You made your food plots, checked your cameras, braved the cold and made your shot when the time came. It all came together, and the buck of a lifetime is now in the back of your truck. You keep replaying it all in your mind, and suddenly a taxidermist asks, “Do you want a full-upright mount or a semi-upright mount?” With so many taxidermy deer mounts to choose from, what do you do? There are a lot of things we consider deer hunting essentials, and knowing what goes into choosing the right deer mount is one of them.
The Place of Honor
You call home and announce to everyone that you have the number one buck on your hit list in the back of your truck. After the screaming and shouting is over, you hear your spouse ask, “Where are you going to put that thing?” Of course, the argument starts, and you finally compromise on THE spot. Is it really a good location for your deer mount, though?
If you are not careful, you can have that buck of a lifetime staring at a wall six inches from its nose. Maybe you have noticed your buddy’s 160-inch buck on a huge wall all by itself. This big bruiser of a buck now looks like any other basket-rack deer. Much like real estate, where you put your deer comes down to location, location, location. You should put as much thought into your deer mount as you do the best deer hunting rifle and ammo.
Show Off the Character of Your Buck
If you want a European deer mount, the decisions are simple. If not, the taxidermist will ask if you want the deer to look left, right or straight forward. Keep in mind that in taxidermist speak, left, right or straight ahead is as if you were the deer. In other words, a left-turned deer seems to be looking right to someone standing in front of it. Likewise, a right-turned deer seems to be looking left to someone standing in front of it. Not every taxidermist will take the time to tell you that.
You may not think much about it, but you want to show off the side of the deer with the most character. If you have a great drop-tine on the right side, you probably want a left-turned mount. Anyone looking at the deer will immediately notice the drop-tine on the exposed right side. If you have a deer with a huge spread, you probably want a forward-facing mount to emphasize the spread. Every buck is different, so take your time and picture where it will go and how best to show off its best characteristics.
You also want to consider the room and wall you plan to hang the mount. Generally speaking, you want the deer to face a doorway or the center of the room. You can see why you and the taxidermist need to be on the same page. Otherwise, the deer can look silly staring at a closet door. You should also consider what else you will put beside your new mount. Are there other deer or mounts sharing that wall? Do you want everything looking in the same direction or everything looking at the deer in the center of the wall? Hopefully, you think this through before you get to the taxidermist.
What Are Your Choices?
Knowing what direction your deer mount should face is just the first decision you have to make. Next, the taxidermist is going task you to choose from the following:
1. Full-Upright Position – The chin and nose are a few inches above the shoulder.
2. Semi-Upright Position – Chin and nose are level with the shoulder.
3. Semi-Sneak Position – Chin and nose are below the shoulder.
4. Full-Sneak Position – Head is extended straight out.
You can see from the above, where you plan to mount the deer plays big into the position you choose. Do you have the ceiling height, the lighting and furniture arrangement to support the position you want?
You may also be asked if you want the shoulders square to the wall or offset. Not every taxidermist offers offset mounts, but many do. Square to the wall means that the shoulder of the deer is square to the wall. The head may be turned, but the shoulders are square. Offset means the deer appears to be coming out of the wall at an angle. You need to know where this mount will go before you make this decision. These are important decisions to make before you get to the taxidermist. Otherwise, you may make a hasty decision you regret later.
The Attitude of the Deer Mount
You also should consider the attitude you want the taxidermist to give the mount. There are several options to consider:
1. Fully alert with ears upright and cupped forward.
2. Relaxed – often ears that are forward or back.
3. Full-Sneak with head up and alert.
4. Full-Sneak with head stretched forward.
This is all your preference. Many hunters will have the attitude of the deer match the actions that the deer displayed during the hunt. If done correctly, the attitude of the deer will memorialize the deer’s actions you observed during your hunt. Looking at the deer will forever bring back the memories of that hunt and the chess match you played with that big buck.
It’s Worth the Effort
If you wait until you’re standing in front of the taxidermist to make these decisions, it will be overwhelming. You risk having the trophy buck of a lifetime looking silly or small on your wall. When you work all year to put that buck in the back of your truck, it only makes sense to have these things worked out ahead of time. If you have to, write these decisions down and keep them in an envelope in the glove box. You can spend less time guessing at the taxidermist’s questions and more time bragging about your trophy buck.