Animals In Print
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June 10, 2012

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Preserve your deer hunting trophy with a mount

[Editor's Note: Nick Hromiak is a lifelong hunter and fisherman, and thus his article reflects not merely disdain for the animals slaughtered by hunters, it reflects the disdain for their corpses and the need to brag about their "victories" over defenseless animals by keeping their body parts as decorations.]

Article by Nick Hromiak,
As we enter the second and final week of the statewide rifle deer-hunting season, some of us may or may not have downed a buck. For those who haven’t and get lucky during these waning days, you may consider getting your trophy mounted by a taxidermist. If so, there are a host of considerations before and after you harvest a deer to keep in mind.

According to Bob Danenhower of Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy in Orefield, hunters should think about what they want to do with their deer before field dressing it. He says that because far too many hunters have spoiled their deer’s cape by cutting it too short, having knife cuts in the ears, bullet holes or other battle scars.

Animals in Print deer mount hunting

One associated problem, Danenhower points out, is not telling the butcher you want a shoulder mount so he knows to leave enough hide for a mount.

“I have some customers who bring the entire carcass to me before taking it to their butcher shop so I can mark the cape where it should be cut so the shop doesn’t cut too much off the neck,” says Danenhower.

Upon receiving a cape, Danenhower assesses it to see if there is any damage as he may have to charge extra to repair it from the above conditions, or, if hair is missing where it was rubbed off  by dragging it out of the woods.   

If the hunter doesn’t know the type of mount he wants or pose, be it with the ears back, ears forward, head turned to one side,  looking down, looking up or a neck instead of a shoulder mount, Danenhower may suggest a European mount that merely mounts the cleaned and bleached skull and antlers on a wooden panel.

For the undecided, Danenhower provides photographs of mounts he has done, shows taxidermy sample catalogs and brochures to aid the hunter in selecting the most desirable pose that emphasizes the deer’s’ most prominent features (such as a drop tine).

Before the hunter leaves his shop, Danenhower requires a signature on a form that states the hunter legally harvested the deer. Then he requires a deposit as he has over a $160 investment before he ever begins the mounting process. This amount includes (aside from the material) extensive work on the head and hide to remove fat and any liquid, plus salting it (to preserve it) before he sends it off to Keystone Furs in Gettysburg who tans all his animal hides. 

Animals in Print deer mount hunting
Animal head mountings or other taxidermy procedures in the making.

Prior to ordering a foam form for a deer, Danenhower says he takes several measurements from the eyes to the nose, nose to the back of neck, girth and height. “Despite this, sometimes I have to carve the form to fit the cape,” he explains. 

While the finished product may not seem like a lot of work, Danenhower says a single standard mount normally takes 7-8 cumulative hours for completion after he gets the hides back from the tannery. Because of this wait for the tanned hides, customers can expect to get their trophies back within 8-12 months. “Sometimes sooner, sometimes a little later,” said Danenhower who adds that the reason for the latter is that there may be a delay in receiving the hide or his form supplier may not have a certain pose in stock.
So far this season the veteran taxidermists’ Orefield shop is bustling with business. And in this sour economy, that is a pleasant surprise. After all, a trophy mount is a good way to relive the hunt and cherish the deer hunting tradition.

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Go on to Day-old calves being lined up and shot DEAD just because they're male 
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