Back country cape care

huntlife

New member
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Messages
118
Location
chasing the herd
Ok, there was a long discussion about meat care (and tons of great info!!!!!!), but no mention of caring for the cape. I know most of it will be the same, but do you guys usually split and turn the lips, eyes, nose, and ears? Any other special considerations? With me being a taxidermist, I have a lot of interest in this. I know how we do it here, but we can usually have them skinned and in the freezer in a few hours here. Its a lot different when your a day and a half from the trail head. I know how I would do it, but Id love to hear how you guys take care of the capes and see if Im right.
 

Festus

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2012
Messages
3,255
Location
Virginia
We have always just caped the head and salted with non-iodized salt. We leave the ears, lips, nose, and feet (bear) whole and salt heavily and hang in tree or horse trailer to air dry/drip. Shake off salt and re-apply next day. Repeat once or twice. After a day or two, any 'meat' left on hide usually dries up and peels off easily. Roll up in bag in cooler for the ride home. Maybe not the best, but we haven't had any problems so far (or just have a good taxidermist?). I would love to hear what others do.
 

the nikster

Well-known member
Joined
May 4, 2005
Messages
1,481
Location
Idaho
From what I have seen, Most just pull the head off and put it in a garbage sack, wait a week or so for all the friends to see it and then bring it in to the taxidermist/magician and expect miracles.
I cape it, split the lips, eyes and nose, invert the ears and remove the cartilage. I then salt it, roll it up hair side out and tip it on end. A day later I unroll and discard the salt, re-salt, re-roll and re-tip on other end. Next day I roll it out, remove and discard the salt, re-salt and roll for the trip home. I use a lot of salt and my taxidermist NEVER complains.
 

putm2sleep

New member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
Messages
2,558
Location
Colorado
Never done this, asked about it as I plan to someday. Still have and review the thread and PM from time to time, its from a wonderful HTer. (from 2011)

Almost pulled the cape off the mountain this year, but left it. The euro turned out nice though.

Next year.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 20, 2012
Messages
343
This is probably the area I have the least practice doing would like to see a video on how some of you guys cape in the field. I've done it and found the base of the antlers is the most challenging.
 

JLS

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
16,178
Location
Almost Arkansas…..
I've done it and found the base of the antlers is the most challenging.

A wide flat head screwdriver works really well for the bases of the antlers. In lieu of that, I've used the knife blade the same way. Have the edge of the knife pointing away from the antler base, and twist the blade (edge down). This will peel the hide away without having to cut anything.
 

RobG

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2010
Messages
5,474
Location
Bozeman, MT
From what I have seen, Most just pull the head off and put it in a garbage sack, wait a week or so for all the friends to see it and then bring it in to the taxidermist/magician and expect miracles.

lol....
Andres In Belgrade told me people usually screw up the base of the antlers, you have to make sure you get all the hair. He uses a scalpel, but the screwdriver trick sounds interesting. I kept the cape on the skull of an elk and packed it out on a frame pack... 92 pounds. If I knew it was going to be that heavy I might have at least scraped more meat off the hide!
 

huntlife

New member
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Messages
118
Location
chasing the herd
From what I have seen, Most just pull the head off and put it in a garbage sack, wait a week or so for all the friends to see it and then bring it in to the taxidermist/magician and expect miracles.
I cape it, split the lips, eyes and nose, invert the ears and remove the cartilage. I then salt it, roll it up hair side out and tip it on end. A day later I unroll and discard the salt, re-salt, re-roll and re-tip on other end. Next day I roll it out, remove and discard the salt, re-salt and roll for the trip home. I use a lot of salt and my taxidermist NEVER complains.

This is what I had thought about doing. Do you pack in all the salt on a wilderness hunt? Thats what I have a issue with. If Im close a road, I have no worries. Its the waiting three or more days to get to a bag of salt that worries me.

