Trophy mounts require special care

Posted: Thursday, September 28, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Fairbanks taxidermist Dennis Goldbach has a simple philosophy when it comes to caring for animals in the field that you plan to have mounted.

''Take care of it more than you take care of yourself and normally the hides will be in good shape,'' said Goldbach, a master measurer for Safari Club International and Pope & Young.

Here are some taxidermy tips to remember:

--Talk to a taxidermist before going into the field.

It's free and it can save you a bundle in the long run. The biggest mistakes hunters make in preparing animals for taxidermy are cutting capes too short and poor fleshing of hides, both of which can be addressed by your taxidermist before you head to the field.

Ask about turning ears and lips, which can help prevent slippage. It's not that difficult and it will only take a taxidermist a few minutes to demonstrate.

--Take plenty of salt.

It's better to have too much salt than not enough and it's cheap. Immediate salting is crucial to preserving a hide for taxidermy. Depending upon the weather, some hides start slipping in two- or three days. At least 5- to 10 pounds of non-iodized salt is needed for a sheep or caribou. Washing a hide requires as much as two or three times as much salt.

--Take an extra tent just for animals when you go hunting.

A tent will quicken the drying process by waterproofing the hides and increasing the drying temperature. It's warmer in a tent and it provides protection from the sun, which helps prevent slipping or loss of hair.

--Never salt and freeze a hide.

That's because saltwater does not freeze, which means a salted cape never really freezes.

--The better you do when fleshing the hide, the better off you will be.

You'll have major slippage if you don't get all the fat and meat off the hide. A glaze will form and prevent the salt from doing its job.

--Don't cut the cape too short.

Cut around the belly or rib cage, not the shoulder, so your taxidermist has some room to maneuver. It doesn't cost anything extra to leave some extra cape on the animal.

--If you want to save velvet on caribou antlers, then pokes holes in the tips to drain blood.

You'll be surprised by how much blood the antlers hold. Also, use cloth backing if you tie the antlers with rope. That way, you don't scar the velvet.

--Make sure you have room in your house for whatever it is that you want mounted.

You don't want to spend a bunch of money on a moose or caribou mount when you don't have room to display it. Figure out where you're going to put it before you shoot it and make sure you have a way to get it in the house.

--Don't expect your mount back in a week.

It takes about a year for most taxidermists to complete a mount.

--Check into detachable antlers.

It makes for easier and cheaper shipping and also makes moving the mounts in and out of houses much easier. It only costs an extra $20 and requires just one hole to be drilled.

--Be prepared to spend some money.

Mounts aren't cheap. A bear headmount goes for about $450. Caribou and Dall sheep cost $500. A moose is $900. A full body mount costs about three times what a headmount does. Bear rugs are the most popular mount for hunters and range in price from $115 a foot for a black bear to $125 a foot for brown and grizzly bears.

(From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner via The Associated Press)

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