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niceshot_smitty's picture
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Location: Los Alamos, NM
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Caping a Elk on the ground

what is the best way to Cape a trophy Elk on the ground when you can't get him off the ground in tree or something.  And not lose any meat.  If you can point me in the right way of this cool.

Critter's picture
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The best way to deal with

The best way to deal with good meat on the ground so that you don't get it dirty is to use a plastic tarp under the animal.  What I have done without a tarp is to use the hide.  Just skin one side around the elk as far as you can then roll him over and skin the other side.  As for the meat start to either quarter him or bone the meat off of the bones and place it into meat sacks, not plastic bags and place them in the shade.  Once you have 99% of him taken care of then go ahead and split the hide down the top of the back bone from the base of the skull to about mid body and then skin the neck out and remove it.  Now you just have the skull and antlers to deal with.  If you know how then go ahead and cape the skull out, if you don't or have never done it then pack the skull and antlers out in one piece and get it to your taxidermist. 

If you really have any questions on how to do this talk to your taxidermist.  He will show you right where to cut and how to cape it out.  It is a lot easier to show a person how to do this than explain it on a computer. 

arrowflipper's picture
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I agree

I agree with Critter on everything he said.  I have used that technique on several elk, even when I didn't want to cape them.  Skin one side, roll the animal over and skin the other.  Make sure the meat stays on the hide and you can quarter or debone the meat in relative cleanliness. 

Now, what to do with the cape.  I have caped several animals, but before I did my first one, I went to a taxidermist and asked him to give me a lesson.  I was headed to Alaska for a caribou and was sure I wanted to cape it for a mount.  My taxidermist showed me exactly how he wanted me to do it, right down to the eyes, nose and ears.  And yes, I did get a caribou and I did cape it.

Since then, I've caped several deer and a moose.  But those were only when I had to.  Only when I could not bring the head in whole. 

Here's what I would suggest.  If you can carry the head and antlers out whole, do NOT cape it yourself.  Follow the method Critter said except for one detail.  I do not slit the cape up the backbone.  I tube it to as close to the head as I can and then cut the neck off.  Then I cut the cape off behind the front legs giving my taxidermist plenty of cape to work with.  I would pack the head, antlers and cape out in one load, take it to my taxidermist and let him cape it He will be happy to do it and in most cases, will do a better job than we would out in the field.

When I got my moose in Alaska, we field dressed it, cut it in half, loaded both halves onto four wheelers and took it to the cabin.  I then stayed up until two or three in the morning carefully caping it.  We put the head up on a large table where I could get at it.  Being as inexperienced as most of us are at caping, we need every advantage we can get. 

If you have to cape it in the field, follow Critter's advice and then use a small sharp knife to cape down over the face and nose.  I'd leave as much meat and skin on as I could around the eyes and nose.  Let the taxidermist take care of it in his shop.

Good luck getting that trophy bull.  And good luck caping it if you have to.

 

niceshot_smitty's picture
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Location: Los Alamos, NM
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Thanks for the good info.  I

Thanks for the good info.  I will pay more attion to what i do.  i will probly pack out the head hole and let the expert to the hard work.  Just got to be ready this fall since i will be hunting the land of Gaint Bulls here in New Mexico.  i was told to expect to see a lot of elk, it would just be up to me to get one.  not saying it is a slam dunk hunt, just i need to be ready for a bull that could be 380 to 400 in this unit.  I can only hope and see.

arrowflipper's picture
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saliva

YOu have saliva running down my chin just reading about where you're going.  Good luck.  Take lots and lots and lots of pictures.  Did I mention taking lots of pictures?  Go get em Smitty!!

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Location: Montana
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Working as a guide I often

Working as a guide I often ask each hunter how his Taxidermist wants it caped. I personally perfer tubing them,some of the older guys like or atleast done mind stitching the neck which is easier on me but I know a chance of the mount not being perfect when done.

If you dont have to face cap it ,dont untill you have someone really teach you how,crowns, eyes and mouth screw ups are fastest way to make your taxidermist cuss and your wallet to get lighter.

niceshot_smitty's picture
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Location: Los Alamos, NM
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ok.  thanks for the info.  i

ok.  thanks for the info.  i think i will be good this fall.  1st i should plan on getting a elk on the ground..  then i will work on caping it out. 

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you have got some good advise

you will do fine, it isn't that hard, you should be able to have it quartered caped and baged up in 2 hours or less.

Kevin

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I have never killed an elk

I have never killed an elk big enough to have to worry about caping it out and so merely cut the head off and skinned it out very roughly. I have however skinned and quartered many and like the others have said if care is taken it should not be that hard to skin it out up to the base of the skull and let your taxidermist do the rest. It will be a lot more work just carrying it out on your back like I do unless you have some horses to help you out. Just don't get in a hurry and you won't have any problems.

Good luck on your hunt and let us know how it goes from the scouting till the finish.

tim
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I would figure out if you

I would figure out if you need to cape the animal before you gut the animal.  even if you use the gutless technique you want to know if you need to be careful with the knife before you use the knife.  the mains are thick on elk.  Also leave plenty of hide behind the front shoulders so the taxidermist has some hide to work with.  Which is why you want to know if you are caping or not.  Also rolling elk over is not easy, even when quartered, especially if solo. 

 

once you have done a couple it is not that bad.

 

niceshot_smitty's picture
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Location: Los Alamos, NM
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I won't be solo, but it will

I won't be solo, but it will be both of are 1st time trying to cape a elk.  don't get me wrong we have both killed elk, but not trophys.  I got some pictures the other day from a guy my dad works with and he is liking the area so far we are going to hunt.  he has found lots of bulls and and doesn't think the they will be far from where they are now.  of course we got to get through 3 bow hunts and a youth hunt before my hunt.  but he took one picture of a 7x7 already and a few 6x6's.  Thanks for all the help you have shared.  hope to show you all pictures in late Oct.

 

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