14 September 2007

A Couple More Bear Taxidermy Tips

Posted by Darrell under: Tips & Ideas .


This Spring I took a great big bear in Alaska with my bow. I was so excited and had decided to do a full standing mount. My outfitter, who did a great job of preparing the cape, recommended a taxidermist in Junea. He suggested, and I agreed, to have the hide tanned in preparation for a full mount and then shipped back to me. We decided to not have the mount done in Juneau because the shipping cost was astronomical. I found a taxidermist, paid my deposit, and eagerly waited for my hide to arrive.

Well, just imagine my anticipation when I received an email from the taxidermist stating that my hide was on it’s way via USPS C.O.D. I was so excited. So after paying the $400+ balance (total cost $750+) on the tanning I eagerly opened the box. To my utter horror, the pads had been cut out of the paws and the paws were trimmed. 

I took the hide to my local taxidermist to see what can be done. He assures me that we can still do a full mount. We just won’t be able to do any pose where the palms show (I was planning on a standing bear taking a swipe which is now out). It will be more expensive, of course, because he is going to have to reconstruct the pads (although he assures me they won’t hold up to any close scrutiny) and my paws will be considerably smaller than they were originally. 

So, I fired an email off to the taxidermist in Juneau. He replied with the following:

Unless specifically requested for whatever reason by the customer to keep the pads attached to the hide I remove the pads from every bear that comes into my shop. It is unfortunate that the taxidermist you are using indicated that it would be more difficult to do an upright mount, on the contrary. On all my live mounts  both full and half and I do plenty of them, the pads (the bottoms of the feet) are recreated by using a two part epoxy in black or gray color and the impression of the pad is put right back into the epoxy. You would not be able to tell the real pad from the artificial pad. It makes for a cleaner transition from the pad to the hair without any stitch marks to hide.  So I disagree with your taxidermist that suggest it is far more difficult and costly to do the work. It is such a simple and quick process, it takes me about five minutes or less per foot that I don’t even think about charging extra for the procedure and you can’t tell the real one from the reproduction. If your taxidermist is telling you that it will be much more difficult and costly I suggest finding a different taxidermist to do the work for you. I can show you countless mounts that I have done this procedure on. I had a similar email from a customer about two years ago and he located a different taxidermist in his community to do the work and got the desired results. ”

I don’t know which is the best way. However, I do know that I made a big mistake. I should have talked to my taxidermist here and found out exactly how he wanted the hide and then relayed those precise requirements to my taxidermist in Juneau. 

Maybe my potential disaster can prevent you from having a similar one. So, if you take a bear, make sure and do the following before taking your trip:

  • Don’t make ANY assumptions! 
  • Talk to the taxidermist that is ultimately going to do your mount and find out how he wants the hide prepared  
  • Relay these instructions to your outfitter and/or any taxidermist that handle the hide in advance of your ultimate taxidermist
  • If you decide to keep the pads, pin a note on the pads stating that you want to keep them
  • Have the taxidermist write on the invoice slip exactly what you are going to do with the hide so their is no confusion
  • Before you cape the bear, take several measurements using a sewing tape measure including:
    • the distance from the nose to tail
    • distance from bottom of eye to end of nose
    • girth around the center of the bear
    • girth of the neck
    • width of the front paws

For more tips on preparing a bear for taxidermy check out these articles:

How to Skin A Bear

Preparing A Bear Hide For Taxidermy

6 Comments so far...

Matt Says:

14 September 2007 at 1:02 pm.

Good information and great picture!

Bryan Says:

14 September 2007 at 5:59 pm.

First off…great bear!!!

Second, thanks for the tip. I hope to go on a bear hunt someday, so that info might come in handy (I hope so!!!)

Third, I heard a tip talking with a hunter today about deer mounts. Apparently, dragging a buck a long distance can make it difficult to do a chest mount. So, if you harvest a monster this year, get a quad!

Othmar Vohringer Says:

14 September 2007 at 9:33 pm.

Good information on having your trophy preserved is important. There are many good taxidermists but there some cowboys out there that can ruin the memory of a lifetime. Great picture!

-Othmar Vohringer-

BuckNakedFever Says:

17 September 2007 at 8:45 am.

I would have been hot if I found out it wasn’t common practice to cut out the pads. Nice bear though and I like the camera angle on that pic.

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