From a taxidermist point of view, you can NEVER use to much salt.
 

huntlife

New member
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Messages
118
Location
chasing the herd
lol....
Andres In Belgrade told me people usually screw up the base of the antlers, you have to make sure you get all the hair. He uses a scalpel, but the screwdriver trick sounds interesting. I kept the cape on the skull of an elk and packed it out on a frame pack... 92 pounds. If I knew it was going to be that heavy I might have at least scraped more meat off the hide!

Ive had tons of capes come in my shop that had life 15 1/2 inch cuts in the cape from under the burr. Its a pain to work with. Its fixable, but it sucks!

For the screwdriver trick, make a cut from the point of the skull to the base of the horn. Start at the point of the skull and not at the horn. Trust me, its a lot easier. Do this cut on both sides. Then do your cut down the back of the neck. Skin as much as you can like you normally would. When you get to the horns, put the screwdriver into the cut that you made. Try to get it all the way up under the antler burr. Hold it on around a 45 degree angle and tap the back of the screwdriver with a hammer (or anything that is a little bit heavy, like a rock or something). The skin will come away from the burr pretty easy. Dont hit the screwdriver very hard. Work your way around the burr. Do both antlers. Then finish skinning as normal. After you do it once, youll love it. It only takes like 5 minutes to do a deer.
 

the nikster

Well-known member
Joined
May 4, 2005
Messages
1,481
Location
Idaho
This is what I had thought about doing. Do you pack in all the salt on a wilderness hunt?

I do,
I consider it training for the pack out. If you can pack all your gear and a deer out, you should be able to pack all your gear and 20/40 lbs of salt in.
I think most folks just call their hunt short and get the animal out as quick as possible, I prefer to rest, relax and contemplate what a great hunter I am!
 

Mthuntinfool

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2014
Messages
579
Location
Noxon Mt
[/QUOTE].

From a taxidermist point of view, you can NEVER use to much salt.[/QUOTE]

Very true, my dad was a taxidermist for 30 years, and its amazing what guys would bring in and expect to have mounted. For deer capes you could get away with 5-10 lbs of salt, which isn't terrible to pack, especially if you get the cheap 1lb containers. always turn out the ears as well to avoid hair slippage, and keep in the shade. a little common sense will get you a long ways :D
 

RobG

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2010
Messages
5,474
Location
Bozeman, MT
From a taxidermist point of view, you can NEVER use to much salt.

Very true, my dad was a taxidermist for 30 years, and its amazing what guys would bring in and expect to have mounted. For deer capes you could get away with 5-10 lbs of salt, which isn't terrible to pack, especially if you get the cheap 1lb containers. always turn out the ears as well to avoid hair slippage, and keep in the shade. a little common sense will get you a long ways :D

I'm clueless on what the problems are, but if you don't roll them up in a garbage bag and leave them in the sun, is salt really needed if it is just going to be a day or two? Presumably you will also have meat hanging around and if you take similar precautions nothing should sour. I assume that is when the hair would start to slip.
 

huntlife

New member
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Messages
118
Location
chasing the herd
It depends on the heat. If its later in the year, its not as big of a deal. If the temp gets over 40 degrees, bacteria starts to form. It gets a lot worse over 50 degrees. I mostly bowhunt, and its pretty hot sometimes. Out bow season starts the middle ot september. Ive been hunting in November and it still be 90 degrees here. I know it tends to be cooler there. If Im in a place that would take three or four days before I can get to a cooler or freezer, especially if its kinda warm, I would be very worried. Thats just me. I do worry a lot. I know that sometime it does not take much for hair to start slipping. Bears are the worst. When the fat starts breaking down, it speeds up bacteria a lot! They are very bad about the epidermis slipping. The salt does two things. It helps remove unwanted fluid from the skin. It also provides a poor environment for bacteria to grow. It can still grow but not very good. When I asked the original question, I was wondering if everybody packed slat, or if there was another way that I havent heard of, since I live in Arkansas and dont have to worry about being in the woods for days with no access to a cooler or freezer. I have a lot to learn about back country hunting, and Im looking forward to it. I just didnt know if there was a better way than packing 40 pounds of salt into a wilderness area. If thats what I need to do, Im all for it.
 

