Monday, January 19, 2009

Mounting Deer Antlers

Back in December, David and I finished a project that has been gathering dust for over a year. He had bought the Van Dyke's Taxidermy Kit at Cabela's and we were ready to mount one of his two racks. I'll have to share some other time about his first three years of deer hunting. How at age 12, he began a three year span: used 4 bullets and brought home 4 deer: a 10-point, two anterless, and one 8-point.

We decided to mount the 8-point as it had a larger spread.

We began by opening the Van Dyke's Taxidermy Kit.

The kit comes with everything you need: a pseudo-wood plaque, plastic skull cover, upholstery brads, hanging bar and nails, gold decorative cord, and instructions.

The first thing we had to do was to re-cut the skull. When we had taken the deer to the processors, they had quickly cut the antlers off using a mini chain saw. To do the mount right we had to cut a little closer to the base of the antlers. We started out using a hacksaw, and quickly found out that a hacksaw just wouldn’t hack it.

That’s when we graduated to power tools. I found out that a “fast metal” blade in a saber saw worked just fine. We discovered an interesting fact. Cutting through bone has the unpleasant affect of reminding you of getting your teeth drilled. The aroma of charred bone.

After the cutting was done, the second step was to mount the antlers to the plaque using the supplied screws. We found that the screws they gave us were too short (I mean, this was a big rack!), so I substituted longer sheet rock screws I had.

We drilled pilot holes first (another trip to the dentist), and then fastened the antlers securely.

The hardest part was fitting the plastic skull cap over the antlers. Since the kit is made for all deer mounts, one should expect to have to do a bit of customization. We spent quite a bit of time cutting the holes bigger (did I mention this was one big deer?) and finally got it to fit. Fortunately, I had a heavy-duty pair of wire snips that were able to cut the thick plastic easily. (I wouldn’t have wanted to try this with only scissors.) Realize that this will take awhile, and be willing to take your time. A little bit of patience at this point will pay off with a mount you can enjoy for many years. After we had the fit the way we wanted it, we fastened the cap down with the supplied brass upholstery brads.

Van Dyke’s includes an order form for a brass plaque that they will engrave (up to 3 lines) and ship to you for under $4.00. Van Dyke’s also has instructions on their website for those who want to try mounting their antlers without a kit. I would recommend doing your first mount using a kit. Then you will have a better idea if you’re up to the challenge of doing it all yourself the next time.

David’s trophy proudly hanging in his room.