I have a client that brought in a huge black bear. It was 512lbs live weight on a certified scale. It measures(tanned hide) 6 1/4" Nose-eye, 31 neck at the ears, 68 around the belly and 84" nose to tail. This thing is really a smoker. When we were picking forms, the client picked a form/pose that (of course) isnt available in his size. I looked up various companies and found a grizzly form that is 7 1/4"x31x68x82 in the same pose(woohoo)requested by the client. My question, should I do the easy thing and buy the grizzly form, shorten the muzzle and call it good or buy the smaller black bear form, cut and expand to fit? The grizzly form is $810.00 but would save hours of cutting and altering. Other than the muzzle and some work on the "hump", is there any other downsides to this proposition?
Return to Lifesize Mammal Taxidermy Category Menu
You could buy the grizzly form and a black bear change-out head.
Had the same problem a few years back. The Rayline form for the grizzly fit perfectly but I needed the black bear face. I got the neck form for the black and then altered the grizzly form for a perfect fit.
Go with the griz form. The muzzle of a griz dishes more than a black bear. so a change out head would be a plus. The basic structure of a griz is close to a black. It seem that really big black bear, are usually big ole flappy guys. so once the hump in the withers is worked down. You will come out with a form that fits, and looks good. occasionally the neck may need a bit of shortening. Depending on the pose. Have fun.
I've mounted 3 bears about this size and have used McKenzie's LBR-171 and 177.These are the largest black bear forms on the market(76X61 1/2" and 78 1/2"x62") and were sculpted off measurements for a 550 lb. bear.They worked really well except in all cases I had to make the heads considerably bigger.The problem is no one makes a changeout head this size,at least closed mouth.McKenzie does have an open mouth "Cast Lip" head that is just the right size,6" NTE,10 1'2" wide.I find that smaller grizzlies and blacks interchange easier.An 84" grizzly will have longer legs than a monster black bear.When black bears get in this size class,their body shape gets way stubby,different than smaller black bears.You can look at photos of these black bear forms and compare them to photos of the grizzly form and see what I mean.I measure shoulder height from the wrist pad to top of shoulder.A black bear this size will be about 34".Measure your skin if you don't believe me.A Rayline 82" grizzly is 40" for the same measurements.Remember,this measurement is from wrist pad to top of shoulder,doesn't include wrist and foot.Remember also,when you lengthen the head and you will have to,you are getting way closer to your correct length.2 of the bears I mounted went right on this form after radically expanding the head(and it's a pain).The 3rd was the AK State record and is #4 in BC.It ended up 6 1/2"x83"x70".All I had to do was split and widen the body and make the bigger head.The legs etc.fit great.I really wish they made that large head in a closed mouth.I've asked for one but it hasn't happened yet.Right now,the "cast lip" head would be easiest.There are very few bears killed anywhere that this form will be too small for.I have a book full of measuerment chats taken from these and other bears plus many of the forms we are talking about.I use them to help me pick forms in situations like yours.As I said,changing from black to grizzly works but not nearly as well when you get over 65" to 70" in length.The difference in leg lengths starts to be problematic at that point.Shape too.Good luck with it.Heck of a bear for sure.
I put one together a few years ago on the 171 and it was 467 dressed and if fit like a glove, except for the head. As you mentioned it was too narrow and I ended up splitting it from the back to widen it up a bit. Unfortunately this client wants the bear "climbing down", with the hind legs higher than the front, head turned to left to fit in a staircase. Rayline has the exact form in the grizzly, but as you metioned, the legs look longer/thnner than those "fat bottomed girl" looking black bears. Im afraid that I would end up with a bunch of extra skin in the groin area. The bear is medium-well furred, but certainly not have the long hair of a late season animal. He wanted a closed mouth, but I saw the relaxed lip and that's what were going with, but I still on the fence as to what to do. $800 for a griz form that "might" fit. or hours of cutting and pasting the 171 to get the pose right....and its too late for carcass casting!
I wondered about your pose.That 171 might be a pain to change to downhill.Those fat,cone-shaped rear legs be harder to angle forward than the normal shaped ones.Much as I hate to pay grizzly form prices to mount a black bear,I think in this situation I'd do it.I don't see a Rayline form downhill,but there are a couple Precision ones.I assume that's what you are talking about.If the upper and lower legs need shortening I take the entire amount out at the knee(saves 1 cut),then shape the knee back in.The pain of chopping legs is re-inforcing after the cut.In recent years I've been using a 10 lb. density foam from Hide and Beak Supply,hollow each half,make a pour hole,tack together with 6" screws and pour.This stuff is so hard and dense,I don't need reinforcing on most cats and bears.Thinner legs like deer and sheep-yes.This saves a lot of time.After that I would check the rear thigh-leg fit.You might not have to beef up at all.The Rayline forms are a little weak in the butt,the Precision one,I don't think is.I think I could cut down a grizzly head easier than the work I had to do on the 171.Had to lengthen back and front,then quarter and expand each of the 4 pieces,16 pieces total.The main difference should be nose to eye length and the lip to top of nose in the grizzly is taller.Oh,and grizzlies have a little longer feet.Your hide will show you what to do there-no biggie.Again,if that pose is real close,I think the grizzly would be your best option.I haven't used that form so I don't know much aboutit,but it doesn't look bad.I would try the skin before I changed anything.Sometimes we get some pleasant surprises and there isn't as much to do as we thought.No sense doing work that isn't needed.Sometimes these outsized animals just take a little extra work.I don't know your situation,but sometimes customers are willing to pay extra when their bear was "so big" that the taxidermist had to get a grizzly form yadda yadda yadda.
Things were tougher 15 years ago,we didn't have the large black bear forms or the grizzly forms we're speaking of and a guy would have done 4 times the work to get to where you need to go.Things are getting better.I still want to get a CM changeout head for these large blacks.Anyway,good luck with it.Sounds like a cool project.I'd love to see a picture of it when it's finished.
It was a Precision Form #372LS that Im thinking of using. Its really close to the form the client wants. Im going to thaw the skin out again this weekend and take some more measurments. Im not sure if McKenzie will be at the Mich show, but if they are I may call them and ask them to bring the form. That way I can check it out without buying it. If it fits, Ill take it home.
I thought that might be the one.You might also talk one of the people at McKenzie into taking a couple measurements for you.I use that wrist pad to top of shoulder measurement a lot.It's easy to locate on a skin or form and it tells the tale quick if the form is too tall.I wish i had measurements from that form.I've just never used that one.I have used the Precision 421 and the problem I've found with it is that the tail butt is about 4" too high.This means that you need to add 4" to the catalog measurement of 87".ie. you need a 91" bear to fit that form not 87".No biggie if you know this in advance.I don't know if the 372 has a similar situation or not.I have found that Precision form to be pretty good.Let me know what you figure out.