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Buck mounted, neck shrunk?

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Buck mounted, neck shrunk?

Old 09-22-2008, 04:43 AM
  #1  
Fork Horn
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Default Buck mounted, neck shrunk?

I shot a nice 5X5 mulie in Montana that had a real think neck. When I received the mount back from my taxidermist it had a pencil neck and looks nothing like it did when I shot it. Other than that it is a very nice mount. What happened? Do taxidermists order forms that are a size smaller so they can fit them easier? I'm a little disappointed. Please explain to me what happened!
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:19 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2008
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Default RE: Buck mounted, neck shrunk?

When new customers come in the shop, that's a common complaint I hear about competitors. Can't tell you for sure what happened in your case, but here are some possibilities.

(1) The worst case scenario (just so we can get it out of the way) would be that it might not be your cape. Tanning is not an exact science, so the tanning of your cape could have gone wrong. Some taxidermists have been known to simply replace the cape and try to pass it off as the original, which is not cool. A tanning mishap is almost never the taxidermist's fault, but trying to sneak in a replacement cape sure makes it look that way. One of my customers told a story about this really cool double throat patch buck he shot, but when he got the mount back from the taxidermist, one of the throat patches was magically gone. Another possibility is that the taxidermist simply got his capes mixed up, and you got someone's else's cape.

(2) A more likely option is that the cape shrunk and was not stretched back out properly. Whenever you tan a cape, it shrinks. The acids in the tanning chemicals simply pull the fibers together. So a deer with a 21-inch neck will give you a tanned cape with a 19-inch neck. When you neutralize the cape after tanning, the fibers will relax, and you SHOULD be able to stretch it back out to the original size. I've actually pulled muscles in my shoulder doing this, so it's not what you'd call easy. It's possible your taxidermist didn't try hard enough, or that the cape wasn't neutralized enough to permit stretching. One time when you can't stretch it back out is when you have an overly bloody cape. Tanned blood gets hard and takes away from the stretch. The only way to defeat this is to either (a) salt the cape before tanning until it is absolutely bone dry (salt pulls moisture out, including the blood), or (b) power wash the cape, pushing the blood out. With some of the new tanning chemicals, you don't have to salt first, so you may have had a cape tanned with blood still in the skin tissue.

(3) If there was a significant wound on the cape, it would have to be cut out and repaired, which will also take away from the size. And, once those areas are stitched up, you CAN'T put a lot of pressure on repairs by stretching the cape, or the repaired hole will simply pop open. In other words, a bad bullet hole on the neck will make your mount smaller in the long run. This is one instance that no taxidermist can avoid.

Aside from that, you are right that we have to order forms that are a bit smaller than the actual size of the tanned skin. This is simply because we have to have room to sew. In my shop, I take measurements on the carcass of the animal after I skin the cape off the skull. I then measure the tanned skin. I want a form that will fall somewhere between those two measurements -- at least as big as the carcass, but no bigger than the tanned the cape. Typically, if someone brings me a deer with a 20-1/2" neck measurement, I can stretch the tanned skin back out to 21-1/2", which means I'll probably order a 21" form. Just having an extra 1/2" for sewing is TIGHT, but doable. 1" of extra room is a LOT easier to manage, but anything more than that, and the deer is noticably smaller.

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Old 09-22-2008, 07:22 AM
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Default RE: Buck mounted, neck shrunk?

I can't speak to your taxidermist and situation, but often when a deer is killed and pics are taken with the deer lying on the ground, the neck is relaxed and the head sits way down on it making the neck look bigger than it is. Now if the pics are taken with the deer hanging the muscles can sag a bit towards the head, also making the neck look bigger. Most taxidermists either take measurements from the carcass or the tanned skin. Both methods are accurate and should leave you with results similar to that of the living animal. If a taxidermist were to mount a deer on a form that was too small, it would be very difficult to do, and there would most likely be wrinkles in the skin, etc. If they were to use a form that was 1" smaller ("one size smaller") you most likely could not tell the difference because the size is so close, visually there isn't much of a change. Keep in mind I am speaking of competent, quality taxidermists that are good at what they do. I have seen some real hack jobs by cheap hacksidermists that I couldn't begin to tell you how they ended up with the finished product they have. Some pics of your mount might be helpful.
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:34 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2008
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Default RE: Buck mounted, neck shrunk?

Good catch Cole. I knew there was something I left out. Every taxidermist can tell stories of customers coming in and saying "I remember him being bigger". I did a reproduction trout for a guy last year that was a full 2-inches longer and 2-inches bigger around than the measurements he gave me, and he said the repro was smaller than his fish was. Had to get the tape measure out to prove it to him.



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