Whether it’s a 12- or 14-point monster, probably the trophy of a lifetime or a spindly fork horn, perhaps the very first deer taken by a beginning hunter, it may deserve a spot on the wall. According to Portage County taxidermist Paul Fedorchak, the only thing that ought to earn any deer a trip to the wall ought to be the memories it will hang on its antlers, not the number of points.
“I just got a deer in the other day that won’t meet the record book requirements but in terms of memories, it’s a real trophy for the youngster who tagged it,” Fedorchak said, adding that a trophy should be special for some reason such as a first deer, a great hunt, or maybe an adventure with a special person.
So how would one select the right taxidermist? “Look at his or her work, it’s a simple as that,” said Fedorchak.
He suggested that the price list presented by a taxidermist may be a consideration but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Look at the work, he stressed again. Look at the details such as the eyes, the nostrils, the facial expression and the pose or positioning of the head — those are the things that determine the end result, which should be a mount that looks alive.
Cheap and quick aren’t always good things when it comes to top shelf trophy mounts. Fedorchak recommends that the first timer spend some time visiting with the taxidermist to decide on the right pose and to discuss the methods used in mounting a trophy. That way, a hunter stands the best chance of getting a mounted trophy that he can be proud of for decades.
Fedorchak said that hunters deserve to feel confident that the mount will look good for years. He said there has been a growing interest in nontraditional trophy mounts, such as European style mounts which are simply antlers attached to the bare skull of a deer. Specialists use Dermestid beetles to scour the skull to the bone. The skull is often mounted to a wood stand or plaque for display.
Another choice which is popular, especially when space is a consideration, is antlers mounted to a wood shield which can be hung for display. However, Fedorchak said, full shoulder taxidermy mounts are by far the most requested by successful hunters because of the life-like appearance and the adventure they represent.
So what about Pappy’s 1972 buck, that dusty deer head that continues to hold court in the den? Fedorchak said old mounts can be cleaned and spruced up to some degree with special cleaners and some minor airbrush touch-ups. Fedorchak suggested hunters who are thinking about having a trophy mount done keep the cape and head frozen. If it’s not frozen it may be ruined beyond repair in a matter of days, he said.
(Readers may contact this writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.)