Good taxidermy begins with good field care. Without a good specimen, there are problems before the work even begins. The skin begins to decay immediately upon death, so take care of your specimen as soon as possible. Keeping it cold slows this breakdown; freezing stops it. Always freeze specimens sealed in an airtight plastic bag to avoid damage by freezer burn.
Once landed, don't allow a fish to scar itself or tear it's fins by thrashing. Wrap it in a wet cloth or paper towels. Never use newspaper, as the ink can be absorbed by the skin. To store, seal wet, cloth-wrapped fish in double plastic bags and lie as flatly as possible in the freezer.
Wipe off blood, smooth feathers and seal in a plastic bag and freeze whole as soon as possible. Birds left out all day in fall weather may begin to slip and lose feathers. Inspect potential mounts carefully. Birds with excessive pinfeathers and badly shot up often make poor mounts. When in doubt, bring the bird to a taxidermist before it is frozen so they can check it.
Do not slit the ears, slash the throat, drag or hang by the neck!
Avoid getting skin wet or hanging for an extended period of time. Many taxidermists prefer to cape (skin head and shoulders) themselves. Cut the hide all the way around behind the front legs and halfway down the forearms, being especially careful to cut along the back of the legs, NOT inside. Skin up to the head and then cut off carcass, keeping the hide attached to the head. Deliver to the taxidermist, or if impossible, seal in a plastic garbage bag and freeze. Note: Tines puncture bags easily, allowing air to cause rapid freezer burn around the ears, eyes, nose and lips. Take it to a taxidermist as soon as possible after freezing.