Every fall, hunters go into the field looking for that big racked buck to hang on the wall. It all starts with many hours of scouting in late summer and early fall. When that buck finally is spotted and his daily activities are learned, stands are set up with hopes of getting a shot.

When the hunter finally takes the deer and decides to have a taxidermy mount made, some important procedures must take place. Doc Recknagel, from Doc’s Taxidermy in Enid, sees all types of mistakes being made by hunters when they bring in their hide for shoulder mounts.

Some of these are hard to correct and sometimes impossible to repair. If the cape is too short, the shoulder mount becomes a head mount. If the throat is slit, a seam may not completely disappear when it is sewn back up. If the animal was dragged through dirt, extra cleaning is necessary. Also, if the hunter waited too long to take the hide to the taxidermist, the hide becomes deteriorated and hair starts to slip, making it worthless.

Recknagel has made several suggestions for field care that will make it easier for the taxidermist to do a great job of mounting the deer.

With the deer on its back, make a shallow cut through the skin just below the breastbone. Make sure you start your cut away from the brisket, allowing plenty of uncut skin for your shoulder mount. Do not cut open the chest cavity. Cut the diaphragm away from the ribs all the way to the backbone area. Reach into the chest cavity, find the esophagus and wind pipe. Cut them off as far as possible and pull them down through the chest.

In the field using a sharp knife, slit the hide circling the body behind the shoulder at the middle of the rib cage behind the front legs. Slit the skin around the legs just above the knees. Remove the lower leg. Peel the skin up to the ears and jaw, exposing the head-neck junction.

Cut into the neck about 3 inches down from this junction. Circle the neck, cutting down to the spinal column. After this cut is complete, grasp the antler bases, and twist the head off the neck. This should allow the hide to be rolled up and put in a freezer until transported to the taxidermist.

If you’re not sure where these cuts should be made or have any questions, Recknagel suggests you call him at his shop at 234-4085. He will talk you through the process or ask you to bring in the carcass, and he will show you where the cuts should be made.

Many trophies are ruined in the first few hours after death. As soon as the animal dies, bacteria begins to attack the carcass. Warm, humid weather accelerates bacteria growth. Recknagel suggests you remove the hide as quickly as possible and get it into a freezer.

Caping, the process of skinning out a trophy animal for taxidermy, is best left to the taxidermist. Their experience skinning the delicate nose, mouth, eyes, and ears is invaluable to producing a quality mount.

Outdoor Trivia

Trophy hunters should have this answer. There are 100 members in the Boone and Crocket Club. A “precocious” chick is born with feathers and is ready to venture forth within hours.

For this week: Where is the largest geyser in the world located? Name the first professional angler to win more than $100,000 in prize money.

Caviar for cash

The Wildlife Commission heard about an innovative concept that would turn a commodity typically thrown away by anglers into dollars that can be used for conservation. The idea involves collecting, processing and selling paddlefish eggs as caviar on the international market.

Historically, caviar has come from sturgeon in the Caspian Sea. However that fishery essentially has collapsed and will not be able to produce sturgeon caviar for at least 25 years. Caviar made from paddlefish eggs has proven to be a comparable, if not equal, substitute for sturgeon caviar. As the supply of caviar has decreased, the demand and price for a caviar substitute has increased.

Paddlefish are found in several river drainages in the state. The population in the Grand River system has been studied for the past 25 years. Each spring thousands of paddlefish move upstream to spawn. This fishery, arguably the healthiest paddlefish population in the United States, draws anglers from across the state and the nation for the chance to reel in one of the huge fish, which can exceed 100 pounds.

Many of these anglers choose to clean their fish and take home the meat. However, the eggs often are discarded. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation proposed to the commission the eggs voluntarily be collected from sport anglers so they could be sold to fund paddlefish research, management and law enforcement. Similar operations have been in place in Montana and North Dakota since 1989.

After discussion, the commission voted to finance a feasibility study and business plan for the project to determine if the proposal would be financially feasible in Oklahoma.

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