Taxidermy...what to look for

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Taxidermy...what to look for

Postby fireman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:18 am

Here are some photos to give you guys an idea on what to look for in a quality mount. I will break it down into several sections using photos as reference.

Image

THE ANTLERS......
Take a look at this photo....the antlers are mounted correctly. The general rule of thumb is...the start of the mainbeams are parallel to the top of the nose. Take a look at the green line...it runs parallel to the top of the face and lines up with the first 3 or 4 inches of the mainbeam on this mount.

I've been doing taxidermy since 2003 and I've only seen a small handful of deer where this rule didn't apply. In those cases, the rack tilted forward on the deer a bit. I normally find it with non-typical racks.

Now look at the red line. If you run a straight line from the center of the nostril through the center of the eye, there should be only a 1/8" to 1/4" gap between the "red line" and the base of the antler. Again, this doesn't always hold true...but is dead on with almost every deer I mount.

THE EARS......
I will touch on the ears a bit since this photo is a good example. On this mount, a few things stand out to me that are a little off. First of all, the the ear butt is a little too big. The ear butt should be no wider than the widest part of the ear. Also, the ear is pushed up a little too close the the base of the antler. You should only have about a small finger's width between the ear and the antler.

The most common mistake is the ears way too low.....about a three finger gap making it look lime dumbo coming in for a landing.

Look at the overall shape of these ears....very nice, crisp edges. Very important!!! If the taxidermist doesn't take his time to "turn" the ears all of the way out to the edges....they will curl and look wavy when the dry.

One more feature that is needed for correct anatomy is a "groove" in the center of the ear butt. In this picture you can see a change in hair pattern and color (right in the center of the butt). There is a muscle separation there and the taxidermist should recreate it when forming the ears.

I'll talk about paint later..........to be continued
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Re: Taxidermy...what to look for

Postby fireman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:37 am

Image

More on the rack......

When looking from the front, you can see that the antlers are centered correctly on this deer. When I secure the rack to the form, I make sure that the bases are symmetrical by using the sides of the face for reference.

The next step is to make sure the antlers are level on the deer. This can get tricky because a symmetrical rack isn't as symmetrical as you think. I like to line up the edge of the skull cap with the edge of the form and adjust from there. If a rack appears crooked on the live deer, it will look crooked on the mount if positioned exactly the same. I use the anatomy of the skull cap to line things up and pretty much leave it at that unless the rack looks "off".

I've secured antlers, stepped back and thought they looked crooked (maybe the tips of the mainbeams are not symmetrical). I may adjust a bit according to the tips....but then the brows look off. I adjust to the brows and then maybe the whole thing looks tilted. This is why is basically stick to the anatomy of the skull cap in relationship to the form and only make slight adjustments from there.....adjustments that make it look level.

Take a look at some of your mounts and compare sides. I've mounted deer where one antler came straight out to the side then up...while the other side came out and a 45 and then up. Another thing that will make a rack look crooked is tine length. If I mount a deer that has tines on one side shorter than those on the other side, it will look crooked....BUT IT ISN'T Ya' following me?

Now on to the ears again.....these ears are also very crisp but one is mounted a bit higher than the other. Not a deal breaker, but the symmetry is off a bit. If you want to go for the look where the ears are in different positions (maybe one forward and one back) make sure they are quite a bit different on the mount. Having one ear just slightly different in orientation to the other will just make them look off (non-symmetrical)

I've also drawn two green lines to highlight the area that a lot of hacksidermists mess up. These eyes are not only formed correctly, but they are level to each other and the same size. A lot of bad mounts I see will have one eyelid bigger than the other....one eye lower or higher than the other....and a sunken in "dead" look (caused by using too much clay.

More on the eyes later..........
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Re: Taxidermy...what to look for

Postby fireman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:48 am

The eyes...........

These two pictures pretty much say it all................
Image
Image

This is how an eye should look...sort of an almond shape. NOT ROUND!!!!
The top/front corner of the eye should be the highest point as far as shape goes...followed by a gently slope down. Another important feature is the lashes...they should angle down at a 45 (slightly off in the top photo)

Also note the membrane in the front corner of the eye. Any taxidermist worth a hoot will put this in during the finishing stages of a mount.

You can't see much of the tear ducts in these photos...but they should be tucked in and look "clean" and uniform.

As far as paint goes.....there are lots of different options for painting the eyes and many are good. The most important thing is that the eyes don't look "painted"...the makeup look. A light dusting of color with a good blend is all that is needed.
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Re: Taxidermy...what to look for

Postby fireman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:20 am

THE NOSE.....

Image

Here is a great picture of what a quality nose should look like. First off....the nostrils are symmetrical and the skin is in the proper position. There is white hair on the inside of the nose pad as it transitions into the nostril (see the white hair at the 2 o'clock position on the deer's right nostril?) You should see some of that white hair when looking at a mount straight on...but it should be hidden when you stick your index finger in the nostril. In other words...no white hair should be outside of the nostril...the only white hair would be on the side..between the nose pad and the brown patch of hair.

Next is the pad itself. See all of those bumps? They are proper deer anatomy. Many mounts our there are flat with no detail at all. Now look at the color between the bumps. A nose should have a fleshy tone at the bottom and transition from gray to black as you work your way up. The bumps should stand out with the color seen in between them. (THIS IS A KILLER EXAMPLE!!!)

