What could give someone more satisfaction than proudly displaying a trophy animal? How
about creating that quality trophy mount yourself. That is exactly what I thought to myself when I harvested a very nice whitetail buck a few years back. I had always been interested in the hobby of taxidermy and I finally had something worth the time and effort to give it a try, not to mention it was a lot cheaper than paying someone else to do it.
The first thing you will need to do is take measurements of your deer cape. Each supplier will have a reference guide detailing where and how to measure your deer cape so it fits the form. Once the reference measurements are taken there are still a couple of decisions that have to be made in order to start the mount. One, the pose of the mount, which is a personal preference but, keep in mind that the form must meet the reference measurements. Also, forms can come almost completely ready for mounting with eyes preset and positive placement ears. This makes it easier and can save time, but it is more costly. When ordering the form, it is good practice to order the other supplies needed at the same time to cut down on shipping cost. There are also kits available with everything needed to do a shoulder mount, which could also be an option to the first timer. The last thing to consider is the tanning of the cape. I use a wet tan rather than send it out to a tannery. There are a couple of reasons for this, which is cost and turn around time. It costs ten dollars for me to do the wet tan and around 10 dollars just to ship the cape to the tannery. Another is turnaround time, it takes no longer than five days to flesh, salt, and tan a hide if I do it myself. It will take anywhere from two to four months or longer for a tannery. There is something to be said for the tannery though, because they can thin a cape out better. The thinning makes the cape more pliable and prevents drumming. The tannery may be the way to go if one doesn't feel comfortable with trying to tan a cape on their own. So, even before starting there are some decisions to be made in regards to time, money, and confidence in ones own ability.
Getting started on the mounting process, let's assume that the form is a standard upright form with preset eyes, positive placement ears with molded butts, and all other supplies are on hand. The first thing to do is fit the cleaned skull plate into position on the form. Make sure that the antlers are even and look spaced from side to side. Check that they are parallel with the head by matching up the brow tines and the plane of the nose to the top of the skull plate. Adjust accordingly, by adding a shim to the plate or shaving down some of it. Once even, drill holes in the plate, two in the front and one in the center on the back. Attach the plate with flat-headed wood screws and fill in the seams that separate the plate and the form with some self hardening clay. Also, fill in...