A hunter who hopes to obtain a brilliant trophy is spending a lot to come to a foreign hunting ground. He may just as well do the most important part as the textbook prescribes. That is, handling the actual skin, scull and horns correctly so that the trophy may come to its full potential.
The outfitter, professional hunter or the hunter himself cannot predetermine exactly what the quality of the animal that will be shot may turn out to be. And to some extent, one have to satisfy yourself that the first shot was the best possible one under the circumstances. BUT: from the moment that the first shot hits the target, each action taken shortly afterwards, is those that determine the quality of that specific trophy in a very real sense. And the hunting group have everything in the world to do with the actions that follow.
- If a second shot is a prerequisite for safety, the hunter should take care not to ruin the skin, scull or horns, for he most often not have the time to plan this shot.
- Finish all safety precautions, meaning making sure that the animal is dead and that the other animals of the herd doesn't pose a threat and then go through the safety drill of the rifle(s).
- Don't spend too much time, but to take a good photo in the hunting field may be a good idea, for it should be skinned as soon as possible when arriving at base camp. However, don't damage the skin by dragging it on the ground, not even a few metres.
- If it is a trophy hunt, leave one member of the hunting safari at the animal if you have reason to think that the hyenas, lions, jackal and other carnivores may arrive before the 4 x 4 crew. Usually you will have an hour or two to assemble your trophy before that kind of danger becomes very prominent, but remember that if it is a trophy hunt, you do want to skin it as soon as possible. The danger of putrefaction is a most important aspect. If the animal is left alone when the hunting party return to base camp, first MARK THE PLACE VERY CLEARLY with a bright cloth, or a stick that is scratched on the ground all the way to the vehicles pathway (not a good method late in the afternoon shortly before nightfall), or even with toilet paper!It may also be a good idea to mark the first little road that vehicles will be using with a very obvious marking, in order that all may know where to start the search.
- Normally a bush vehicle will be used to assemble the catch. The vehicle will either go into the bush up to the dead trophy animal, or as close as possible. The loading, transport and delivery of the animal usually will be the outfitter's efforts and equipment. If you haven't taken a photo yet, now may be your last chance.
- Use only the very best skinning knives, solid patterns and a hand-sharpener to avoid accidental cuts (mostly, it still takes place even with good knives!)
- Skin the animal within a short a time after the hunt as possible (no more than two hours if possible at all). If it is possible to skin it professionally right away in the bush, do it, but if may be much better to skin it in the cool room of the outfitter
- Don't drag the carcass over stones or even sand if possible, and be careful, when loading or unloading, not to damage it
- Don't expose the carcass to hard sunlight after it is taken down. Try to carry it into the shade
- Skin the animal preferably in a cool room where flies can't enter
- Be especially careful with the skin of antelope like the impala, bushbuck, nyala, eland, kudu and gemsbuck, as they may be damaged very easily
- Don't leave any meat or fat on the skin and NEVER put an undried skin in a plastic bag
- Blood and sand or dust should be washed off the skin by thorough care
- Let the skin dry in a cold wind for some time to dry it out somewhat before it is salted
- Carnivores and the zebra have a lot of fat on their skins, particularly at the mane area. This may take time, but it have to be cleaned thoroughly
Your outfitter and his staff are used to handle the whole process of field preparation, skinning, salting and the storage of trophies. They know that the skin mustn't be stained at all. Very few parts of the animal will be wasted. The meat will be handled with care and in good hygienic fashion. If the hunter is willing, some of the tasty cuts of most (but not all) animals may be served as a treat or part of a meal at base camp. It may be necessary to enquire whether the handling and preparation of trophies are included in the trophy fees or not. (Field preparation is included in your daily rate when hunting with Marvel Africa Safaris)