It is a common question any time a hunter shoots a whitetail for the wall: What are the main features of the best deer head mounts? After all, the best deer head mounts are the ones you will be looking at for the rest of your years. The not-so-great ones are commonly disbanded to the basement, garage workshop ore (gasp) attic.
Some of the best advice we have seen on this topic is included in the below video by Josh Lengacher of Lengacher’s Taxidermy of Indiana. Josh and his dad own and operate an award-winning business, and offer some really solid advice in this video.
Whether it’s your first or 50th whitetail to be mounted (and we would like to talk to you if you’ve shot 50 bucks for the wall!), look at the work of your prospective taxidermist, and see if their work stands up to these high-quality standards:
1. TANNED HIDE
Ask any reputable taxidermist, and the first thing they’ll tell you is that you should have the deer’s cape tanned, not “pickled,” which was the common practice of earlier taxidermy times. Most modern taxidermists send their hides out to be tanned. Some of the higher-end shops tan them themselves. In the end, the quality of the tanning process will dictate how good (or bad) your deer head mount will be, especially over the test of time.
2. CLEAN MOUTH LINES
There should be no gaps in the mouth. No “smiling” deer. The lines should be clean, and the lips tucked inward to create a nice, straight line. The bottom lip should be even an linear.
3. BLENDED NOSE COLORS
The common tactic of old was to use black shoe polish to add contrast to the deer’s schnaz. Over time, this sloppy tactic will break down and reveal a poor taxidermy job. Today’s taxidermists are all about details. If you look at a real deer’s nose, you will see that it starts out as black at the top and fades ever so slightly to a gray color where the nose meets the lips. The best deer head mounts will incorporate these fine details.
4. TIGHT TEAR DUCTS
This is a telltale sign that separates the best deer head mounts from the average to poor ones. The tear ducts should be tight, closed and clean to the deer’s eyes. This is not an easy accomplishment for a taxidermist. It requires painstaking work to get them right. Poor mounts will have gaps, or filler material (putty) dabbed into the open gaps. Over time, those gaps will widen and make the deer mount appear to have “bug eyes.”
5. NEAT ANTLERS BASES
This is another fine detail that separates the best deer head mounts from the bad ones. Antler bases should include no gaps, and, in fact, you shouldn’t even be able to tell that the antlers were once removed from the head. The hair should join the antler bases with no signs of gaps whatsoever.
6. CONTOURED EARS
Look for fine details that would show the ear muscles. This will depend on how the ears are positioned, but there should be distinct lines. Most important, the outside of the ears should not appear shaggy. They should feature crisp, clean lines. You should be able to run your finger along the edge of the ears and feel a solid, clean line all the way around them. This is accomplished (again) through painstaking work on the taxidermist’s part. The ears must be completely fleshed out and then re-fit into a tight form. The inside of the ears should be a light pink color. This is added as finish detail work by the taxidermist.
To view these tips in full action, check out Josh’s video here:
To contact Josh, click here.
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