Looking at live deer in pen vs. show winning mounts.

Submitted by Derek McMurry on 01/30/2003. ( DMcMurry@cinci.rr.com )

Just an interesting observation...

I just visited a friend of a friend on Tuesday that has 5 deer in a pen. (Just pets). I was observing very closely the individual eyes, nose, ears, etc. Paying close attention to detail, I noticed that one deer had very vivid eyes. She had distinctive lids and tear ducts, with a calm expression on her face. It reminded me of some of Joe Meders work. A different doe had absolutely no lids whatsoever. The buck had very deep tear ducts and lids that made me think of Mike Gillis' work. Nasal septums were just as variable between the deer also. Of course, the amount of white around the eyes was different like in all deer. My question to those of you with a few years of experience in taxidermy is: Do you look at each cape you prep and decide how detailed the facial features should look on THAT deer? Or, do you develope a signature style that is noticeable on the majority of your work? I've killed plenty of deer over the past 15 years, and have noticed a tremendous difference in facial detail on whitetails. It varied from early harvested deer to very late season, obviously.

Regardless of what the deer looked like live, I think it's great how you all have the ability to mimic real expressions...

Just curious.


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The deer

This response submitted by Rick Carter on 01/30/2003. ( WASCO )

Smart question,Derek! Whenever I do a competition piece I try to use the crease in the eyelid that was really present on the live deer. It is easier to find the proper position and draw some diagrams before the deer is skinned or tanned. Sometimes it is hard to determine where the crease actually was after the skin is tanned. Occaisionally I make eye castings using alginate before I mess with anything. On a commercial deer I use a generic look unless the customer has specified a particular expression. No matter what I do if I compare my mount to the deer in the research pen the mount fails miserably. All you can do is keep trying.

Real deer (to Rick Carter)

This response submitted by Derek McMurry on 01/30/2003. ( )

Thanks for your quick response. I have another comment on deer noses. I've seen several captive deer up close. I like it when my mounts have the "goose bumps" on the nose. However, out of approximately 80 deer, I've only seen 1 that had the bumpy nose. It belongs to a guy in Ansonia, Ohio. He sells urine. His dominant buck had the bumpy nose. The guy told me that his buck only has a nose like that when it gets colder and/or when he's trying to tend the does coming into estrus. He also stated that the buck licks his nose quite a bit to enhance the scent, and that's when it gets real bumpy. All of the other deer I've seen have rather smooth noses. I've also noticed that many deer are rather "plain" looking in the face. So, when taxidermists bring out detail that really may have not existed on the live animal, does this serve as a selling point? I love the detail, but I also know that sometimes the deer really didn't look as good as the taxidermist made it appear. (that's a compliment). What exactly do judges look for in a show? Such as a Masters Competition?


One more note on real deer

This response submitted by Derek McMurry on 01/30/2003. ( )

I forgot to ask one other question. The guy I mentioned earlier that sells deer urine thinks that the nose on a buck may get bumpier also when they scent check does, ie. flehmen (spelling)?

Any thoughts?


Some of my observations.

This response submitted by JOhn C on 01/30/2003. ( )

I aint in Ricks Class on my skills, but this is what I have seen.

A deer can open the tears ducts up where the end of your finger would have room to move around, or they can close them up where you almost cannot see them. Plus anywhere in between. No eye lids or eyelids they vary a lot, especially when something is going on.

Nose is very much like a horses as for the way they open and close. Septums can be seen or they can close them to where nothing can be seen.

The nose pad can be smooth like glass of satin lustered. The second that deer thinks it needs to smell something, the nose will have moisture appear and be bumpy, yes still have a satin finish under the wet bumps.

Even a yearling deer will show the same features. we recently put a mature buck down but I had a couple of hours to handle it. My good friend has a yearling in a pen I see the same things happening with it.

nose pads textures

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 01/31/2003. ( )

Some deer are textured, some deer arent, and theres levels in between. I see no difference as far as how textured they are with the season. They do appear more detailed when the nose is more wet, like when they are scenting, etc. Thats as far as Id want to suggest, though. This of course is just my opinion based on my observation, and nothing more. Im blessed with the opportunity to look at many live bucks and does to compare. DEREK, in taxidermy we are allowed to take what we feel are the best features of the animal and maybe accentuate them. Artistic license, we might say!

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