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Artificial Vs Real Waterfowl Bird Heads

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by redbluff77, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. redbluff77

    redbluff77 New Member

    Hi guys,

    I'm not a waterfowl taxidermist by any means and I'm not trying to stir up the pot. I'm just curious as to how many of you waterfowl taxidermists use real or fake duck heads? I know there were a couple taxidermists going around and having seminars a few years back talking about using artificial heads. What are the pros and cons on using artificial duck heads? Some guys say the real duck head shrinks on a mount after a few years, other guys tell me the fake head and artificial bill separates from the skin and feathers of the duck after awhile. I'm really asking this question for a friend. Thanks for any advice.
  2. oldyellowdog

    oldyellowdog Member

    Both are true if not done properly...
    artificial is still the better option.
    rigbobby likes this.

  3. CutchinsTrail

    CutchinsTrail New Member

    Artificial for ducks is the way I go. With either you have to paint the bill but with artificial no shrink age.

    Attached Files:

    rigbobby likes this.
  4. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Both work good depending on the occasion and skill of the taxidermist. The original always fits and is the right size. I remove the real head just like an artificial but rebuild it, or cast it, and glue the skin just like an artificial. It allows me to paint the bill/beak prior to mounting. Many artificial heads aren't available for open mouth. In all honesty for most run of the mill mounts, if an artificial head the correct size is available, I order it, just one less thing to deal with. Open the package, wash with thinner, paint bill/beak, clear, scrape paint where skin glues, set eyes, mount and I'm able to do most of those steps as a big batch.
  5. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    I'm about 50:50 on using artificial vs real heads. On commercial work, there is no problem with a properly cleaned and painted real head. I do not separate them from the carcass. A small slit on the underside allows me to invert the skull, clean and prep it.
    birddog1964 and byrdman like this.
  6. redbluff77

    redbluff77 New Member

    I appreciate the advice.
  7. byrdman

    byrdman Well-Known Member

    A lot depends on the mfgr of the heads and available species .Real heads can be seal coated just like fish fins and any wrinkles disapear . Not many guys will cut off all the fins on a fish and replace with fake ,also if you have a smashed or broken skull then you will be better off with a fake than trying to fight it . If you hate ,or are not very good at sewing a neck incision with short feathers, then fakes might be the way to go for you.When the fake heads were coming out 30 or so years ago ,I tried a few that at the time ,it was recommended to use bondo to adhere skin to head ,and after that long, I still have a couple here with no trace of separation. Today they recommend super glue, or crazy glue, or epogrip ,and like they said depends on craftsman if it will hold over time.
    redbluff77 likes this.
  8. GotHonks

    GotHonks Well-Known Member

    A good Artificial is so much less work and looks better , unless you spent hrs rebuilding shrunk areas like some show taxidermist do ..... Painting is a breeze ..... No worries about feathers getting paint on them ... I remove the feet and inject them with masters blend , pose them then paint them and put them back on when I mount the bird ....for me it's a lot less hassle ... Feathers stay clean
    There are quality artificial heads and garbage heads ...spend the extra cash for the nice ones ... Stay away from.... Ur a duck artificial heads ...
    rigbobby and Wildthings like this.
  9. BO-N-ARO

    BO-N-ARO Hunt hard but hunt safe!

    I use artificial heads. One reason is I get a good structural attachment to the neck. I slot out the back side of the head and drill a small vent hole on top and into the slot. I roll a turn and a half loop on the end of the neck wire. I fill the slot with hot glue and slide the loop into the head. excess glue comes out the vent and gets trimmed flush.
    When using the real head and clay I just do not get a good tight fit like I want.
    How do you all attach the real heads???
  10. GotHonks

    GotHonks Well-Known Member

    Never use real heads anymore, but I used to and I pretty much used the same method as with an artificial .... Used to clean the skull and replace the meat with plumbers puddy let it harden and drill out a void in the brain cavity , bend my neck wire into a loop hot glue the void , insert the wire and mount it like the artificial .... Worked great and in a pinch its what I would do again if need be ..... As for the artificial head install , I do everything the same as you except for one thing , I run. The wire through the hole I drill on top , dermal a little 1/2 slot on the head , bend wire into slot and give it a small dab of hot glue ...... Guaranteed its not going come loose or be unstable .... In fact you can't get it apart unless you cut it off ...... Its one extra step that only takes a min longer , well worth it ... With this method , you'll never have to worry about it coming loose once the glue hardens and you can bend it any way you want and it won't come loose ..