Trophy Care Afield

By Glen Wunderlich

It was a snowy scene in the Upper Peninsula’s Iron County 30 years ago, when I pulled the trigger on a wall-hanger buck.  I had never taken anything worthy of a mount before then, and if I knew then what I know today, I would have gone about the process of field dressing quite differently. 


My mistake centered on ignorance of how to prepare an animal for taxidermy – mostly because I never even considered anything other than getting the beast cooled off and into the truck.  After slicing the animal through the ribs, as always, I later learned that the hide was ruined for a shoulder mount and I had to pay for another cape. 


Here are some tips from professional taxidermist, Nick Saade of Lansing, who shares his wisdom so you may have the best results with your prize.


Head and neck shots are to be avoided.  If you have time to make a good shot and already know you have a trophy in your sights and may choose to mount it, a shot at the heart and/or lungs is best.  A good taxidermist can hide many mistakes, but is not a magician.

Taxidermist, Nick Saade, with a Michigan buck

Taxidermist, Nick Saade, with a Michigan buck


If you can avoid dragging the animal, do so.  A rope around the neck is a bad idea and so is dragging by the rear legs.  Be prepared with a sled or alternate method of moving the animal.  If you must drag the deer, attempt to keep the head and neck areas off the ground during the process.  And, never hang an animal by the neck.  Stuff toilet paper or paper towels in the nostrils and mouth to prevent blood stains.


Skin the animal right away and keep it cool.  Do not cut into the ribs and cut about 4 inches behind the shoulders and roll the hide up toward the head.  If you are not experienced, it’s best to keep the head intact and let your taxidermist do the intricate skinning around the face.  Get it to the taxidermist as soon as possible.


If you cannot bring the animal to your taxidermist immediately, freeze the hide without using salt.  Obviously, this is not always possible, but it is the preferred method.


If you are in a remote area, salting the hide will lock in the hair so it doesn’t “slip” and ruin the cape, but not just any salt is good; only non-iodized salt or Kosher salt is to be used.  Fleshing will be more difficult as a result later, but is doable.


Keep it dry.  Wipe out any excess blood and do not use any plastic bags for storage.


Taxidermist Nick Saade keeps a few extra capes in stock, in the event damage is beyond repair and will cost $100 on average.  However, if your trophy is much larger than average, a replacement cape can add as much as $300 to $400 to the job.

Good time critters

Good time critters


Nick recreates a dramatic Michigan State football win over Michigan in 2015 with ground squirrels

Nick recreates a dramatic Michigan State football win over Michigan in 2015 with ground squirrels

Animal magnetism

Animal magnetism

Pipe dream or nightmare

Pipe dream or nightmare

Unlike taxidermists that only dabble in the business, Nick’s full-time business is taxidermy.  He strives to get all jobs done within four months, which allows for a fair amount of drying time at a most reasonable cost of $400 for shoulder mounts.  I have found Nick to be quite imaginative with his displays of all mammals, fish, and birds and he can be reached at his shop at 517-485-3669.

USFWS Decision on Importation of Lion Trophies from South Africa

On October 20, Director of US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Dan Ashe announced the decision regulating the import of sport-hunted lion trophies under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) from South Africa. The United States will not allow the import of lion trophies taken from captive lion populations in South Africa. However, wild and wild-managed lions from South Africa will receive import permits.
Safari Club International and the hunting community has been waiting for a decision on which range nations would be approved to import lion hunting trophies to the United States since USFWS listed the African lion under the ESA in December 2015.

As for other lion-range countries, Ashe says USFWS is still reviewing permit applications for those areas. The four African nations, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, will only receive permits to import sport hunted lion trophies if USFWS receives sufficient evidence of the long term benefits to their wild lion populations.   USFWS along with CITES has recognized the importance hunting plays in conservation. Ashe stated USFWS determined, “that sport hunting of wild and wild-managed lions does contribute to the long-term conservation of the species in South Africa,” and continued to explain that, “lions are not in trouble because of responsible sport hunting.”

This conclusion is a blow to the anti-hunting rhetoric put forward by organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and International Fund for Animal Welfare. The USFWS’s conclusion contradicts the assertions made by these anti-hunting organizations. The on the ground facts and the science simply did not support their position.

Not only does hunting enhance the survival of many species but also enhances the communities that support hunting on their land. Communities benefit from trophy hunting through hunting concession payments or other hunter investments, which typically support improved community services like water infrastructure, schools and health clinics; gaining jobs as guides, game guards, wildlife managers and other hunting-related employment; and gaining access to meat.
SCI will continue to work with wildlife authority agencies, in conjunction with professional hunting associations, to provide a clear link between the hunting of lions and the enhancement of the species. Scientific principles, not the emotionalism of anti-hunters, should provide the foundation for the management of wildlife and habitat.   Read Dan Ashe’s announcement on the Huffington Post here.

