Trophy Deer Care

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2009

Last revision: Dec. 15, 2010

to hang around my studio during deer season. You only need to bring one thing—your nose. A hosed-out deer will announce its presence from several feet away.

It has been argued that professional packing houses wash beef carcasses, so why should hunters not wash deer? I once visited such an establishment. First, immediately after being dispatched, the animal is hung on a rail. The body is immediately skinned, hosed off, and while still hanging from the rail, is promptly moved into cold storage. This process is simply not available to the average hunter.

All that is necessary is a split pelvic bone, legs open and allowing air circulation to dry out any remaining fluids.


The third aspect of good care is aging. I wholeheartedly support hanging a deer for at least a week, assuming the air temperature is reasonably cool. How cool depends on the average hourly temperature within a 24-hour period. For example, I have hung deer when the temperature during the afternoon reached 65 degrees. However, during the night, the temperature declined to the upper 30s. The previously mentioned 65 degrees occurred at 2:30 p.m. and lasted only an hour or so before declining. The internal temperature of the deer never rose above 40 degrees.

Aging should not be done until after the cape and head are removed for mounting.

For a modern shoulder mount it is important to stop the ventral incision no higher than the thoracic cavity (see Fig A). Most of the clients I talk to are concerned that this makes it difficult to remove the heart and lungs. However, the removal of the heart and lungs is completely unnecessary. The highest populations of bacteria and cause for spoilage lie below the diaphragm. It is only necessary to remove the stomach, intestines, etc. Later, after the animal is caped, the chest cavity may be opened and the heart, lungs and esophagus removed.

First, the trachea and esophagus need to be removed before hanging. This can only be done by first removing the skin (cape). Second, the aging process causes breakdown of the tissues, which tenderizes the meat. The unintended consequence could be the deterioration of the skin which would result in hair slippage. Take the deer to a taxidermist first. After caping, the carcass can be hung. I have used bags made out of old cotton bed sheets. The animal is completely enclosed in

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