healthy fee for processing the meat! Their job is to properly remove your cape and provide proper care and handling of your animal. When you pay for a service you should get just that! When you deliver a whole moose to a butcher, your animal is placed out of your control and into that establishment hands. You need to make sure the butcher knows how to handle all aspects of your trophy and what you expect from them in return for the fees you are paying for this job to be done correctly. This is their business and they should be able to produce proper end results on all aspects of your trophy animal. Doing your homework in the area you are hunting when it comes to your butcher is crucial!
Here are some common problems I have seen with capes, coming from some meet cutting establishments, during my career as a taxidermist in Maine.
∑ The meat cutter did not store the cape in a cooler or they did not have a cooler to store it in.
∑ They put the meat in the cooler and left the cape piled up on the cement floor outside the walk in cooler, where it laid until the customer is called to come pick up their meat and hide.
∑ They stored the hide and or meat in a cooler that was not cold enough to prevent bacteria from growing on the hide.
∑ Hide is removed and the meat is left hanging outside on a loading dock, on the cement floor or just inside the building where the hide was removed.
∑ Antlers cut off with a piece of hide and meat left on the skull and it is spoiled and infested with bugs (maggots). This needs to be cleaned off or refrigerated.
Proper handling of an animal of this magnitude is essential and the hide handling is even more important to prevent spoiling before it gets to your freezer or a taxidermist to be fleshed and preserved properly!
In Maine during months like September and October the meat will start to spoil within the first day, cooling down an animal is difficult but necessary and should be done quickly. As soon as the skin is off the animal the cape should be taken care of and kept refrigerated or frozen and brought to your taxidermist right away. As a hunter you need to make certain your trophy gets the best care by asking the meat cutter, outfitter and taxidermist the proper questions before you hunt
What every Hunter Should Know
As a taxidermist a couple of the things I think all hunters should know. 1 the most important is that they should know that all taxidermy is not done the same. Doing taxidermy since 1973 I have learned a lot. I also have seen a lot of work done by other taxidermist. I have nothing to say about them because they are doing what they think is the best. Sometimes it takes time for a mount to age. If the mount was put together in ways that will allow it to age faster then mounts put together other ways. Bottom line is the way a trophy mount is put together is important. Example would you like to buy a house that was build by professionals or buy a group of people that never build a house before. I hope you understand what I am telling you. As a taxidermist the one thing I want for all hunters is to get a good mount that will last a life time. I know I can not do everyone's mounts so I just want them to find a good taxidermist.
The second thing is every hunter should know how to skin out a trophy. A lot of people say well my outfitter will do it or my meat cutter. Well let me tell you that you should not assume they know how to do it correctly.
I have and still see trophies that are handled poorly and skinned improperly. This all leads to more work for a taxidermist. And sometime can not be repaired. I have heard meat cutters say that a taxidermist can fix it if I make a mistake. Well how would you like to buy a new car that has been in a demolition derby and then repaired and sold. Anything that needs to be repaired will never be like new again. So if you get that trophy of a life time take the time to get a mount that will last and look good for a life time.
I can help you out a little more I have a video that tells you how to skin out your trophy. Please do not think I am writing this so you buy one. Yes I want to sell them but first thing is if no one will show or tell you how to do it then buy one so you know for certain.