After the Shot | Choosing a Taxidermist

A mature Buck I harvested in 2011

A mature Buck I harvested in 2011

I hope at some point during this year’s hunting season you will have an opportunity at harvesting a large whitetail buck, black bear, or some of the various species of waterfowl that migrate through North Carolina. I am a firm believer that a hunt is not measured by the trophy harvested, rather than the memories made while afield. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a well-decorated trophy wall. Here are a few things to keep in mind when taking an animal to the taxidermist and what to do immediately after the shot.

The first order of business after tagging any trophy animal is to consider what needs to be done if you wish to have the animal mounted by a taxidermist. When skinning the animal, make sure you save enough hide to cover whatever type of mount you would like. For example, a regular pedestal mounts for a buck needs more hide than a regular shoulder mount. Most hunters don’t know how they will mount the animal immediately after it is harvested, so make sure you save enough for various types of mounts. The same is applied to full body mounts for black bears or wild turkey during the spring. In these cases it may be best to take the whole animal to the taxidermist and let them cape out the hide themselves.

When choosing a form, take the time to carefully plan out where you intend on placing the mount. Deer mounts in the upright or alert position take up much more room on a wall than those in a ‘sneak’ position. Newer taxidermy forms almost always feature a form looking left, straight ahead, and to the right positions. In this case, if possible, make sure to place the animal looking towards the center of the room. This is one of those things you tend to neglect until you get your trophy home only to find out he is looking directly into the adjacent wall.

A Edgecombe County Bucks

A few Edgecombe County Bucks

Also take into consideration that your trophy may have unusual characteristics such as a non-typical set of antlers. In this case, choose a mount that depicts the buck in a favorable way from various angles for all to see.

Lastly, don’t chose a taxidermist by their turn-around rate. It’s great to have your trophy back in 3 months but not if it sacrifices the quality of the mount. You will have that trophy forever, so make sure you find a taxidermist who does quality work, even if it takes longer than you’d like.

Sit still, hunt safe, and shoot straight!


Andrew Walters


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