Taxidermy supplies and tips > Deer taxidermy > Mounting deer antlers

Mounting deer antlers

Drop the dry ear cartilages into warm water. 1n this they will quickly regain their natural shape. Using them as models make a pair of ,duplicates of them of thin sheet lead which may be procured from a plumber or hardware dealer. Split into the base of the cartilage
so it may be spread as nearly flat as possible and lay on the lead, drawing around its outline with a nail point. Cut out the lead ears with a pair of metal-shears. Hammer into natural concave shape with a bit of heavy wood rounded into a ball at one end for the purpose.
(For details of ear making see Fig. 36.).

With the skin and mannikin in readiness makeup a batch of plaster of paris in thin glue water, only enough glue stirred in so that it can barely be felt when the fingers are rubbed together in the water. This should retard the plaster setting for from four to six hours and give ample time for finishing the deer's face. This compo. will set immediately if used in a skin that has been treated as the glue becomes tanned and impotent by them.

Make this compo. thick and stiff and mix into it some chopped manila fiber. For finishing one deer face and ear-butts about a quart and a half of the compo. should be made. This should cover the face thinly, fill the ear-butts, set the eyes, and fill nose and mouth details out.

In beginning the setting of the scalp intoplace, cover the lead ears thinly with the compo. and slip them into the ear skins. The
lead will have to be partly folded together to accomplish this and spread again when inside. If edges of ears have been torn open in skinning, sew them up neatly from the outside, using a small round needle and small thread before the lead is placed.

With the cartilages set, fill the ear butts with compo., squeezing it out upon the lead a little way that it may brace the ears when set finally.

Set the mannikin in the vise for convenience. Cover skull with a thin layer of compo. where bone is exposed and slip the face skin into place. Hold the scalp up now by tying a heavy cord under the jaw and behind, the horns. Draw the neck skin into place and tie it up with a piece of cord about the neck near base. Now, for better convenience in sewing, remove the head from the vise, set front of neck base on the floor and lean the antlers against a chair
seat, back of neck up. Draw corners of antler cuts together back of the horns.

Begin at one horn and sew to joint of the Y cut. Sew from the other horn and then continue down the neck to th`e base, using medium
stitches and drawing tight. This method of sewing a game head is the only exception, in taxidermy, to sewing toward the head. For a raw scalp use a sail needle and waxed ends. For a tanned scalp, a large fur needle and strong linen.

With the sewing completed, turn to nailing the scalp to the back-board. Turn the free edge of skin down over back of board and nail
firmly with short broad headed nails so that when the surplus is trimmed off a turned over edge of skin two or three inches wide will remain, held snugly by nails set two inches apart. Count upon finishing a raw head all up at one go when using the plaster compo. This is the only compo. which can be recommended to hold raw, haired skins down, as the material must set before the skin begins to dry and pull.

Before turning to finishing the face, unscrew the holding piece from back of neck-board and nail up the part of skin's edge that it coveted.

Replace the piece and set head in vise facing you. Pinch and mold the ear skin tightly upon the compo. covered lead and model the earbutts into shape firmly against the head.

Run a strong-threaded fur needle, with large knot at end of thread, through middle of upper edge of each lead ear. Draw ears up to desired position and wrap thread around a convenient part of antlers to hold until compo. sets. Next loop a cord under each ear at base of cartilage and tie over antlers to hold lower end of cartilage from sagging until set. When ears are finished, press face skin into compo. upon skull and massage it down to
hold firmly.

Fill eyelids thinly inside flap of lining, place a little compo. in hollow of sockets, and set eyes.

Deer are usually quite fleshy just over the eyes. Place this filling before eyes are set. Also press a little compo. into the hollows of
Fig. 37. the suborbital glands and with the fingers work
these fleshy eye details out roughly and finish with a modeling tool, pressing the slits of suborbital glands in deeply with a thick-edged instrument. See that the face skin is worked down firmly and smoothly clear to the nose.

Fill nose and upper lip and model them into natural shape. Lastly, fill chin and lower lip.

Tuck lower lip up well under upper and model lips and chin into proper relation to each other. If any compo, has gotten into the hair wipe it out with a damp sponge. Leave head in the
vise until compo. is set and then hang in a well ventilated place to dry. Do not hang near stove or radiator.

When thoroughly dried out, brush dust out of hair and finish the eyelids, nostrils, etc., with wax and cotton, burned in, same as given for finishing a small mammal.

If placing the head upon a shield, use at least four strong screws of a length to go nearly through the two boards.

