Here of late I have been experiencing a problem mounting African plains game. This occurrs mostly with Kudu and Eland. I mount roughly 100 game heads from Africa every year. Now all of a sudden I'm running into this damnable problem. It goes like this. When pulling the hide up and around the horns...and with the ears in their proper position...I seem to have this ungodly space around the horns. In other words the hide will not come up around the base of the horns. There is usually this large gap between the hide and horn from above the eye and on around the back of the horn. I also have always had trouble with the ear butts on Cape Buffalo...there is always to much skin...and I usually have to many wrinkles there. This is driving me crazy. Is it me or are the skinners cutting to much off or what? This is very frustrating...and it is hard to patch this area and make it look good. If someone can help with this...when I go to Alaska next summer...I'll send you a smoked salmon fillet or two.
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At times African animals can really test your patience. I would say it is entirely possible that the skinners cut a little too much hide
from around the horn when they were skinning. If you are running into this all the time you may want to double check the positioning of the skull plate onto the manikan. It is very easy to place the skull plate to far back or to high. This would give you those problems. It could snow ball into other problems as you know,distorting eyes,ears ect.
As far as the ear butts on Cape Buffalo, these large animals have very thick hide and when shaved thin gives all kinds of leather to work with,in this case way to much.I try to "inch forward" the hide away from the ear butt area. Not taking away all the wrinkles of coarse but not leaving to many either.(check references)Sometimes pushing the hide together just to the point were it wants to start to wrinkle,then stop and let it set for awhile or overnight,I like to use a good coat of Dextrin hide paste cut with about 1/3 Elmers glue.This usually works for me. Good Luck!
A lot of times mounting African heads, I will cut the form flush with the eye orbital, then cut the skull plate at the same location. Double check this with the skin on the form, and horn and skull plate placed into position.
This will allow you to see if the skin may be cut short.
As for the wrinkles, try working them out with a grooved rolling tool used for laying out fiberglass cloth and resin.
As for the wrinkles near the ears, look at some good pictures, you will note there are quite a few in this area, so you may not be far off in your mammal restoration.
What works for me is measuring the amount of skin I have to work with in that area when the skin is rehydrated to measure for the form and setting the horns accordingly this should take the guess work out of the job, also black epoxy sculpt works well for filling any remaining problem areas.
I cant explain the recent problem, but I can say that that area around the horn is sort of like a cuticle, and not everyone cuts it in the same place when skinning, but it does need to be rebuilt. Why this is a problem all of a sudden, Im not sure. I HAVE seen that the capes have been pretty crappy lately. Love that smoked salmon, though...
You will find in your african skins that they may indeed have cut the skin around the base of the horn short, but also through my reaserch of the plians game and personally skining them out you will find on some species that there is a soft skin at the base of the horn that looks like horn but is actualy just skin. This could be the cause of part of your problem the fix is; test fit your skin, and then if need be build up the base of the horn the same way you rebuild the boss on a buff. or wildebeast. this should help you with your problem. Remember to make sure that the horns are in the proper position first ! Look at good Ref. for this!
Your problem with shrinkage around the base is common.
the horns simply shrink in their boiling and then drying process.
This is less evident in one that has been slipped from the cores
by only soaking or sweating it off. Just cut a dart out at the
lowest place and sew it. It will fit just fine most of the time.
You may have to rebuild some horn, but not much.
You just have to adjust away the wrinkles in your skins. You can nip & tuck
in a wrinkle or two to get rid of some of it.Use a small roller to
help push a few down.