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.

The accommodations were great, like living in a stone castle for a few days. The following picture is of the “lodge”.

So life was good, now all we needed was an Ibex.  There are three other species of Ibex that are hunted in Spain including the Gredos, Southeastern and Ronda Ibex.  But you have to start somewhere and the Beceite seemed to be the most doable with a bow.

Our first day out I found the terrain to be reasonably rugged, some pretty steep stuff, but doable even for an old geezer like me.  As you would imagine all the hunting is done by spot and stalk.  For several days we climbed and glassed and even made a few stalks, but to no avail.  As it can with bow and arrow, something always seemed to go wrong.

Then we heard it.  The sound of fighting rams way up on the mountain, somewhere.  We studied the sound and then my guide said he could see them, in a cave-like strip, on a rugged stone-faced wall a long ways from where we were.  In the photo below is the cave strip, almost right in the center of the photo.

During the rut, Ibex can stay preoccupied for a good long while with all this macho fighting stuff and my guide felt it would be worth the climb to get up there as quickly as we could.  In their distraction perhaps we could get in close for a shot.  So we were off.

I thought I was up to the task but by the time we had climbed to within 100 yard of the loud crashing horns, I have to say I was running out of gas.  We slowed the pace but they were close and there was no time to rest.  When we reached the ledge they were on, it was petty crazy.  We crawled and held on to a VERY narrow rock trail that we probably should not have been on, but then we peeked through a bush to a wonderfully amazing sight… two Ibex rearing up on there back legs and crashing together only 30 yards away.  They would circle each other, rear up and smash together and then do it all again .  Over and over and over and over… it seemed they would never tire of their obsession.  The following photo was pulled from a video that my guide took.  The quality is not great but I wanted to give you at least some sort of vision of what we encountered.

It was so absolutely awesome to watch that I almost forgot why we were there.   Almost.

Ultimately we were able to get a shot and the following picture shows one of the above rams.

Notice some of the beautiful terrain in the background.

He died on a narrow ledge and I had to be extremely careful as I measured him and took photos of the head from all different angles.

I believe this to be a medium average Beceite Ibex.  I now had my measurements,  a full skull and cape,  so part one of this trip was accomplished.  Now all I needed was the opportunity to get photographs of live animals.  With 600 mm lens in tow, we headed out.

I was able to get hundreds of photos and here are a few samples:

And last but not least, check out this pig!

I took photos of live animals from all angles and in several different positions, then used these photos and measurements to come up with the following model:

This model is just ruffed in and has a lot of work left but it’s far enough along that you can get the idea.  Below are a couple of head shots.

Please note how I cut the horns out of the skull,  I made a “flat” cut rather than notching out through the eye.  This allowed me to leave more sculpture around the eyes. The following picture shows exactly where the cut was made:

Well, I guess this turns out to be another part one as I will mount the Ibex in part two,  as soon as the mold is complete.

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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Rusa Deer and Mauritius Island Part 1

For years I have wanted to hunt Rusa deer.  They are a unique deer and I’ve always felt the need for a new form.  So when an auction hunt at the Safari Club Convention last year turned out to be a Rusa deer hunt on Mauritius Island, I was all in and we walked away with the hunt!   Read the rest of this entry »

Photography- Yellowstone in the Spring, Close up and Personal

Yellowstone is a great spot for photography in either the spring or the fall.  Since there is not much going on for antlers in the spring,  it’s a great time for bears or wolves.  Now I must admit I have not had much luck on close-up bears or wolves.  I have seen both,  just not within good photo range.   Little did I know what lay in store for us as we headed for the Park this last month, the close-up grizzly category… was about to change! Read the rest of this entry »

How to: Widen a Deer Head

This is number three in a series of six head alterations that I said I felt no taxidermist can live without.   I say this merely because in the world of everyday taxidermy you will, at some time, benefit dramatically by knowing how to accomplish these alterations.  It may not be an everyday thing, but there will come a time.  So this one is all about making a head wider than the original. Read the rest of this entry »

The Method To My Madness

Today’s skilled taxidermists have a slightly different mounting process than in days of old.  Modern foam forms with their pre-sculpted details have somewhat negated the need for the average taxidermist to know anatomy in the same way as when paper forms were prevalent.  I made some effort to show this in an earlier post called  “From Old to New” (see the Taxidermy category on this blog).

But let me say this. The process today is just different, it does not take any less skill or ability, only slightly different skill and ability. Read the rest of this entry »

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