12 Survivors Mini First Aid Kits: Your off-the-grid medic

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS) – Out here, you’re the first responder. When things happen, 12 Survivors offers first aid solutions with the Mini First Aid Rollup Kit (TS42002B) and the Mini Medic First Aid Kit (TS42003B). Used to treat a variety of injuries, these small kits pack powerful medical attention when doctors are miles away. Designed for easy, compact carrying, both kits are easily packable for camping and hiking, and can be stored in a vehicle for emergency situations.

The 80-piece 12 Survivors Mini First Aid Rollup Kit includes adhesive bandages, dressing gauze, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, adhesive tape, emergency blanket, medical manual and more. Intended as a starter kit, the seven interior zipper pockets keep supplies separated and organized for easy access while providing ample room for additional survival gear and full customization. MOLLE straps and two buckles with a Velcro closure add to the kit’s versatility.

Even more compact, the 12 Survivors Mini Medic First Aid Kit features 61 pieces for critical medical care. The Mini Medic First Aid Kit contains 50 adhesive bandages, 1 non-woven adhesive bandage, 2 knuckle adhesive bandages, 2 butterfly adhesive bandages, 3 antiseptic wipes, 1 pair of tweezers, and 1 trifold pouch, all housed in a trifold nylon carrying case, making for a snug fit in backpack side pockets. Read more

VIKING SOLUTIONS Unveils the Super Hide Puller

Gone are the days of greasy fingers and excessive straining while removing the hide during game processing

Decatur, AL — Viking Solutions®, the industry leader in post-hunt trophy care accessories, introduces the Super Hide Puller, which was designed to make your post-hunt game care easier and faster than ever before. As simple as the task is, removing the hide from an animal for meat processing can be the most physically difficult part of the entire field-to-fork process. That’s no longer the case.

The new feature-rich design of the Super Hide Puller utilizes the tested and proven finger-puzzle principle of “the harder you pull, the tighter it grips” to make pulling the hide off most any animal much simpler and faster. Read more

Find the perfect fall hunting spot with MI DNR’s online mapping tool

With fall hunting seasons under way in Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters and outdoor enthusiasts that Mi-HUNT – a cutting-edge, web-based, interactive mapping application – can help them plan their next hunting or outdoor adventure. Mi-HUNT is available at

Mi-HUNT allows users to view and navigate through all public lands open to hunting and trapping in Michigan. It is easily accessible through the web browser on smartphones, tablets or computers and provides the most up-to-date information, customizable to fit each individual’s outdoor interests and trip-planning needs.

The interactive layers of Mi-HUNT allow the user to view:

  • All state game and wildlife areas, federal land, state forest land and private lands open to hunting and trapping.
  • Recently updated vegetation cover types on more than 7 million acres of state and federal land.
  • Topography of land.
  • Recreational facilities such as forest campgrounds, trails, boat launches and parking areas.
  • Aerial photography.
  • Street maps and directions.
  • Video tutorials are provided for assistance on navigating through Mi-HUNT’s key features. Read more

Online Video Shows Deer Hunting With Bucks On the Move

More daytime activity of bucks makes for great times in the deer stand! Watch this video where the bucks put on a show in the food plot with a few sparring matches and more whitetail behavior. Then see Adam help out the plan to lower the deer population when he arrows a doe. Stay tuned for advice to a Georgia landowner on improving his hunting property. Visit to see this video and more today! Read more

Youth waterfowl hunts at Michigan’s Wetland Wonders

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites waterfowlers to bring their young hunters to one of Michigan’s Wetland Wonders in October and November for a memorable hunting experience. Hunters can choose from several dates and locations for youth waterfowl hunts. Parties with at least one youth will be given priority in the draw at all seven Wetland Wonders:

Oct. 22 – Nayanquing Point Wildlife Area (afternoon hunt only) in Pinconning
Oct. 29 – Muskegon County Wastewater (morning and afternoon hunts) in Twin Lake
Oct. 29 – Fish Point State Wildlife Area (afternoon hunt only) in Unionville
Nov. 5 – Fennville Farm Unit of the Allegan State Game Area (morning hunt only) in Fennville
Nov. 5 – Shiawassee River State Game Area (afternoon hunt only) in St. Charles
Nov. 11 – Harsens Island Managed Hunt Area (afternoon hunt only) on Harsens Island
Nov. 13 – Pointe Mouillee State Game Area (morning hunt only) in Rockwood

Drawings for the youth morning hunts will occur at 5:30 a.m. and for the youth afternoon hunts at 11 a.m. (11:30 a.m. at Harsens Island). Read more

First 2016 Michigan elk season a success

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources yesterday announced that Michigan’s first elk hunt of 2016, which ended Oct. 3, had a hunter success rate of 85 percent. One hundred state hunters had 12 days to fill their elk license, with 30 any-elk and 70 antlerless-only licenses issued.”It’s hard to believe the first hunt period is in the books,” said DNR wildlife biologist Jennifer Kleitch. “Overall, we had good weather to hunt, no notable law issues and good success. The last few days were the wettest, which slowed efforts just a bit.”

