Dall sheep caping questions

FishfinderAK

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Sep 25, 2015
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Hello I’m going on a diy dall Sheep hunt in interior AK this August.
If successful I would love to keep enough cape for a shoulder mount.

Do you guys cape out the skull in the field or bring out the skull w cape attached? Salt required?

If successful, ill likely be about 4 days (hike out and travel home) from a freezer.

Thank you in advance for your help!
 

Jimss

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Mar 6, 2015
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It would be best to cape the entire head. Do you have experience skinning capes? There is an art to getting the entire eyes, lips, nose, ears etc. I usually don't split the lips, ears, etc until home but it's also possible to do those in the field as well.
 

Yellowknife

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Fairbanks, Alaska
I've always caped in the field. A shoulder mount dall sheep cape is only about 3 lbs and in my mind easier to keep clean and cool if removed from the head. I usually turn the lips, ears, etc, but if you can get it out on a reasonable schedule the taxidermist will likely do a better job of it.

I've fleshed and salted capes several times when expecting to be in the field for an extended period, but generally the taxidermists I've talked to prefer that people got it too them in fresh raw condition. They stated they like to be able to look it over and do any remaining detail work on the head, etc while still green. Made sense to me, although all my salted capes have turned out fine.

Skulls get the jaw removed and the meat cut off to the extent possible to drop all the weight that I can. I did the last 3-4 as euro's, so didn't bring a saw. If I was going to cap them, a small saw would be worth the weight I think.
 

AK Troutbum

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Apr 22, 2012
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Chugiak, Alaska
I always cape in the field and usually split the lips and turn the ears as well, but not always. My taxi likes them unsalted and frozen as soon as possible. I used to salt in the field as well, but I haven’t even done that in the last 4-5 years, and haven’t had any issues with hair slipping, etc. If you’re only planning on being in the field for 4 days or so after the kill, I would think that you’ll have no problem with it unsalted, just be sure and take your time, and flesh it well.


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snowcamoman

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Feb 19, 2014
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I cape in the field and then turn lips, ears, etc. back at camp where I can sit down and take my time comfortably do the detail work. I've taken entire heads out on the cape as well as cut the skull and taken horns only. It all depends on how far and how nasty of a hike out it is. A 4 to 5 ounce saw is well worth it's weight vs. carrying the extra weight of an entire skull. I have never salted a sheep in the field and have never had problems with hair slipping. It's pretty easy to keep the hide cool in mountain river streams put into a heavy contractor bag.
 

Nick Muche

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Mar 21, 2012
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snowcamoman, can you recommend a 4-5 oz saw that would get the job done for skull capping?
 

Kotaman

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snowcamoman, can you recommend a 4-5 oz saw that would get the job done for skull capping?
Nick...How about a Havalon Barracuda with a saw blade...Should be under 5 oz. I did a moose with one, so I would think it would handle a sheep. (Plus, it can double as your knife, though not a real practical caping knife)
 

snowcamoman

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I've used a couple. This works decent enough on sheep:

https://www.outdooredge.com/products/flip-n-zip-saw-fw-45#specs

I also made my own saw using a split section of dowel that I pop-riveted a short Wyoming bone saw blade into so that it's a simple pull saw. I put a section of Gorilla tape over the teeth and it works excellent. For grip, I carved some knurling into the dowel so my hands won't slip off of it. It might actually weigh under 2 ounces, I don't recall exactly.
 

Kotaman

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I have the Outdoor Edge saw as well. Definitely a viable option, just not as versatile as the Barracuda.
 

npm352

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Apr 18, 2018
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I think it is ideal to take skull off and turn ears and lips. Hair slip can happen and preventing hair slip means getting it cool asap and keeping it cool. Lips are a pain but it is hard to screw them up. Be careful with ears...there are a lot of tricks and vids online regarding tools and such, but long story short, it is nice to have something stiff and skinny, but blunt (like the back of a metal fork) to help as you work your way up the ear. Leave enough on the edges together. If you slip, it isn't good, but it is fixable and taxidermist are used to less than perfect stuff. Also, as a hobbyist taxidermist (took a class and do a head every year or so), make the cuts smooth, not like a serrated knife...those are a pain to line up and sew.

Best of luck. Sounds like a great opportunity.
 

wantj43

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Aug 15, 2015
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42
Hello I’m going on a diy dall Sheep hunt in interior AK this August.
If successful I would love to keep enough cape for a shoulder mount.

Do you guys cape out the skull in the field or bring out the skull w cape attached? Salt required?

If successful, ill likely be about 4 days (hike out and travel home) from a freezer.

Thank you in advance for your help!
I would at least learn how to turn the lips and nose and ears. Then, if it becomes necessary you can process the cape while in the field. Most taxidermists are willing to show how it is done. We usually caped the animal then skinned out the head at camp; turned the etc. then did the fleshing then salted. The best saw I used was a small hand saw - looks like a regular hand saw but about 1/3 the size. Best of luck.
If you have a head I'll be happy to help you some evening.
Joe
 
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Snyd

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Feb 10, 2013
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AK
Like others have said...Cape it, split the lips, ears care for it like you care for meat and you'll be fine.
 

Bambistew

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Jan 5, 2013
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Alaska
Treat the cape like meat, it will be fine. I've kept unsalted hides up to a week in the field, but it wasn't super hot. I was sweating it on one trip with two capes and it being 60-65 deg for 2 days. They turned out ok though. I skin the head, split it, and get all the meat off . It doesn't hurt it to let it dry out. Less moisture is less chance of spoilage. Keep it shaded and cool, and in a game bag to keep the flies off. I've yet to salt a sheep cape in the field out of about a dozen, and never had an issue. Taking a couple pounds of salt wouldn't hurt to leave at the strip just in case, if you were to fly in. I have salted moose capes, but had room to fly in 15lbs of salt. It saved about that much in weight going home, but we were loaded too.

I always pack out the skull, so no help on a light weight the saw. I am in the hunt for a new one myself.

Not sure how much weight you really save by cutting, I always pack them out. I've weighed most of my skull/horns when I get home with them, they've range from 18-22lbs green. A clean skull no horns is almost exactly 4lbs on a half dozen I've weighed. meat cleaned up no brains/wet they are about 4.5 to maybe 5 tops. I have no idea what the skull cap would weigh, but most of the weight is in the horn cores and top of the skull. I suppose you could save a pound or two but cutting it, so the saw would make sense I suppose. Its a good problem to have!

Good luck on your hunt! I'm counting the days, and hope the smoke clears out.
 

SLDMTN

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Palmer, AK
Nick, check out the saw made by Knives of Alaska. In that 5oz range, bigger than the Havalon, and I just made a super thin carboard sheath to cover the edge.
That’s the saw I have as well. It’s earned it’s keep several times over. Also never cover the blade with duct tape for a sheath. What a cussing miserable experience that was when the duct tape came apart and left crap all over the blade, never again.

The taxidermist I used, he’s retired now, explained it to me like this:

Meat is meat, your hide won’t spoil faster than your meat. Treat it like your meat, keep it cool and get as much airflow as possible. If your meat is still keeping, your hide will keep. Also if it’s blood soaked, rinse it out. Sheep hair is hollow and will make it more difficult to get blood out later.

Other taxis may have a different opinion.
 
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