Mounting deer tanned

For mounting a deer scalp tanned, the preparation is very different. Scalps may be had tanned at a number of reputable fur houses throughout the country at a small cost. To get best results, send scalps and rug-skins in to the tanner with ears skinned out and eyelids and lips split and nose cartilage pared out. Tanned scalps, if kept from moths, may be preserved unmounted for a long time.

The process of mounting a tanned scalp differs from the raw in that it is set up on a wire and plaster shell, more carefully shaped than
the excelsior form. The entire scalp is stuck down to the shell with compo. No. I rubbed well into the skin and upon the shell. The face
and ears are set and finished with compo. No. II, which, as before stated, is No, I thickened to the consistency of modeling clay with plaster of paris. This method gives much finer and more permanent results.

For details of plaster and wire mannikin, see Fig. 37. This type of shell is made as follows: Set the cleaned skull upon neck-board and backboard same as for wrapping excelsior neck.

Half-inch mesh chicken wire will do, if no free mesh wire can be procured, for building the frame. The wire neck is best placed in
halves. The shaping will require considerable cutting and neat manipulation with pincers and hammer and tying with bits of wire. Use staple tacks to fasten wire to edge of back board. The wire shell should be smaller than natural neck to allow for coat of plaster and fiber. For this make up not more than half a wash basin at a time, mixing the plaster with plain water in the ordinary way. Make the, batches middling thick, enough so that it will not drizzle from the wire.

Pick a quantity of fiber into small handfuls. To apply, dip a film of the manila fiber into the plaster, drag it out over edge of dish to remove surplus plaster, and apply to wire shell.
Work fast enough to keep ahead of plaster setting. Wipe each application out smooth as you go. Apply a thin coat, very smooth, all over the skull and model on the jaw muscles with the plaster and fiber.

When plaster is set, surface the shell and remove all inequalities by paring with an ordinary small butcher-knife. Allow to thoroughly
dry and apply a good coat of medium thin shellac. Have this type of mannikin completed, dried, and shellaced before moistening and
preparing the tanned skin.

To prepare mammal skins in the field, for transportaion and keeping, remove skins carefully, same as for immediate mounting. Salt
thoroughly, rubbing in well, and roll up to drain over night. Next day shake out the first salt, which will be found saturated with juices, rub fresh salt in all over, and roll up over another night. In this condition small skins may be sealed in glass jars or friction top tins and kept damp thus for some time.

Skins should always be put through the double dry salting before going into "pickle." Keep in covered earthen jars.

For making up into rugs, send animal skins to a good tanner, first skinning out the ears and paring out lips and nose.

To make an open-mouthed rug head, use the natural skull when possible. Set the jaws open solidly with plaster of paris and at the same time lay a plaster core between lower jaw for the artificial tongue. Set the skull upon a cutout base-board as shown in Fig. 38.

Drive nails half in all around back and side edges of this base-board and wrap on filling of excelsior for jaws and flare of neck. Drive the nails down tight after wrapping is completed.

Mount the head before stretching the skin.

Use plaster and glue-water compo. as in raw deer scalp. If a snarling expression is desired, model the wrinkles on the muzzle with an edged wooden tool. Tuck the lip lining well under the filling, so they will hold in place when the plaster is set. Finish details of face same as in other mounting.

Finish the tongue and gums by melting colored wax and cotton upon core and bone with hot iron, modeling and carving to shape when
cool. After the head is mounted and set, stretch the skin. Moisten the flesh side to soften it up well.

Nail down the rear end upon floor to its widest spread, with hind legs pointing back on a slight slant. Draw the skin forward and spread forelegs and front end to widest extent and nail down in accurate line with hind part. Now work from side to side, nailing skin out to its widest extent and in symmetrical lines. Always stretch a rug-skin hair side down. A slight wash of arsenic-water may be applied after the skin is stretched and while yet moist,
care being used not to mess the hair with the solution.

When dry, the skin is ready to line. Lay the felt lining upon the floor and the skin upon it and cut around the skin, allowing three or four inches for pinked edge.

With a pinking iron cut scalloped edge and enough of a narrow strip to gather fully all around just inside the outer edge. Lay skin
on lining and mark its edge with tailor's chalk. Sew the gathered edge just inside this chalk mark so that the stitch will be covered by the skin.
Fig. 39.

Quilt skin upon the lining with a good layer of cotton wadding between. Be sure and not draw down a bunch of hair under each loop.
Tie the knots neatly on under side.

Fig. 39 shows incisions to make in removing a pelt for a symmetrical rug. Rug skins are best dried with no preservative whatever. In
drying skins, stretch them symmetrically and dry in the shade.