Before heading out on your trophy hunt, talk to your taxidermist about the type of mount you want. That way, he’ll know what you expect, and vice versa when it comes to how you prepare the animal. If you plan to skin your trophy yourself, for example, and you want a shoulder or pedestal-style mount, you’ll need to make a Y-shaped cut straight up the back of the neck and out to the back of the base of each antler. If you want a full-bodied mount, on the other hand, you’ll need to skin the animal using a dorsal incision. As for a rug mount, make sure you use a belly incision. These are three totally different techniques, and by getting instructions from your taxidermist before the hunt, you’ll be able to deliver your trophy in the best condition possible.
Some hunters prefer to cape out their own trophies and cut the antlers off the skull, or leave a small portion of the skull cap attached. It’s better, though, to leave the antlers attached and bring the entire skull to the taxidermist. That way, he can take measurements before cutting off the skull cap and antlers so that the finished product looks as realistic as possible. This also gives you the option of going with a European mount, which may better fit into your budget. You can buy reproduction skulls if the skull cap is already cut, but nothing looks as good as the real thing.
Finally, if the antlers are still in velvet, don’t touch them, and get your trophy to a taxidermist or into a freezer as quickly as possible. The velvet is extremely delicate, and extra care must be taken to preserve it immediately after the animal is down.