I have just received my head mounted rug from the taxidermist and nearly died when I saw it. The head and rugging job was absolutely first class, but the trimming of the rug seems to me to be overly excessive. The bear was nearly 500 pounds but so much hide is missing it makes the head look incredibly huge. The width across the back at the armpit area is only 25 inches, and this bear was nearly 500lbs! From mid abdomen back it looks fine, but it has an extreme arrow taper towards the head. Even the arms of the bear look awfully skinny for such a large bear. Does anyone in this forum have any suggestions for me, or is there anyway this damage can be undone? It was such a georgeous and massive bear that has now been, in my eyes, destroyed. Even the 16 Y/O neighbor girl's first comment was "what happened? Why is it so small? The head looks goofy." I asked the taxidermist what happened and he says it looks fine. He suggested I call the rug maker, which I did, but after they said they would call me back, they didn't. Sorry for such a long post, but I can't believe it's the same bear and need to know if it can be repaired. Thanks for any responses.
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I don't know of anything that can be done to fix what's been removed and discarded. I can only sympathize with your displeasure. I find it incredulous that ANY taxidermist would imply or even hint for a customer to contact someone HE'D contracted to do HIS rugwork. Were it mine, you wouldn't have had to make that call, it would've been done before you ever saw the work and the rugger would be held reponsible and tasked to repair or replace the work AT THE CUSTOMER'S OPTION.
I cant talk for the rug maker, but it sounds like, possibly, the belly hair came out at the tanning step, would only be a guess.
Would the rugger receive the bear tanned, or would they do the tan along with the rug?
There are a few places that tan and rug, but I've had a bite from that apple. Usually people who specialize in rugging get a soft tanned hide WITH the head installed. Some, like Tim Jordan, will install a head much better and a whole lot cheaper than I can so when I use them, I let them do the whole thing. Still, I consider the rugger MY contractor and it should and will be me doing the contacting if necessary.
I have seen this on bears that were skinned by inexperienced hunters.The skinning cut from one front foot across to the other is made too low on the chest and results in two large flaps of hide at the top and two large skinless areas in the armpits. It is a fair bit of work to fix this.
...of specimen at time of rugging.I have been servicing the Industry for 17 years with my Wholesale Rugmaking,so I am very qualified to answer this one. Sounds to me like the skin was initially cut improperly and instead of repairing and putting the skin back where it belongs, it was just cut off and discarded.In my shop when rugging, I always remove the improperly cut skin and then re-attach it where it belongs before I stretch the skin for rugging.The bottom line for every rugmaker should be to make the rug look it's biggest and best.There is an additional fee for this repairing and I always discusss it with the taxidermist I am working for prior to doing the work.I have never had one say ,no ,don't repair it, as they are usually aware before sending it to me of the visible improper cutting,they , their client or the outfitter had done when skinning.Improper skinning is common on skins for rugs, but it certainly is a fixable problem! Any professional rugmaker should always do these repairs and have loads of scrap bear on hand for repairs and patches, if the origional pieces aren't with the skin. If this was recently rugged,it can be taken apart, rehydrated ,have bears skin patches added where they should have been in the first place, re-stretched and re-rugged.Don't know if the rugger still has the origional patches they cut off, but any bear patch that will match the hair color and hair length will do the job.So sorry you had your trophy ruined, but find comfort in knowing it can be repaired. I don't feel your taxidermist should have had you call his rugmaker, unlesss the rugmaker specifically told him to have you call. When a taxidermist sends a rug to a rugmaker, he contracts them to do his work. When the completed rug is returned to him, it is his responsibility to examine it and approve the work prior to letting you pick it up.If he has made the call for you to pick up your finished piece, he has put his seal of approval on it, that he is content with the quality of work his shop has provided for you. There is a large amount of new rugmakers in the Industry , and just like begginers in anything, the lack of experience will lead to mistakes(not saying that was the case here, just making an observation) Referrence and years of experience are credentials that should not be overlooked when selecting a rugmaker. Hope you get this dilemma resolved to your liking.
Was cruising on the treadmill this morning after I answered your post and another possible answer for your "smaller" bear came to mind. When a bear is stretched and dried ,prior to rugging,the dry skin will be sparce of hair under the arms,on the flank areas and sometimes on the tops of the shoulders(as that skin is pulled up from the underside of the bear). This is all perfectly normal, as these are the areas where the hair is naturally sparce on all animals. These areas need to be dyed ,leaving the dyed areas making the sparce areas appear cosmetically darker and well haired to blend with the rest of the animal. I have seen rugs that inexperienced rugmakers have cut all that area away, with the end result being a skinny bear from underarm to underarm. Just thought I should share this other possible explanation with you.
I was asked if I would look at pictures of the above mentioned rug, I did, and here is my response to the owner:
After looking at the pictures you had asked me to view, I really see no problem with the rug. From the pictures you sent the head appears to be in proportion with the rest of the rug. It is a good looking well haired bear.Regarding the underarm spread,you stated in your e-mail that it measures 27" not 24" across.I went into my shop and measured a 4'10" bear I have ready for a customer and it measures 27" across. Now, a bear this size give or take a few
inches weighs in the neighborhood of 250# to 300# tops. So unless you physically had your bear weighed, you were off 100#-200#,which may be why you think this bear should be larger. The concern you have about the left arm appearing narrower than the right is an optical illusion,for if you look closer the hair is longer on the right arm making it appear wider. Looking at the rug and your statement that the rugger is well known in the Industry, I know by the felt border whose did the rugmaking and they indeed do nice work.You certainly should feel confident that you did recieve a quality finished product. From your description on the web I was expecting to see quite a nightmare, because I have seen my share, but that is not the case here. I can understand your
questioning, as I am a hunter myself , and realistically we all may think something we harvest is a bit larger than we see it when it is mounted.
Kindest regards and enjoy your rug,