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).

So to accomplish this project, start the same way you would to widen a head.  Mark the head as shown and then cut the head off along the line.



Once the head is removed, saw it in half, again just as you would to widen the head…


But now, rather than inserting spacers to widen the head, we now want to narrow it.   Do this by holding the two halves tightly together, and then cut right down the seam of the original cut. You will have to go through the headlock again so it’s good to have a fairly sharp band saw blade. Cut through as many times as needed to obtain the desired narrower width.


You can also narrow the muzzle in the process, leave it to its original width, or even widen the nose if you desire–the choice is yours.   The important thing here is to not freak out if you end up with the head too narrow.  If you mess up, simply install screw spacers (just like widening a head) to get it back to whatever width you wanted.                                                           When you get the width right, simply Bondo the two halves back together.  And then finally:


Bondo the head back on to the form.


Notice in the above photo that once re-attached, the head is now slightly narrower than the neck.  Work this “lip” down with a Stout Ruffer or a rasp, and you are ready to go.  The whole process should not take more than about 10 minutes once you get the hang of it.

Also please note:  Depending on the form, if you feel that narrowing the entire head makes the ear butt area too narrow, you can simply model over the area with clay to bring the width back.  Or, you can cut off the head behind the eyes and in front of the ear butts when you make your first removal of the head.  This means you will only be narrowing the head from the eyes forward, leaving the back of the head and ear butts to their original width.


It’s hard to tell you did much of anything to the form, but the skin will now definitely fit better.  Cool.

Stay tuned for alterations number 5 and 6.


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