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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Preparing skulls for shoulder mounts

Though out our tutorials, we have made reference to skull placement and correct alignment.  Back in the 70's and 80's cutting the throat was a common occurrence.  As taxidermist we spend endless hours trying to educate the hunter in proper field care.  Nothing worked at all.  We had photos and descriptions of proper skinning techniques but it fell on deaf ears.  It was not until we started charging for the extra work and time,  that things began to change.

We are now at another cross road.  Since the finding of  Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD);  we now have uneducated people in the field cutting skulls and skinning trophies with the worst results in handling that I have ever seen in 36 years of being in business.  So you might ask; how can this be turned around.  There is only one way to get the hunter to want to stop and learn proper field care.  We will now begin to charge for the extra work it takes to fix these problems.  This will change the action and  attitude of the industry.  In the following photos, notice how skulls are cut and how they relate to the mannikin.  Most Taxidermists and guys doing taxidermy (and there is a difference) do not pay enough attention to the usage of skull measurements and placement.
Here is an example of a full time taxidermist who has cut this skull.  Our client harvested this Mule Deer in Colorado.  He took it to a local taxidermy shop where he found this full time professional taxidermist.  I find it hard to believe that this taxidermist cuts his own skulls in this manner.  This would make his job so hard to do, and do correctly.  Only thing I can say is that the taxidermist was mad that the hunter was taking his trophy back home to have mounted in his home state.  This is just an example of poor handling at its finest.

Here is what a skull cut in this manner gives you.  There is no skull to reference to the angle of the antlers.  Eye sockets are missing, so getting the correct skull width is also not an option. Attaching this skull to the mannikin is another problem.  As you see, skulls cut in this manner makes no sense.  This would be like trying to build a house on one prier block.  This is very unstable and everything is a guess.    

Notice here how the skull has been cut.  I have the bridge of the nose in tack to align up with the slope of the nose on the mannikin.  This will set the antlers at the correct angle.  There is no guessing here.  Next;  notice I have the eye sockets in place on the skull.  This is going to give me the correct width.

 The width of the skull is most important measurement to have when mounting any big game.  The eye to nose;  nose to the back of the head and neck measurement are second to skull width.  Most all mannikins are to wide in the head.  I am estimating over 95 %.  Believe it or not, this is the one measurement that most  taxidermist do not pay attention to. This limits there ability to produce high end quality mounts.  This will open the door for a new taxidermist to move in town and take over an area.  With this knowledge, he will be more accurate.  Now his prices can also be 30% higher, and he will still take the majority of the work.

 Here are the way skulls come from Africa.  Do you ever wonder why they send the whole skull.  This is to get all the measurements need to perform the job.  The width of the skull is there, along with length, depth and shape. This is very important on African game.  Well mounted African game will bring in the good clients.
Notice here, everything lines up.  There is no guessing.  We will end up with a natural looking deer.  Perfect these techniques and you will surpass your competition.  These techniques also bring in more profit and build a better client base.

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