How to Care for Taxidermy at Home
Are you a hunter or an outdoor enthusiast? You’ll likely be interested in investing in animal taxidermy to display on the wall of your home or cabin. You’ve worked hard to successfully hunt the animal, so now you’ll want to preserve your trophy so that it lasts for many years to come. For best, long-lasting results, you’ll want to touch your mount only when necessary, such as when you need to clean or store it. While the taxidermist did most of the preservation work for you, you’ll still want to dust your animal(s) to prevent any fading or discoloration from occurring.
We’ll discuss tips for how to properly care for your taxidermy when you bring it home. It isn’t just a matter of simply hanging it on the wall once you receive it and leaving it untouched. Here are some top tips and tricks from the experts for how to properly keep your taxidermy in great shape!
Taxidermy Care Tips: Where should I hang my trophy mount?
A common question that beginners have is where they should hang their taxidermy mount. To start, you will want to keep your taxidermy in a controlled area away from any heat, moisture, or sunlight. Below are some tips to consider:
- Avoid hanging your trophy mount in the sunlight where UV rays can shine in and ensure you keep your taxidermy out of direct sunlight.
- You’ll want to make sure that you don’t place your taxidermy mounts anywhere where there is very low or high levels of humidity. For example, you’ll want to refrain from hanging your taxidermy in your garage or in a screened-in porch. High levels of humidity can lead to mold and mildew growing on your mount.
- Due to heat, we don’t recommend this, but if you plan to hang your taxidermy above your fireplace, ensure that you use your fireplace very sparingly or that you have sufficient humidity in your room to ensure your mount stays in great shape.
- In addition, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t hang your trophies in areas of your home where they might be accidentally bumped, touched by children, or otherwise inadvertently moved.
How do I hang my taxidermy?
For shoulder mounts, your taxidermist should have a quality hanger installed on the back. Depending on the size and weight of the animal, you can expect to hang your taxidermy from either a single screw, toggle bolt, or a lag screw.
To hang your taxidermy piece, you’ll need tools such as a cordless drill, drill bits, tape measure, stud finder, screw assortment, level, screwdriver, and step ladder.
How do I properly clean my mount?
Another common question is how proud owners of a taxidermy piece can clean their mount so that it stays in great shape. If you have a lot of dust that gathers in your room, you’ll want to clean it about twice a month. Below are some tips to caring for your taxidermy so that it looks as good as when you first got it!
- For mammals – you’ll want to use a soft cloth dampened slightly with 409® solution. Do not directly spray the taxidermy. Use just enough 409® cleaner to wipe off the dust. Also, be sure you brush the fur in the proper direction. Don’t brush the fur back.
- For birds – you can gently dust them using a cotton ball. Make sure you brush in the natural direction of the feathers.
- For fish – you should utilize a can of compressed air (that produces less than 20 pounds of pressure). If dust is still caught between the fish’s scales, you can further clean it using a dampened cotton swab.
- For antlers and horns – you may also use a 409® cleaner to clean the dust off. Wipe them down using a soft cloth.
- For eyes – utilize a cotton swab and a slight amount of 409® (or glass cleaner) to dampen the cotton. Do not saturate the cotton. Use the lightly dampened cotton swab to gently clean the eyes of the taxidermy mount. Avoid making contact with any painted surfaces around the animal’s eye.
How do I prevent pests from eating/infesting the mount?
If you notice insects eating at your taxidermy, it may start to cause the fur to slip. Moths are a major culprit. To prevent insects eating your taxidermy or laying eggs at the base of the hair, take your mount(s) off the wall and place them in a freezer for a few days. This will kill off any bugs that are gnawing at the mount.
If you notice bugs infesting multiple taxidermy pieces, you will need to look into insect fogging/bug bombing your entire room.
Where should I store my taxidermy?
In the instance where you are not displaying your taxidermy, you’ll want to store them indoors in a dark, dry area (between 60 and 80°F) that doesn’t have insects. You’ll also want to avoid storing your mounts in an area where the humidity levels exceed 60%.
If possible, be sure to store your taxidermy within wooden crates. To prevent your taxidermy from tipping, we recommend attaching your mount to the bottom of the crate with screws. Also, you should consider using poison pellets and silica gel to prevent pests from accessing the mount. As mentioned already, you can use bug bombing to prevent a possible infestation. Also, periodically be sure to open the crate and clean your taxidermy to keep it looking as good as new.
Are there taxidermy care tips I need to know when hunting that help make for a successful mounting?
After a successful hunting trip, you’ll want to make sure that you properly transport your animal from point A to point B. Here are tips for a successful mounting:
- Make sure you protect the cape. One of the most common times to ruin your hide is during the process of dragging the animal to the truck. For example, don’t drag a white-tailed deer with its back legs. You’ll want to drag the animal from its antlers or front legs instead to keep its shoulder, neck, and head off the ground.
- When butchering a buck, do not hang it by its neck, because the stress of the rope can cause damage to the animal’s hide. Instead, hang the deer by its back legs. Don’t cut the throat to bleed the deer out.
- When caping your deer, be sure to make your slices from the inside out using a sharpened knife for the best quality cut. (Using a dull knife will make the process of caping much harder and risk messing up the cape.) The first cut involves cutting all around the deer’s torso. This process involves making a cut halfway between the front and back legs that goes down the rib cage, across the stomach, over the opposite rib cage, across the back, and finishing where the cut started. Once complete with the first cut, you can start with the legs. This is done by making a cut above the knee, which goes around the front leg. Do this for both the left and right leg. Once the circular cuts have been made around the torso and legs, you’ll cut down the back of the front legs in a straight line to connect the cuts. Once you’ve completed this step on both legs, you can carefully skin the deer. Taxidermists advise to not make any more cuts in the animal after this step for the best results for your mount.
- Once you have successfully shot your deer and caped it, you will need to get it to your taxidermy service as soon as possible. If you are unable to get your deer to your taxidermist quickly, ask them ahead of time about the proper steps to freeze the animal. In the meantime, you will want to treat the hide as if it is very fragile and keep it out of the elements, away from sunlight, and away from bugs. A well-kept hide is much easier for a taxidermist to work with.
- When you place your cape in the freezer, ensure that you don’t leave it sitting in a wrinkled position as this will damage it. Leaving your cape wrinkled will be noticeable later when it has thawed. Make sure you have flattened out any wrinkles. Your taxidermy hide should be rolled up – not bunched up.
To harvest your game, it takes a lot of skill and practice, but the time and investment is well worth the wait. So now that you have your specimen, you’ll want to ensure you do everything you can to prevent fading, infestation, and discoloration from occurring. Taxidermy care is essential for mount so that it can last a long time. With proper care and knowledge, your taxidermy mount can last a lifetime! Find out more about handling and hanging your taxidermy here.