How to Cut Deer Antlers, Clean Bear Skulls & Cape Elk Skins: The Art of Taxidermy
There's three types of animal lovers in the world.
The first are your basic pet owners. The ones with a cat or dog in the home, meant to be their cuddly companion. They love and adore it and consider it a member of the family.
The second are animal rights activists. They tend to believe that all animals should be treated equal, human and non-human alike. Now, this type of animal lover can also be a pet owner like above, but they would never be the third option...
The animal lovers who love trophies. These are hunters, the type who get a sense of accomplishment and power after shooting a wild buck or jackrabbit or alpine ibex. They receive utter satisfaction from their kill hanging above the fireplace mantle, a symbol of their prowess.
But just because a hunter can hunt, doesn't mean he knows what it takes to get that deer head or deer antlers into an aesthetically pleasing position on the wall of their den, for all to see, enjoy and prattle on about.
That's where the taxidermist comes into play. A taxidermist is an artist, skilled in the practice of taxidermy, where they prepare, stuff and mount the skins and heads of animals with lifelike effect. And their work goes unappreciated most of the time. But not now. Not thanks to Mr. Kim J. Mikules of TaxidermyOutdoors.
He's made a bunch of how-to videos for "hunters, the do-it-yourself person, guides, collectors, beginning taxidermists, the young and of course the seasoned person."
Below are just a few of his videos, outlining some of the techniques used to clean, cape and cut those deers, along with bears, bucks, antelopes, pronghorns, elks and more into ornamental wall art.
This video provides explicit instructions, along with tips, general techniques and more information on cutting antlers for the head for an antler mount or a shoulder mount, to antler definitions, to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
This video gives a short lesson cleaning skulls. It's the basic foundation needed to clean skulls for display, Europeans mounts and so forth. It's short and basic, but provides a wealth of information and money saving tips and techniques. There's no need for dangerous chemicals or a professional taxidermist! Save the cash!
Those deer antlers are wonderful, aren't they. Some of you probably like deer antler spray even better, but that's a whole different discussion. This video will show you how to clean deer antlers, showing you the basics on how to safely remove the blood, dirt and grime from elk, deer, moose or any other type of antler. Use these techniques and your trophy antlers will be clean, sanitary and acceptable to all without smell or unsightly stains from the hunt. It's a simple and easy process!
Sometimes an antler will break. It happens. But you can save them with this video, which shows a quick and easy way to repair deer antlers. The same method can be used to repair elk, caribou, moose and other types of antlers. Great for the DIY taxidermist.
This is a two-parter, focusing on the cape of a pronghorn. This lesson gives you the basic, but explicit instructions, along with ideas and tips, for skinning game heads so the hunter can take a good specimen to their taxidermist. Three basic methods can be applied to deer, elk, caribou or any other suitable animal.
In this video, you'll learn the techniques used to measure capes of pronghorns, mule deer, bull elks and antelopes. Learn the correct measurements, what is needed and some general tips, techniques and pitfalls to avoid.
The ivory from elk is a very valuable part to your trophy. Elk ivory is also known as the bugle teeth or the buglers, or the whistle teeth or the whistlers, and they are sometimes referred to as the eye teeth. Regardless of the terminology, at a current market value of $15 to $30 each, why throw the ivories away?
A successful hunter can make rings, necklaces and more from this much sought after product. Or, you could always sell them (legally, of course) to offset the cost of your hunting adventures. Most people will keep them. Some collect them. Others don't want them. The choice is always yours.
If you're interested in preserving your skins, this video talks about what salt to use, how to hang the hide skin or cape, what to do and things not to do. Also, see where you can buy the salt, how to store it and a lot more!
Cockleburs are a pain in the ass. Why else do you think they're called cockleburs? They tend to get stuck in bear skins, but the burs can also get stuck in deer, elk and other animal hair. Learn how to get those pesky stickies out!
Removing the fat and flesh from a bear hide is essential. A fleshing machine is a very useful tool in every taxidermy shop. This video gives a brief demonstration of what a fleshing machine can do and explains what needs to be done after the fleshing and washing of a skin.
From the hobby taxidermist to the full time professional, a fleshing machine is a mandatory investment if you do any type of serious tanning and fleshing of skins, hides and capes. The machine is a real time saver and quickly pays for itself the first year in a busy taxidermy shop or for anyone that tans a lot of skins.
Take care of that bear hide! Tanning skins, making rugs or mounting a life-sized bear, it all starts with the "grub work." There are no exceptions. The hunter, guide, beginning taxidermist and the DIY person need to do a good job of quality skin preparation.
This is a discourse on working with bear skins. This video teaches the many tips and techniques, while stressing the importance of fleshing, cleaning and salting the bear skin. Many examples and tricks of the trade are included.
For more taxidermy tips, check out WonderHowTo's Hunting & Taxidermy videos.