Field care and storage of your specimen till you deliver to taxidermist
Getting a quality mount back from the taxidermist starts in the field. As a taxidermist we must be able to preserve the skin of the specimen, whether it be bird, fur-bearer, fish, or crustacean, to accomplish this we need as fresh a specimen as possible.
In south Louisiana the decomposition can start in as little as one hour after the kill, depending on temperature, get it cold as quickly as possible. Using an ice chest to keep your specimen cold for a couple days is fine as long as you remove the drain plug and keep the specimen covered with ice. ( DO NOT LET FUR-BEARING ANIMALS OR BIRDS SOAK IN WATER ) Keep your specimen as clean, dry, an cold as you can until delivery to the Taxidermist.
Other factors determine the quality of mount such as missing feathers on birds, missing scales and damaged fins on fish, fighting scars, tick damage, missing hair, etc. on fur bearing animals. These things can be discussed with the Taxidermist upon inspection of the specimen when brought in . If specimen is frozen at the time of drop off, upon thawing the client can be notified of any flaws or problem areas that may need to be addressed, different positions can be used to help hide a lot of flaws.
Remember the better qaulity specimen in hand, the better the mount on the wall.
Small mammals should be wrapped in a plastic bag and rolled tight and taped closed before freezing.
All specimens should be kept in a chest type deep freezer, and not a frost free freezer like most upright freezers and refrigerators.
Deer heads should be placed in a large plastic bag ( like the heavy duty contractor bags available at most hardware stores ) and tied shut sealing out the air. If it is to be kept longer than 30 days in freezer double bag and seal well.
Fish should be placed in plastic bag and rolled tight and taped closed. If it is to be kept longer than 30 days, double bag it and seal well before freezing.
Birds should have their heads placed between a wing and the body and wrapped in plastic bag ( such as the 15 gallon kitchen bags ) care should be taken to avoid bending the wing tips and tails. If the bird is bloody try to remove as much blood as you can with a wet cloth by blotting the feathers, any areas that is heavy blood soaked should be wet with clean water before wrapping ( this will help with the removal of blood from feathers later ). If you bird is a white bird, place cotton or paper towels in his mouth to absorb any blood or fluids that will drain before freezing. If bird is to remain in freezer more than 30 days wrap feet in wet paper towels or wet cotton and place the same over eyes and double bag before freezing.
It would be difficult to cover the proper packaging of all animals, but the important thing to remember is that air is the enemy of any specimen frozen for more than 30 days, whatever you are freezing make sure you remove as much air from packaging as possible and seal well before freezing.