What is taxidermy?
The art of taxidermy is a method of reproducing a life-like, 3D representation of an animal so that it can be displayed indefinitely. It is generally associated with private trophy rooms of hunters, and it is often also used as an educational tool in wildlife centers, zoos, museums, etc. Mounts are also found frequently in hunting lodges, hotels, and even restaurants.
The word “taxidermy” comes from two ancient Greek words: taxis, which means movement; and derma, which means the movement of skin.
Are the eyes real?
The eyes sed are made from glass. They are very life-like and come in hundreds of species-types.
What did you do with the brains?
The only part of the head that is actually used is the top of the skull plate. The rest is discarded. The skin is stretched over a polyurethane foam form (like a mannequin). Many years ago, taxidermists used straw bound to wood as the inner core of a mount.
Can you mount my dog or cat?
I personally do not mount pets. There are some companies that will freeze-dry pets.
How long does it take to complete a mount?
Here is the basic process, start-to-finish:
- Meet / greet the customer, show samples of your work, talk about what they want for their trophy.
- Skin out the head, flesh, & prep the cape prior to the drying process.
- Salt & dry the skin.
- Ship the dry skin to the tanner. This can take several months to get back.
- Prep the skin when it returns from the tanner.
- Prep the form, making any modifications to ensure a good fit. Attach the antlers or horns to the form.
- Apply clay-work to the form (detail), and apply glue.
- Stretch skin over the glue-covered form, sew up al the seams, and then adjust the skin.
- Let dry for two weeks.
- Perform final head finishing and paint, do final grooming.
- WOW. DONE. Call the customer!
It all adds up to approximately 20 hours of total time–longer for custom mounts, and life-size work.
What are the different ways I can have my trophy mounted?
Shoulder mounts - from the shoulder up, to include the entire head with horns attached:
- Upright- this can be a left turn, right turn, or straight forward. The turns are defined from behind the animal, not facing it.
- Sneak - the neck of the animal is stretched out forward and down, as if the animal is “sneaking” through the brush.
- Semi-sneak - as above, but less severe.
Life size - this is the entire animal. There is almost always some form of habitat created as the base.
Half life size - this is the front half of the animal, mounted on the wall, but with the front feet placed on a habitat base.
Pedestal mount - this is a more artistic presentation which incorporates artistic habitat displays and a (generally) wooden base in their composition. These are free-standing mounts and are meant to be viewed from 360 degrees.
Wall pedestal - this is also a bit more artistic than a traditional shoulder mount. It requires the use of the skin further down the shoulder, and the animal is presented “away” from the wall, and turned. The viewer sees the animal at more of an angle.
Horn plaque - this is just the horns with the skull plate covered with a paper mache material, then covered in leather or suede and trimmed with thin strips of braided leather or suede.
European mount - this is the skull only - boiled and all meat removed. It is then cleaned and bleached and is completely white except for the horns / antlers. Sometimes it is mounted on a wooden plaque but more commonly is just hung on the wall as is. Buffalo skulls are the most familiar to people.