Bambistew

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2002
Messages
6,853
Location
Chugiak, AK
Depending on temps, I don't do anything more than remove the cape/hide from the head and keep it cool. Treat it just as you would meat... Clean, dry and cool Usually hang it to dry out a bit as well. Keep the flies off it! They love the ears and nose.

If its warm, or will take a few days to get out. I will split everything and salt it. IMO if you don't split and properly flesh you're asking for slippage, especially in the areas with thin skin around the eyes and eyelids. For a deer/elk, capes are easy to find if you botch one, but even so, I try to take care of them. They're worth a few bucks to the right guy even if I don't use it myself.

I use salt most of the time, but usually on backpack or fly-out trips I take TTC, (Taxidermy Trophy Care). It takes about 1/5 as much as salt and is way lighter.
http://bringmin.com/?page_id=580

I don't worry about getting it completely dry in the field, just get the pH lowered to reduce bacteria growth. A little salt is better than none, pay special attention to the areas that are prone to slip, eyes, nose, edges, etc.

As mentioned, fat is bad news for capes, as are big chunks of meat. Flesh it off before you salt it, otherwise you end up with patches of hide that won't dry as quickly, or the pH will not be lowered enough to reduce bacteria growth under those patches. The hair slips when the follicles are "compromised." The closer you can get the salt to the follicle the better chance you have at preserving the cape.

I rarely pack the head with the cape on it. Doesn't take long to get it off, and you can cut about 30-40% of the weight off a head even if you keep the full skull, by removing all the extra meat from the cape and skull.
 

Bambistew

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2002
Messages
6,853
Location
Chugiak, AK
I'm clueless on what the problems are, but if you don't roll them up in a garbage bag and leave them in the sun, is salt really needed if it is just going to be a day or two? Presumably you will also have meat hanging around and if you take similar precautions nothing should sour. I assume that is when the hair would start to slip.

In most instances, not a problem as long as you keep it dry and keep air circulation around it. Pay special attention to areas on the cape that are wet from either water or blood. I've kept capes in camp unsplit/salted for 4-5 days, but it was in the 40's.
 

Festus

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2012
Messages
3,255
Location
Virginia
When hunting the backcountry, we take 2 or 3 cans of salt in to basecamp - but we usually have horses. Don't see the need to pack 20 lbs worth. Typically after a kill we get the meat/cape back to the trailhead within a day or two (hopefully) and have plenty of salt and coolers waiting in trailer. The lucky hunter can then bring more salt back in on return trip for the next cape.
No time for rest and relaxation yet, but plenty of time to contemplate with the Nikster. :cool:
 

live free or die

Active member
Joined
Aug 1, 2012
Messages
127
Location
New Hampshire
How do you guys turn the ears? I've never tried without my ear tool. Is it really necessary ? Also turning lips must be tricky with typically larger knives.
 

huntlife

New member
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Messages
118
Location
chasing the herd
How do you guys turn the ears? I've never tried without my ear tool. Is it really necessary ? Also turning lips must be tricky with typically larger knives.

This video will show you how to turn them without the turning tool. If you skin the ear up past the ear butt, past where the meat is, youll get to the part thats all cartilage. Cut through the membrane on the cartilage, but not through the cartilage! Stick your thomb in and try to get it between the ear skin and that dang membrane. Just keep pushing your thumb in. Be careful at the tip of the ear. When you get that far, invert the ear and finish turning to the edge. The lips and eyes are kind of a pain with a bigger knife. Just be careful.

P.s. when you turn a few ears like this, youll throw your turning tool away!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sujhlXu1d48
 
Top