Taxidermy for Deer Trophies

Should you consider Taxidermy as a means of preserving your deer trophy? Peter Jones meets John Hall a well respected Taxidermist. 

taxidermy

I have been in a few strange places in my life and the workshop of a taxidermist has to be amongst them. As I stood talking with John Hall, a leading taxidermist, I could feel numerous pairs of eyes staring down at me from all manner of wild beasts and birds that had at some stage fallen prey to the hunter. 

(Right: A Fallow Buck trophy in the process of being prepared)

I have to admit in the past, having been a little uneasy about the practice of effectively stuffing wild animals. The strangely macabre images, that the trade has conjured in my mind in the past, are of rare, bright coloured birds, sitting lifelessly on perches, within Victorian glass domes, birds that sometimes should clearly have been sparred, to insure the continuity of the species. 

These perceptions are of course, now outdated, and the images that people now have of Taxidermy are, I’m pleased to say, starting to fade as fast as the new ethos of conservation and management of wild animals is growing. 

For hunters and deer stalkers today, taxidermy is no longer a means of displaying to your guests your mastery and dominance over endangered wild animals, but is instead, more a means of cherishing a special memory and capturing the depiction of a animal in its most real image.

Most, who stalk deer for long enough, will with time, start to collect a series of trophies of one description or another. Whether this is a photo of the proud hunter with his recently shot stag, the spent cartridge case from the round used to dispatch their first deer, or the skull and antlers of a superb Royal, shot whilst stalking in the highlands. Either way most hunters become, in one form or another, collectors of trophies. 

taxidermistSo no longer do I have feelings of being ill at ease in such workshops. Instead I now associate taxidermy more with the image of a magnificent Red Stag, boastfully and proudly displayed over the mantel piece of a hunter, who’s respect for his fallen, and hard sought quarry, is matched by his pride at having grassed such a superb beast.

(Right: A Roe Buck being prepared for a client)

The reason I write this piece, is because lately I have had reason to call on the employ of John Hall Taxidermy, to mount a couple of terrific Fallow Buck and an excellent Muntjac, shot by clients during the preceding few months. The other reason for the piece is simply to highlight this option to deer stalkers who might, instead of wanting the traditional trophy head, consisting of boiled out skull and antlers, desire a more lifelike depiction of their beast. 

In just a few weeks time, stalkers will be setting out to stalk Roe Buck, in what is usually considered one of the best months of the year, (May) so if you fancy something aside from the typical trophy head, then you might want to give Taxidermy some consideration. 

Before doing so, two important points to remember. The first is that the CIC trophy measurement system requires the weight of the skull and antlers of most deer species, in order to arrive at a score. Trophies cannot therefore, be measured once they have been mounted. For this reason, if you want a trophy measured, you will need to speak with your taxidermist to arrange this before he prepares the head. 

Secondly having first shot your deer, you should avoid bleeding the animal in the usual manner, all cuts through the skin at the front of the neck and chest will be visible and will therefore have to be rectified and repaired by the taxidermist. Instead the head should be removed by first capping the animal. This involves cutting the skin along the back of the neck, starting at the atlas joint and preceding the cut down the back of the neck, where the cut can not be seen. You should then skin the neck around to the lower jaw before detaching the head. Remember, it is best to have too much for the taxidermist to use than too little.

This all takes a bit of practice, but it is in fact, a fairly logical process and will be the subject of a future article.

Here at County Deer Stalking we offer some great rates for those who wish to have their trophy Buck or Stag mounted. For more information on prices simply see our Terms and Conditions under Taxidermy (H) terms-conditions

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