Now look at the bottom lip. The width of the exposed lip should be equal to the width of the bottom of the nose pad...no more, no less (for a closed mouth mount) I see lots of mounts where you can see lip halfway back to the rear corner of the mouth. You should only see lip on the sides if it is an open mouth mount. Mounts that have too much lip showing look like they are smiling!!! :)

All you should see on the side of the mouth is hair....and if tucked into the form correctly, there should be no cowlick at the back corner of the mouth. It is also very important for the taxidermist to brush and groom the hair when the mount is still wet....so the mount doesn't end up with bed-head!!!

Also, take a close look at the mount. There should be several whiskers around the mouth and sides of the nose....and there might be longs whiskers coming from the bottom of the chin (about halfway back) and also the sides of the rear jaw area. Sometimes these are broken off in the wild or don't survive the tanning process.

FYI....I'M NOT SPELL CHECKING THIS SO IGNORE ANY ERRORS.

Forgot one thing....the nostrils. They need to be shaped by the taxidermist. If they put the detail into the mold, they would never be able to remove the form without damaging the form. I've see mounts where the taxidermist didn't remove any material to shape the nostrils.....and I've also see mounts (cough cough..new's mount..cough cough) where they took out way too much material.

There should be a smooth transition of hair as it goes into the nostril and the finished nostril will have a flesh tone to it that transitions to a warm brown (from inside out)
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Re: Taxidermy...what to look for

Postby fireman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:45 am

Image

The next thing would be hide alignment. There isn't much to this...but guys screw it up. When you look at your mount...the throat patch and the brisket should be centered, and the "armpits" should only have "armpit" hair in them" The "armpit" hair is much lighter...almost white. Look at the photo....the green lines represent the outside edges of the pits. There should not be any "pit" hair outside this line.

I will be the first to tell you that this isn't possible all of the time so a little hair outside the lines is acceptable IMO. Some mounts just don't want to line up in this area 100%. I've seen some mounts where there is several inches of pit hair creeping up the side of the mount.

In the above photo...there maybe just a touch of hair creeping out of the pit on the deer's left side. Not a deal breaker to me....not even close. The brisket is crooked though....it creeps to the left at the top.

One more thing that stands out in this particular photo is the overall "look" of the hide. When you property mount a deer....it is like putting long socks on if you are wearing shorts. If you are wearing pants....you just pull your socks up tight. If you do this with the hide, it will look flat and lifeless like in this mount.

If you are cool like Wi-Doe....after you pull your socks up tight while wearing shorts....you will then slide them back down in such a way where they are bunch up slightly around your ankles.

What this does is allows the hair to stand up more...not lay flat like in the photo. A loose hide on the form will also prevent the hair from doing crazy things plus help eliminate the loss of detail in the mount as it dries.

Now....while pushing the hide back forward, care has to be taken so the hide doesn't roll over onto itself. If this happens, streaks of color will appear in the mount and/or the hair will stand up. The photo has both. See the bright white line running through the top of the throat patch? The hair is bunched up there. The skin should have been taxi'd a bit more there.

Now look at the deer's left side down near the armpit....there is basically a tuft of hair starting at the top of the pit and continuing up the side. Again, hair is bunched up and needed to be taxi'd.

If you look at an individual hair on a deer....the majority of it is gray with the browns and blacks being near the tip. Any stretching, bunch, or overlap of the hide will create what I call tiger stripes in the mount. The only time I find this somewhat acceptable is when the mount has a strong turn.....because the skin would normally bunch up in this position.

Once the hide is positioned properly, good grooming is a must to get the hair going in the right direction. The hair should be fluffy with no brush marks in it.
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Re: Taxidermy...what to look for

Postby fireman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:15 pm

That should pretty much cover it.....let me know if you have any questions.
With New's permission....I will highlight everything that is wrong with his mount.
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Re: Taxidermy...what to look for

Postby Newarcher on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:41 pm

I'm almost afraid to say it......squinting and turning my head away from the action as I say with only one part of one eye turned towards the action..... go ahead! :D

I know it's bad, very very bad. But I had no idea of the two worlds of taxidermy. :D I knew that some did better jobs than others but I assumed there were minimum standards. As we all see, there are not! :D

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Re: Taxidermy...what to look for

Postby fireman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:47 pm

There is some real crap out there.....and a lot of customers don't know it. It kills me to know that putting a crap mount up against mine and many wouldn't recognize the difference. I'm not stroking myself....but I feel I do way better than average....probably better than I give myself credit for.

I actually had a customer one time complain about the texture on the nose.....he said it looked like the surface of a basketball :roll:

If you are paying $300ish for a deer mount......BE VERY AFRAID!!!!
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Re: Taxidermy...what to look for

Postby Newarcher on Sat Jun 11, 2011 7:31 pm

As the old saying goes, it ain't bragging if you can do it! :D

I don't mind someone brag about their work, especially when they can back it up....that's not braggado that's honesty. If some of these people had a little pride in their work, well..... I wish I would have sent it to you or had someone who is a real pro do it.

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You probably heard I ain't in the letting deer walk business....I'm in the button buck killing business and cousin, business is a boomin.
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Re: Taxidermy...what to look for

Postby fireman on Sun Jun 12, 2011 7:48 am

If it makes you feel any better......I've seen a lot worse!!!!!
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