The first hunt period of the elk season is staggered and open for a total of 12 days, from Aug. 30-Sept. 2, Sept. 16-19 and Sept. 30-Oct. 3. This early hunt period is open only in areas outside the core elk range, helping to control the distribution or locations of elk. The management goal for elk hunting is to control the number of elk and their locations and also the herd composition, or the male-to-female ratios. Hunt period 1 targets elk outside the location where the DNR wants the majority of the population to be. Read more

Michigan: Pheasant Hunting Season Kicks Off

With the opening of pheasant hunting season last week, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that there are a growing number of opportunities to take part in this treasured Michigan tradition.Pheasant hunting season is Oct. 10-31 in the Upper Peninsula in Menominee County and portions of Iron, Marquette, Dickinson and Delta counties; Oct. 20-Nov. 14 in the Lower Peninsula and Dec. 1-Jan. 1, 2017, in selected areas of Zone 3 in the southern Lower Peninsula. The bag limit is two male pheasants daily, with four in possession. A base license is required to hunt pheasants.

“A few years ago, Outdoor Life magazine rated Michigan’s Thumb in the top 10 places in the country to go pheasant hunting, which points to the fact that pheasant hunting is still alive and well in our state,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. “The DNR and our partners are making progress toward creating more quality pheasant hunting opportunities with the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative, a collaborative effort to revitalize Michigan pheasants.”

Stewart, who recently returned from attending the National Wild Pheasant meeting, explained that while pheasant populations have been in decline for a number of years, pheasants can be found in southern lower Michigan and in some areas of the Upper Peninsula. The best counties for pheasant hunting are in south-central to mid-Michigan and into the Thumb. There are some localized concentrations of birds elsewhere based on habitat availability. Stewart advises hunters to look for warm-season grasses, especially idled farm fields. Late-season hunters can have success in cattail and shrub lands adjoining picked agricultural fields. Read more

Poachers: Do you Feel Lucky?

By Glen Wunderlich

Most Michigan deer hunters are proud of the number of antler points on bucks they’ve taken.  Some call it bragging rights.  Hunters are well aware of what constitutes an antler point and always seem to stretch the tape to the one-inch mark to claim another one.  However, when that antlered buck is taken illegally, the “hunter” becomes a thief and when confronted by law enforcement, would rather not toot that horn.  And, as of February of this year, there’s good reason for being sheepish:   Penalties and fines have been increased substantially.

A 2015 research study by the Boone and Crockett Club found that 92.6 percent of sportsmen support higher fines for those convicted of poaching big-game animals, while 88 percent also support even higher fines for those convicted of poaching trophy-class, big-game animals.

Accordingly, Michigan’s lawmakers have passed legislation that has increased the penalty and fines for anyone caught poaching a buck. It was the first change to Michigan’s poaching law since 1990.

The new fines are based on the number of legal antler points and increase for larger racks. The restitution for illegally killing a deer remains $1,000, and jumps to $2,000 for antlered deer. In addition, poachers are now fined $500 per legal point for bucks that are between eight and 10 points, and $750 per legal point for bucks that have 11 points or more.

The word is getting out, as one cheater found out the hard way.

Josiah Killingbeck reported that an illegal deer case from 2015 was adjudicated in Lake County. The case involved a subject who had taken an 8-point buck during archery season of 2015 and purchased a kill tag for it the following day. CO Schaumburger assisted CO Killingbeck with interviewing the suspect in the Detroit area where a confession was obtained. The hunter was ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution and $435 in fines and costs. The hunter had his hunting license revoked for one year.

Here are a few more examples of clever cover-ups unraveled.

CO Brian Lasanen and CO Ethen Mapes responded to a RAP complaint of shots fired well after legal shooting hours.  As CO Lasanen and CO Mapes pulled up to the suspect’s house, they noticed four deer hanging in the barn.  CO Lasanen made contact with the suspect, and was advised his girlfriend had legally shot all four deer. CO Mapes made contact with the girlfriend and after a brief interview, it was determined she had not shot any deer this season, and her tags were at a friend’s house.  In light of the new information, CO Lasanen re-interviewed the suspect.  It was determined the suspect had shot all four deer.  The deer and the firearm used were seized.  Law enforcement action was taken.

Sgt. Joe Molnar was at a deer check station when a hunter came in to have his ten point buck checked which he had shot on opening morning. While talking with the hunter, it was determined that he shot the buck, and then purchased his hunting license. The hunter had only bought an antlerless deer license.  A citation was issued for taking a deer without a license.

One question remains for the poachers among us:  Are the rewards worth the risk?

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