Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

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Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

By D. Price

 

So many times I am asked or either see posted on the internet, how do you know when your deer cape is shaved thin enough? This is an important question and not an easy one to answer with words. I often see or hear someone answer it with “When it turns blue that is thin enough.”

In this article I’m going to attempt to answer this question with less words and more photos. To start with the cape is just not going to suddenly go “POOF” and turn blue like a Smurf. This “Blue” answer can often confuse a newbie to the industry trying to find their way. So let me explain it a little differently.

To start with, the bluish color people often refer to is nothing more than the dark hair follicles beginning to show through the white skin as it gets thinner therefore causing a blue tint to the skin itself.

Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

Now this does not hold true for the entire cape. There are several exceptions, one being all the hair on a whitetail is never all dark such as the throat patch, arm pit areas, belly areas and never depend on the blue color on an albino or piebald cape because you will have thin bald spots all over it.

Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

Another area to watch out for is if there was deep bruising of the deer around bullet wounds, drag marks or other injuries.

Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

The staining of the blood in the skin could penetrate as far as the outer layers of the dermis so there will be no dark follicles showing through a white skin.

Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

I have seen many damages in these areas because of this very reason. Here is an example of a bruised area most likely from falling after being shot.

Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

Okay, “feel” is always the best way to make sure you have a properly thinned and evenly shaved cape, “sight” is second on the list.

The first thing you need to get a properly thinned cape is a clean pickled skin.

Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

Make sure to completely flesh and wash the cape before adding to your pickle.

Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

You want to remove as much of the meat and body fluids as possible. This will leave you with a cleaner skin to work with as well as a cleaner pickle. This will keep your fleshing machine cutting smoother if there is no trash there to damage the cutting edge.

Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

Once the cape has been in the pickle long enough to penetrate the skin it is time to start the thinning process.

Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

As you are shaving you should constantly be feeling or pinching the skin checking the thickness as you go, making sure everything is nice and even, especially on the neck and shoulder areas. If you have seen my “Mastering the Fleshing Machine A-Z Plus” online video series you will notice me constantly pinching the skin for this very reason.

In the brisket and arm pit region of the skin it can be tricky, many capes need no thinning at all in these areas if they were properly fleshed at the start.

Once you get to the face it is more of a seeing what you are doing in cleaning up the nose, chin, muzzle and around the eyes.

Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

The forehead and around the ear butts is going to be other “feel” areas. Behind the ear which is actually the top and back of the head is usually a fairly thick area that needs extra attention.

Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

The forehead may appear thicker than it really is due to the extremely course thick hair in this area, so tread lightly here.

Whitetail Cape Shaving 101
Whitetail Cape Shaving 101

I hope this explanation along with the photos helps to explain this often asked question, “How do you know when your whitetail capes are thinned enough?”

As always, thanks for reading and you can reach me at d.price@outbacktaxidermy.net or 919 562 4280

 

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D.Price

D. Price is owner and operator of Outback Taxidermy since 1993, a full time taxidermy studio in Youngsville, North Carolina. Over his many years of experience, dating back to 1986 as an apprentice at Carolina Fur Dressing Co. in Raleigh, North Carolina, D. has developed unique skills as well as techniques that he uses in his every day taxidermy projects.
He specializes in mammal taxidermy, and with his 18 years of experience in the fur dressing side of the industry, he is well versed in the field of hair on tanning as well as skin preparation.

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