After spending the hours or days it takes to harvest your buck, the last thing you want is a terrible mount. No one wants their buck to be an example of terrible taxidermy. While finding a taxidermist whose work you respect is an important element for preserving your trophy, that is just the first step. Whether this is your first trophy or your twentieth, here’s how to choose the best pose for your next mount. Many hunters have no idea what their options are when they walk into a taxidermy shop: here’s how to be the exception.
Know where your buck is going to live
A mounted buck should look out into a room, not a wall. In a room of trophies, usually all of the mounts will look toward the center of the room. Pedestal mounts have a bit more flexibility, but it is best to have an idea of where your finished trophy will go before you walk into the shop. Your taxidermist needs to know the direction your buck should turn.
Do your homework
Look at available mounting styles before taking your trophy to the taxidermist. Any good taxidermist is likely to be busy. Taking the time to look at your options not only prepares you, but also shows the taxidermist that you understand what you want. McKenzie Taxidermy Supply has an online catalog that is a great place to check out different poses. Knowing what you want when you walk in can even get you your buck back more quickly.
Know your poses
Semi-sneak: The most realistic, natural look for a mount. Very popular position.
Full sneak: A relaxed pose, good for rooms with low ceilings because of the lower head position. Good for showing off muscle lines.
Upright: An alert pose, but be careful. Too upright and stretched with no turn in the neck creates what taxidermists call the “bar look” because the deer can sometimes look too rigid. You might want to ask for something different than straight on and upright.
Pedestal: Pedestal mounts come in both wall and floor/table pedestal styles. These have become popular over the past few years because this pose makes your trophy look more approachable. You will need about 4 to 6 inches more of the shoulder when caping your buck if this is the mount type you want.
*Final Note: A turn in your mount looks much more natural, plus deer usually don’t look at a hunter straight on. When talking about the turn, use the head direction of the deer toward its shoulder. For example, if the deer’s head looks toward the right shoulder, it is a right turn mount.
Bucks do have a best side
A good taxidermist will want to show off your buck to best advantage, highlighting cheaters or a bigger fork in the antlers. Many hunters ask to have the buck look like it did at harvest, though sometimes this position can make the buck look less impressive. Talk with your taxidermist about what makes the most sense for yours.
Personality is in the details
Ear positions, facial expressions and form modifications make each mount look unique. For a special buck, plan to invest a little more to have your taxidermist recreate facial expressions that capture your hunt conditions. Maybe your buck was in the rut: sculpting the face a bit, adding a furrowed brow, closing the eyes and having the ears lay back over the neck can recreate a buck about to fight. In general, many hunters want a relaxed, noble pose for their bucks, says Jeremy Chamberlain of Braggin’ Rights Taxidermy. “It gives [the buck] a little bit of a confident look,” he explains, especially when combined with the curious, alert look that posing one ear back and one ear forward gives.
Leave ear positioning to the expert
Describe the way you want your buck to present itself. This will determine how the taxidermist positions the ears. An alert mount will have the ears forward and eyes open a bit wider.
A more casual mount will have the ears set back and dropped, with the eyes relaxed, and even half-closed. Ears positioned completely back can give that angry look of a buck in the rut.
Tell your story
“It’s always fun to hear the story and the emotion that comes from the guy,” Chamberlain says of his clients. Explain what is special about this particular buck to you: maybe it was a great hunting trip or maybe it’s your kid’s first harvest. “The more emotion you show to your taxidermist, the cooler it’s going to be for them,” explains Chamberlain.
Got any more advice for picking the perfect pose for your buck? Leave suggestions in the comments below.