Deer hunting is indeed an exciting sport, and trophies are popular reminders of successful days afield. Head mounts, racks and hides are the most common deer-hunting trophies. However, deer legs are often used as gun racks, lamp bases and bookends. Hides also can be used to make items of clothing, wallets and purses. Whether you decide to make your own trophy or leave the job to a professional, the way you handle your deer from the moment it is downed will affect the quality of the product.
For instance, if you plan to mount your deer head, do not cut the animal’s throat. In fact, make no cuts in the head and neck region other than those indicated in the following diagram. This method of skinning will allow plenty of hide for a full head-neck-and-shoulder mount. After skinning, sever the head from the neck and take head, antlers and hide to your taxidermist. If you anticipate any trouble, you might let your taxidermist tackle the caping chore.
Another method of displaying antlers that is inexpensive, yet attractive, is to attach them directly to a backboard or wall. Simply saw off a good, solid section of skull with the antlers and fasten through a hole drilled in the middle. Deer hide or felt can be used to cover the skull-plate, if desired.
If you plan to have the hide processed, remove all the flesh and fat from the skin with a dull knife while the skin is fresh. If you cannot work on the skin when it is fresh, freeze it until you are ready and then allow it to thaw. Then rub salt onto the flesh side and roll it up, flesh side in and send it off to the processor.
A list of licensed taxidermists is available on request from the Conservation Department. There also are a number of reputable companies that will process your deer hides if you do not want to do it yourself.
Recognizing record antler points
The Missouri Show-Me Big Bucks Club is a statewide organization affiliated with the Boone and Crockett Club. The purposes of the club are to officially recognize Missouri trophy deer heads and to honor the successful hunter, to promote interest in and appreciation for Missouri deer hunting, to promote sportsmanship among deer hunters, to establish and maintain a permanent record of trophy deer heads taken in Missouri and to assist eligible members to receive national recognition from the Boone and Crockett Club.
Membership in the club is available to any hunter who has, during any legal hunting season, taken a trophy that meets the standards of the club. Scoring is based on the system of measurements developed by the Boone and Crockett Club. Official club scorers are located throughout the state. Membership in the Show-Me Big Bucks Club will be based on scores submitted by the official club scorers, verified if necessary by officials of the club. Minimum scores for membership are 140 points for typical and 155 points for non-typical deer taken statewide. Other organizations also keep records of antler points, such as Archery Big Bucks of Missouri and Pope and Young Club.
Many beautiful racks of antlers are taken in Missouri each fall. Larry Gibson (see page 19) took our best typical trophy head in 1971 in Randolph County. The antlers scored 205 points on the Boone and Crockett system and ranked third in the latest edition of the club’s records of North American Big Game. The world-record non-typical whitetail was found in St. Louis County in 1981. It scored 333 7/8.
Do you have a record set of antlers? A score of more than 140 is exceptional and should be entered in the record book. Go to the Boone and Crockett website and score your deer’s rack according to the instructions on the official score sheet.