How to Cape a Deer – How To Cape A Deer For Mounting

Deer hunting is one of the most popular categories of outdoor sports, but there are a few technicalities involved which you will learn as you go along. You will be confronted with the issue how to cape a deer from your first successful deer hunt.

You may be in the company of an experienced hunter who will show you what to do. However, you may not have this advantage. We bring you this step-by-step guide that shows you how to cape a deer even if you have never done it before. It is simpler than you imagined.

It is important to retain the head, neck, and shoulders, extracting them from the rest of the carcass and preserving them properly until you reach a taxidermist. Protecting these parts is very critical to the entire caping process which is the reason for this useful guide.

Related: Where To Shoot A Deer – Top 5 Best Places To Shoot A Deer


What you will need:

  • A sharp set of knives, preferably 2 to 3 of different sizes
  • Surgical gloves
  • Waterproof apron
  • Hacksaw Frame
  • Spare Hacksaw Blades
  • Small Screwdriver
  • Waste cloth for wiping
  • A bucket of water
  • Mug

How to Cape a Deer - How to Cape your Deer

We often make mistakes with the most obvious things, so it’s always a good idea to follow a set procedure, especially while doing something which you cannot redo. You can ruin a perfectly good cape without adequate knowledge. If you just follow these simple steps, you will be able to get the perfect trophy made:

Where to Start

Where to Start cape a deer

Make the first cut around the midsection of the carcass, preferably around the center of the stomach.

Now cut the skin from the center of the back to the base of the head. You will have to make a short incision if it is for an early season mule or whitetail due to the relatively shorter fur.

If your deer has velvet covered antlers, you need to part the hair between the velvet and the head skin and make a cut there. Making this incision will prevent the velvet from peeling off.

This step is only necessary on velvet-covered antlers. Part the hair between the skin of the head and the velvet and cut directly between them, separating the velvet and the hide.



Now you can start removing the skin from the sides starting at the cut on the abdomen and moving towards the head.

Using a thin, sharp knife in your right hand, pull the skin with your left hand (if you are right-handed, or else reverse this) gently scraping the area just below the skin with your knife. The skin will begin to part from the flesh.

Roll the carcass over and repeat the same process on the other side.

Tip: Place the hide back onto the side of the animal before rolling it over to keep the flesh clear of dirt.

Skinning the Head

Skinning the Head

Sever the head by making a cut at the last vertebra.

Skin the neck part and cut the ear at the base of the skull. Cutting the ear a bit longer than required is a safe option to take.

To remove the antler skin, you would have to cut with your knife upside down while cutting towards the antler base as you pull away from the skin from the bone. You will find a screwdriver useful for this.

Take special care while cutting around the eyes. Avoid cutting the back corner of the eye by inserting your finger behind the eye socket to carefully feel where you need to cut. Make sure that you don’t cut the eyelid.

You need to use your finger again while skinning the mouth. If you cut the corners of the mouth, it is hard to fix later on. With the mouth, leave about 3/8 to 1/2 inch of the gum tissue on the hide. The taxidermist will then use this skin as a filler by the taxidermist.

Finally, when you reach the nose, cut it off at the point where the cartilage meets the bone and gently remove it.

Your cape should now be ready for transportation to the taxidermist or to be preserved by freezing or salting if you are not going to the taxidermist immediately.

Pro Tips and Tricks

  • Do not make any incisions on the throat or anywhere in the middle of the cape. Unnecessary cuts may be not possible to hide even by stitching on the finished trophy.
  • Always leave some overlap for good measure. Your taxidermist will be able to trim off extra skin for a perfect fit, but it isn't possible to add more if the hide is too short.
  • Avoid leaving chunks of meat on the cape as far as possible. Minimizing the flesh reduces the weight of the cape and creates less work for the taxidermist.
  • Never drag the carcass. If you drag it, you may create bald patches. If you are unable to cape the carcass at the kill site, lift the animal to transport it to another location,
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight. The ears are especially susceptible to deterioration.
  • You should put the cape in a plastic bag if you are going to freeze it immediately.
  • Avoid using black garbage bags for containing the cape because they absorb heat. White game bags are available for transporting capes.
  • Time is a very critical factor. Try to get your cape to the taxidermist as soon as possible. If this is not possible, you can freeze it. Capes can be preserved for months if properly frozen.
  • During hot weather, you could cool down the cape for about 10 minutes. You can cool it down by hanging it under the shade of a tree.
  • While packing the cape for transportation, roll it with the fur on the outside to keep the temperature down.oint 1


After reading this step-by-step procedure on how to cape a deer, you should be more confident of doing an efficient job. You should not be hasty while caping a deer. You require loads of patience, especially if you are doing this for the first time.

This job is something that you cannot redo, where each step is irreversible. Therefore, you need to be sure of each action – to coin a clichéd term; it’s not rocket science. But then again, it’s not that simple, either.

We hope this guide will help you to cape a deer in the correct way so that you end up with a trophy that you can be proud to possess. Please share your opinion with comments and feedback on our feedback section, and if you have any questions, we will get back to you.

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