How Your Game Head Trophy is Made



Wood WoolElkformPeople are always asking me what do you do to mount a Deer or Elk, so I guess I'll give you a quick how-it's-done page. These are NOT instructions on how to mount an animal. This is only general information on how I do it. Others may do it differently.

In taxidermy we try to recreate a sculpture of a living animal and we try to do it for a reasonable price. In the old days, the taxidermist would skin the animal and boil down the skull. He or she would then mount the skull on a piece of wood and wrap the wood with Wood Wool, also known as excelsior. Wood wool is small round shavings of wood that sort of look like wool, hence, the name Wood Wool. You wrap and squeeze the Wood Wool into shape and wrap twine around it. Then Paper Mache was used to cover everything. If you look at this drawing by one of the early masters, Leon Pray, you will see how it was done. For tanning they used arsenical paste, which I have to admit, worked great. Trouble was, it also tanned taxidermists.

Foam Head FormsAs you might guess, this was VERY time consuming. Now we have foam forms. These forms come in hundreds, maybe thousands of shapes and sizes. People who are true and talented sculptors now make these forms. Which is a good thing because I am no sculptor !

EyesThese foam forms are cheap and good. They have really ushered in a golden age of taxidermy. We also have excellent glass eyes This has helped keep the cost of a nice Game Head Trophy in the affordable range. While the price of a Game Head Mount will never be cheap due to the many hours of detailed, hand work involved, it is still reasonable thanks to these great, low priced forms.

Basically, the drill is this. You take the raw skin, (Also called a "Green" skin), tan it, buy a form and glass eyes and then proceed with the mounting. I mount the form to stand I made, and then mount the horns. before I skin a Deer, or Elk or Moose I measure the distance from each horn tip, both right and left, to the end of the nose. I also measure from the base of the horns to the tip of the nose. These measurements allow me to position the horns correctly on the foam form. The form has a wood plate cast into the head. I drill holes in the skull cap and screw it to the form with big screws. I then fill in all the voids with Paper Mache.

I then take the skin and mount it on the form, holding it in position with several small pins. I can then sew up the back of the neck. It looks very easy but there is quite bit of preparation work I have to do to the skin before I sew it up. I have to put in the ear liners, shave the skin around the lips, eyes, and nostrils, sew up any bullet (or any other !) holes. Sometimes, there is quite a lot of skin damage from fighting or from customers dragging their precious trophies out of the woods. It all has to be fixed !

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Attach Horns
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Fill in the voids
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Put on the skin
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Sew up the back

After the dermy (skin) is sewn on I taxi it (move it) into the right position on the form. Then we put clay in the nose, pin everything that needs to be pinned and generally move everything to where it should be. Tomorrow, we'll come back and check everything again and again to make sure everything dries in position.

After the mount is dry, we come back in and do the finishing work and that will be the next page I work on !

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Taxi that dermy !
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Now let it dry.

Now here is what I consider the most important part of this page. While many people have, indeed, asked about how you make a Game Head Mount, the only real reason I wrote this page is to add more "Content" to my site. The search engines just love real, honest to goodness "Content". They say they'll rank you higher if you have it... maybe... hopefully. So here it is "Content" ! Now I will rank nice and high and lots of people will now come and buy a Beautiful Bear Skin Rug from me ! Right ?


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