When I look at the game mounts on my walls throughout my home and office, I do not consider them decorations. They are memories that allow me to re-live the hunt.
Each time I look at a particular mount, I’m able to remember the specific details of the hunt. I know when and where it was killed, the weather conditions, what the animal was doing that lead up to the shot, the tracking job, who I was with, and more.
But, accidents happen, and mounts can be damaged. Unfortunately, I have had my share of damaged mounts throughout the years. Most of the time the damaged happened during transit, and I even had a couple fall from the wall because of a lightning strike that was a little too close for comfort. Fortunately, though, taxidermists are artists, and most damaged mounts can be repaired to look like new.
The best thing that could happen is that you will never be in a situation that puts you in need of a repair job, but things do happen. Once the professional has returned the finished taxidermy back to you, it is in your hands to reduce the chances of damage later on.
The first thing to do is make sure the work is displayed in an area with little change in temperature and humidity. Also, keep the mount out of direct sunlight.
Too many mounts are damaged before they even make it to the trophy room. Before transporting, make certain you have a plan on getting your trophy home and into your trophy room without causing any damage. A whitetail buck shoulder mount is often as simple as carrying it in, and placing it on the wall.
But, for bigger shoulder mounts like elk or moose, or full-body mounts, you may have to remove doors and have dollies available to get the animal inside. Knowing what needs to be done before the mount arrives will lessen the chances of damaging the mount.
A good mount should last a lifetime, but there are a few things you should do to help it along. I have already mentioned the precautions to take as far as temperatures, humidity and direct sunlight that could bleach the hide. You also need to look over each mount you bring in for insect damage. One hide with bugs could easily cause an infestation spreading from mount to mount, ruining them all.
It makes me sick to my stomach to see antlers of a big whitetail damaged by a stray bullet, or by any other method.
A few years ago, my sister show a nice 10-point whitetail. The big buck was hanging in the garage behind the closed overhead door. During the evening hours, another member of our deer campo attempted to open the garage door from the outside. Forgetting the buck was hanging, the young hunter used a little extra force to raise the door when the first attempt failed. Hearing a loud thud as the buck slammed to the concrete floor, the hunter suddenly remembered there had been a buck hanging. Several inches of antler broke off of one side of the rack
Thankfully, taxidermists are good at their craft, and can often fix such mishaps. If at all possible, it is best for the hunter to take any pieces of the broken antler to the taxidermist.
Depending on where the damage to the mount occurred has a lot to do with how difficult it will be to repair. An old cape is going to be harder to repair than chipped paint on the tip of the nose.
Capes that are falling apart can still be fixed. However, it will normally require a cleaning, new paint and finishing work. But, if the workmanship was poor from the beginning there might be little a person can do to salvage the mount.
There are times that the cape can’t be saved, and a new one will have to be put on. The cape rarely matters. Unless you tell, nobody will know it is a replacement as they stare at the antlers.
Whitetail capes are easy to come by, and will not cost lots of money. However, the harder it is to find size of cape you need, the more it will cost.
Like the repairs my sister had to have done on her big buck, antlers and horns can easily be repaired under most circumstances. It often depends on the severity of the damage. Resins are often used to fix the damage. Sometimes replications have to be casted to replace the damaged ones. The expense can be small for an easy repair, to very expensive for a replica.
If the damage is done to the form of the mount, it can take a lot of money and time before it can be repaired. It could require a complete remount, including ear liners and eyes.
As you already know, a taxidermist is not cheap, and like most things in life, you get what you pay for. However, a professional will do what he or she can to save what they can from the original mount while trying their best to keep the cost down. Just remember, a taxidermist still has to make a living.
For example, a complete remount will be the cost of an original mount, plus the price for a cape. This will easily be several hundred dollars. But, a simple antler repair might be less than a hundred dollars.
Hopefully you will never need a repair job on a prized mount. Especially if you take measures to ensure its safety. But, if you need work done, it is nice to know it is readily available.