New Zealand 2019 – Part 1

At Safari Club in 2018 my wife Connie and I bid on an auction hunt for 2 Sika deer for two hunters, with Shane Quinn of Alpine Hunting in New Zealand . We were fortunate enough to obtain the hunt and the first thing we did was to add a Fallow deer for Connie and a Sambar for me, as I wanted to sculpture a new form.  We set the date for the summer of 2019 and little did I know just how great this hunt would turn out to be!

Alpine Hunting is located on New Zealand’s north Island and is a place of beauty. The view from the lodge looked directly up into our hunting country:

 With Sambar as my focus, my guide Luke had set up a special tree stand months earlier in a secluded draw where he hoped we would have some action. We were really hidden well and I felt really good about our prospects.

But morning of day one came and went with little Sambar action.  We did see a small bull so our anticipation remained high. But our plan was to leave the blind in late morning and head back to the lodge to pick up Connie to see if we could locate a decent Sika for her. The Sika picture below shows a great bull ready to melt into the darkness of the brush behind.There was no shortage of these deer and she made a great 100 yard shot to fill her Sika tag. Luke was a great photographer with his iPone and he set up this fantastic photo…

On day two we were back in our bow blind well before daylight.  And while we did not see a shooter Sambar, we got a close look at several giant Fallows.  When we climbed down later in the morning I told Luke that if that “heavy” one ever came back I would like to try for him. These Fallows are huge! But it was now Connie’s turn again and this time she would be after a Fallow of her own. We made several stalks and finally got within 160 yards of what looked to me to be an absolute giant.

A bow always makes life more difficult, but on our 3rd time in the Sambar blind, the very first animal down the trail past our tree was the heavy fallow from the day before!

With some success under our belt we decided to head back out in the afternoon to see if we could locate a Sambar.  And locate we did!  Just before dark we found a single bull in a small draw and Luke had a plan to get a shot…

This Sambar turned out to be a nice average specimen perfect for a new form. My main goal was now complete.  But I still had a Sika to hunt, or at least that is what I thought the plan would be. Instead, we decided to hunt a cull Sambar that had been frequenting the blind area.

We sat in the pouring rain the next morning for our chance at the cull, and more Sambar reference…

Then on the 5th day we awoke from rain to a good covering of snow!  We headed for a box blind in a new area and ended up with a shot at a nice Sika.

Great hunt… great trophies and great reference for new forms. If it had ended there it would have been a very successful time. But as I looked back through my photos, during lunch after taking the Sika,  I came across a Red Stag photo that I had taken the first day in camp as we just rode around looking at the country and the animals.

Now we all know that different hunters all seem to like different antler characteristics.  Some like narrow and tall, I like width and mass.  Some like perfectly clean racks, I like drop-tines and stickers. This bull embodied most of what I really appreciate in a rack and I realized this would be a dream trophy for me.   Since I could really use the reference, I asked Luke if there was any chance that in the day and a half we had left to hunt that we might be able locate this one particular bull again. All we could do was try. That evening at least we saw him again so we knew we were in the right area and a plan was drawn for the morning hunt.

Finding him again was one thing but getting close enough for a bow shot is another. It’s still hard to believe it all came together.

I spent a lot of time on this trip just photographing animals, and following are a few examples:

Fallow buck.


Sika fight!

Red Stag.

Red Deer are so impressive!.  Lots of antler here.

Spanish Goat.

Well, as they say, all good things must come to an end and we headed for home.  But “good things” aren’t actually done for me just yet, as there are new forms to be made!  More on that sometime down the road,  in part 2.

How to Prepare Pronghorn Horns

The Pronghorn Antelope is known as the only horned animal to actually shed its horns.  While this may be an interesting fact, it can be problematic for the taxidermist.  With other horned game, since they never shed, their horns fit more snugly to the inner bone core of the skull.  Once you remove the horns from the skull for preservation, they can generally be re-fitted for the mounting process, without too much difficulty.

But the Pronghorn, because it does shed, the inner bone core is covered with a thick, heavy gristle. If the gristle is not removed, you could be asking for possible odor problems and even bug infestation.  So to properly mount a Pronghorn antelope, you must remove the horns and replace the gristle with Bondo.

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How To: Adjust For a Missing Skullplate

In a recent blog I added more turn to a mule deer form.  As you might have noticed the antlers were attached to the form as I did the alteration.  I felt this would be best in order to better observe how the finished mount might look.  But as I attempted to set the antlers a whole new problem arose.  So I thought it might be good to step backwards and show what I encountered and the fairly easy fix, should you ever come up with a similar situation.

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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 Turn To a Form – Part 1

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!

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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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