How To Cape a Deer for Taxidermy (Complete Guide)

How to cape a deer? is a frequently asked question and Here is the detailed guide for you.

After hours of enjoying deer hunting, you can start preserving the animal to put it up as a trophy. 

However, the task of getting it up on the wall or stuffed for display can be challenging if you are only a clever hunter. A taxidermist must take over and remove the skin so that you can preserve the animal in its glory!

Caping is the process of skinning out the animal. It requires delicate skill to remove the skin from around the nose, eyes, and ears—many of us are reluctant to start. It’s also one of the best deer hunters’ gifts.

Here is the Step by Step Caping Process.

• The first cut: 

Before you skin the animal, make a circle around the creature, starting at the middle rib. Cut all around the middle rib region. 

Many people cut the cape short but remember, it is better to shorten afterward than to lose it all! A taxidermist will cut it short if it is not needed, but make sure you provide him/her with as much material as possible.

• The perpendicular

The next cut will be from between the ears, down to the circle at the middle rib. You can cut down along the black line that runs down the back of the neck. 

Your knife should be sharp as you don’t want any shreds and tears that make your mount an untidy one. The perpendicular cut should meet the circle and try to keep it a straight line!

• Bigger ring: 

The third cut has to be above the forelegs. This circle will be the lower end of your mount. From the knee up, so it tubes like a sock. Make sure that you do not cut from the middle of the armpit! It could ruin your cape.

After the challenge of cutting around the legs is done, you can skin the deer as usual. However, when you hunt down the deer, it remains warm for a long time. The warmth is in the meat, but the hide may get spoiled if you don’t remove it soon, it may never look like an impressive cape!

Also Read: Are Deer Active in the Rain

• Skinning the skull: 

The real challenge of caping is the part where you start skinning the skull. 

You can see a ‘Y’ that starts in between the ears and goes towards each antler, right?. Cut from between the ears towards both the antlers. 

Now you can cut each antler back to the Y, and it is right in front of you-a a clear Y from between ears to the antlers. After skinning around the antlers, you will be ready to skin the skull.

• As you carefully skin down till the eyes, 

Be careful as you wouldn’t want to cut off the back corner of the eyes! Use your fingers to move lighter, and the skin will move away from the skull as you use the tip of the knife to move the skin away from the skull as your fingers help remove the skin deeper.

Another challenging area will be the preorbital gland or the scent gland in the front corner of the deer’s eyes. 

The problem with skinning is to understand how the skin is caving into the skull at the site of the gland. You have to slightly scoop in, and ensure that the glands are out before you move further down the face of your trophy animal!

Before moving down to the mouth, move the animal to face you so that you can work upwards from the lower side of the cape. As you skin down to the corner of the mouth, you will have to cut around the lip as well. 

Again, to provide your taxidermist with more material, try to cut around 3/4inch off the lip from inside the mouth. You would want to keep the whole lip area to create a hundred percent correct deer face when mounted. 

Take your knife to make an incision at the end of the mouth, above the jaw. Cut through the gums and lip to get all the cheek area, without losing any skin on the skull. You have to remove the skin from both the top and bottom jaw.

• Skinning the nose

When You have loosened off the skin from the eyes and mouth—Start skinning down on top of the muzzle area. Use your skin to hold up the loose skin as you make small cuts in the skin as close to the skull as possible. 

Make sure you use short movements to get the skin off the nose area and as you reach the top of the nose. 

The nose is cartilage like a human nose. Around 1.5 inches above the nose pad, you have to cut through, and the best way to do it is through the mouth. Above the upper jawbone, cut into the soft gum area and make a way up to the cartilage that starts from the top of the nose.

The objective is to keep the black nose tip intact and even if you provide a lot of cartilage and gum flesh at the back, it can be cut out of the mount.

• Steps to follow

Now that you have the skin detached from the skull, take note of the bones that you can keep for better mounting. First of all, you would need the antlers and the small bone portion that covers the forehead and antler area of the deer. 

A foldable saw can get this job done without any hassle. Another quick tip is that you would want to store the cape in a cool place. It is advised that you only fold the hide once and keep it away until it is at room temperature. 

Once the cape has no warmth left, you can roll it up to deliver it to the taxidermist that turns your hunting success into a trophy!

Also Read: Best States for Hunting


Caping a deer may sound too technical but a hunter can do it with ease. Make sure you have the right equipment and use a sharp knife to do all the cutting. 

We have explained the process of caping in simple steps, however, you can always make it another adventure to share with friends!

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