I shot this Bushbuck a whole bunch of years ago when it showed up quite unexpectedly at a waterhole in South Africa.  He was ultimately too jumpy to actually drink but I was able to get an arrow out a small side window in the blind as he ducked back into the brush from which he had come.  When I told my PH what had happened, his first reaction was to ask “are you sure it was a Bushbuck”, since no Bushbuck had ever been seen in this location in the past.  It was, and here is the mount on McKenzie form BU-1442.



9800 Wall Pedestal

In this Category (see right side panel) of “Mount Photos” my plan is to post photos of past mounts.  Mostly I plan on just posting a photo but I may also include any notes or story associated with the mount, if there is something that might be of interest. The deer posted here today is probably one of my favorites.  It is mounted on the very first wall-pedestal concept form, the 9800 Series, introduced to the industry back in 1997. This mount was featured on the cover of McKenzie catalog #35 (2009-2010).  The buck is a bow-kill taken by my nephew Brad Tadlock back in 2008.  Very cool Iowa deer.

How To: Add More Turn To a Form

So in an earlier blog post I noted that one area that will really increase your value as a taxidermist, is the ability to alter a stock form into whatever position your customer might fancy.  Often these are quite simple projects that can take very little time, but will make your customer extremely happy with you and the mount!

I recently had a situation arise that I hope will show just how little time it can take to get exactly what you (and your customer) want.  My wife shot a mule deer a number of years ago that we finally decided to put in a specific spot, on a specific wall.  After installing a hanger in that spot on the wall I hung up a new 6MD5222WP and stood back for a look.  What we both decided quite quickly was that the best view of this deer would be as one entered the room from a hallway located more to the left of the deer.  Since moving the deer was not an option, what I needed to do was to add a bit more turn to the form.  This would not only get the deer looking where we wanted but it would also add more of a “custom” look as it would now be different from the original pose (the same hunter might bring you a deer year after year and by being able to tweak a form your customer can get a different “look” each time even if you use the same form).

The first picture (below) in this series shows the view of the deer from the hallway.  Nothing wrong with this angle, we just wanted him looking directly at us from this spot.

I decided to start the turn from the base of the shoulder rather than higher up in the neck as this would create a more natural look. To accomplish the desired affect I would have to start by taking a wedge out of the neck, right in front of the inside shoulder.  The wedge is marked in the following photo:

I used a reciprocating saw to remove the wedge then I sawed all the way through the neck to remove it completely from the shoulders.  See below.

Be sure at this point to hollow out a bit of foam from the inside turn of the neck piece so that once the neck is repositioned on the shoulders there will be room to pour foam.  Then reconnect the the neck to the shoulder with nails, leaning the neck in the direction of the turn (where the wedge was removed).  This will increase the amount of turn and at the same time will open up a space on the opposite side of the neck,  as shown in the following photo:

While the deer is now looking directly at us, just as we wanted, note (above) that the left eye is slightly lower than the right eye.  Most often when you increase or decrease a turn you will slightly change the angle of the head.  That is pretty normal and is easy to fix but first I wanted to solidly attach the neck back to the shoulders.  I added some 3 1/2″ screws into the form to firmly hold the joint in place, then I poured foam into the open side.

Once the foam is cured I can now fix the head.  Simply cut it off in a straight line approximately as shown below.   Attach it back with Bondo, twisted slightly so that the eyes are now level.
Clean up the seams with a Stout Ruffer and then rough up the rest of the form, and the deer is ready to mount. Below is the finished job.  With the form on the same hanger on the wall, and me in the hallway, this is what I now see:

So below is before:

And then after:

Just in case you are wondering, it took me about 7-8 minutes to cut the form and fasten the neck back on. It took a minute or so to mix foam and pour it into the opening (then of course I did other things while the foam cured). Then it took about 3 more minutes to cut off the head and Bondo it back in place. It’s safe to say I did the whole thing in less than 15 minutes, and now my client is REALLY happy with me.

Rusa Deer and Mauritius Island Part 3

Recently I received a finished production form of the Rusa deer that I sculptured in part 2 of this series.  I have since mounted the deer, so without further ado, lets begin part 3 with a look at the finished mount:

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Beceite Ibex Hunt in Spain – Part 1

Whether I will ever attempt to take all four main species of Ibex in Spain remains to be seen.  But for now, my goal was simply to take a mature Beceite Ibex and sculpture a form specifically for that particular animal. I booked a hunt through Neil Summers Bowhunting Consultants with Salvaforcaza  because of their great reputation and for their excellent success with a bow and arrow.  I had never been to Spain so I really looked forward to the trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Rusa Deer and Mauritius Island Part 2

A while back I published an article about a Rusa deer hunt on Mauritius Island (see the Hunting category: Rusa Deer and Mauritius Island,  Part 1).  In that post I mentioned that when I received the capes and skulls back from overseas I would sculpture a new Rusa deer form.  Finally, that day has come. The following is a look into the process of mannikin sculpture.  There are certainly varied and different methods in the creation of a new taxidermy form that could possibly end up with similar final results, but the following procedure is one that I use quite often and is perhaps one of the most enjoyable for me, as it presents the opportunity to start with nothing and end up with, well hopefully, a helpful new industry product. Read the rest of this entry »

How To: Fit a Skin to a Form

Since I am often asked how one knows they have selected the perfect sized form for a mount,  I thought this might be a good time to share some thoughts on this subject, so here goes…

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How To: Shorten a Deer Head

A few years ago I was down in Texas collecting whitetail reference and we came across a very interesting deer.  He had a decent sized body, big neck, big head and a very nice set of antlers.  They figured him to be in the 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 year range. For overall fit, I would have guessed a 7 1/4 x 23 inch form, or maybe even larger.  On today’s mannikin choices I might have picked a 69-7123 size form.  There was only one problem–this deer’s eye to nose only measured  6 1/2 inches!  The head on the form would have been a full 3/4 of an inch too long, even though everything else would work great.  A  6 1/2 inch form would be WAY too small, and a 6 1/2 inch changeout head would be too small as well, particularly in the width between the eyes.   This guy was a big, mature deer; all we would really need here would be a shorter face on the 7 1/4″ form. Read the rest of this entry »

How To: Lengthen a Deer Head

Of the six head alterations that I have claimed taxidermists can’t live without, perhaps lengthening a head, number five in our series, is the most valuable.  At least it’s the one you are apt to use most often.  As I have mentioned, there are many combinations of form sizes in the world of whitetail taxidermy, but even at that, lengthening a head and alteration number six, shortening a head, can come in handy when trying to match the innumerable size variations in nature.  And when you consider all the other species of game that don’t have all the commercial size options, this alteration can be gold.  And like all the other alterations that I have shown so far, they don’t take a lot of time but can make a HUGE difference in the fit of the skin.

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How To: Narrow a Deer Head

Let’s say you try on a skin and it fits fine, but you realize the skin is very snug on the head and getting the tear ducts and eyes into place will be a real challenge.  And drumming seems inevitable.  What to do…

Well, you can help the fit dramatically in this situation by simply narrowing the head; it’s amazing how well a skin can fit with just the removal of 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch of material from between the eyes.  If you’ve been keeping track, this is number four in my series of six head alterations that I said I was convinced  you couldn’t live without (if you missed the first three, check them out under the “Taxidermy” category).

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