One of the most common questions about skinning and caping big game is how to safely store the hide until you can get your trophy to a taxidermist.
The answer is… You can do either or, but don’t do both!
Salting Your Cape – If you intend on salting the cape for storage, then you’ll need to make sure you cape out the entire face, and this includes turning the lips, the ears and splitting the nose as well. For a bear, you’re going to have get into the paws and remove the pads for a rug, or cut along-side and underneath the pads for a life size. On a bear you’ll also have to remove the finger joints/bones and the cartiledge from the tail.
I buy salt by the 40lbs bag at Costco and it’s less than $6, if memory serves me right. When you salt the hide, it will penetrate about 1/4″, so you’ll need to make sure you’ve removed enough fat/meat off the hide for the salt to do it’s job.
Really take some time to work the salt into all the cracks and crevices in the face and surrounding the lips/ears. Salting your cape is the right way to go, but if you don’t know what you are doing you’ll do more harm then good.
DO NOT FREEZE A SALTED CAPE – Salt works to prevent the freezing and can leave you with a ruined cape.
Freezing Your Cape – If you’ve got the luxury of freezer space to house your animals cape then freezing might be the option for you. If the freezer is your planned storage option, then you won’t have to worry about turning lips or ears but you will still have to cape out the face properly. It is NOT advisable to freeze the whole headwith the skull still inside.
Before placing your cape in the freezer make sure it’s been open to the air for a while and has had a chance to cool down prior. Fold your cape skin-to-skin and then place in the freezer, check it in another hour or so and it should have cooled down considerably, but still not quite frozen. At this point, roll it up and put back in the freezer.
If you just throw the cape in without letting it cool down first, the hair on the animals cape is an insulator, and can cause spoliage and hair slippage on portions of your cape that didn’t cool quick enough. This is especially true with bear hides.