For several years I have had a personal aversion to people who take success photos in the back of a truck. In my opinion, a success photo of a harvest should be the hunter with the animal at the exact or nearby location of the harvest, while also wearing their Mossy Oak camo and with the gun or bow they used when the animal was harvested.
Taking the time to place these items in the photo shows respect for the animal; it also tells the hunt story that can be reminisced about years later.
The same distaste for success truck photos also goes to those who throw antlers from their harvest in a box in a garage or barn, acting as if it is no big deal - any place in which they are out of sight and out of mind, never to be looked at again. Like that of a good photo, it is essential to respect the animal and display the trophy where memories and stories can be told for years to come.
Over the past few years, I have become a tremendous fan of the European-style skull mounts for deer, elk, and other big game, primarily because of my above rant. A skull mount looks good, it's a new fad, and it is much better than laying them to the side and forgetting about the animal, as well as the hunt.
The skull mount has been around for years, so why is it just now the cool thing to do among big game hunters?
When I harvested my first mature buck at a younger age, I immediately knew I wanted to have a shoulder mount done. After checking with my local taxidermist, I realized I was going to need to save my money. As often comes with living in a small rural town, there are so-called perks; this was no different. My taxidermist knew my family and made a deal with me. If I could come up with $100 to put down as a deposit, I could pay the other $250 when it was done. Again, as a young man, I was excited and agreed. For the next 4 ½ to 5 months, I saved my money and was able to buy my first shoulder mount.
Sadly, after getting my mount back, I did what a lot of hunters have done. I assumed that I wouldn't have another one done unless it were a trophy. A few years later, I heard someone say, "if it was a good enough trophy to harvest the animal, then be proud of it."
A skull mount or as many refer to as a European mount is perfect for the sportsman who loves hunting. It doesn't cost as much, it takes up less room, and it doesn't take as long to get back the mount. These three factors, along with the creativity that has been shown with skull mounts, are why I think they have gained such popularity in recent years.
Cost Is Less
When I was younger and saved to pay for a shoulder mount, the cost was $350. As a young man and a small-town country boy, that was a lot of money. Today, the cost of shoulder mount styles has increased tremendously. The average cost in the United States to have a shoulder mount for a white-tailed deer is a minimum of $500, typically being closer to $600. However, the average cost for a skull mount is only $150 and includes a plaque or other mount. If wanting only the skull mount done by itself, it is closer to $75.
For the serious hunter who consistently harvests a mature buck each year, it's easy to see that it can become costly. Plus, the space that full shoulder mounts take up is much more compared to skull mounts.
Quick Turnaround On Mounts
Another reason skull mounts are popular is how quickly the turnaround is. When having a shoulder mount done, it usually takes several months of preparation before it is finished. To put it in a hunter's perspective, you harvest the buck in the fall and then wait until about the same time as spring turkey season before it is ready from the taxidermist. It is almost long enough that it is rewarding to see the buck again, because you forgot how he looked.
When having a skull mount done, it can be as soon as a few days until the mount is complete. I have always enjoyed this aspect because the hunt's excitement and the harvest are still pumping through your veins compared to a few months when your focus has drifted on to other things such as turkey hunting or spring fishing.
After questioning a few taxidermists in my home state, they somewhat agreed that the popularity of skull mounts has increased over the past 10 to 12 years. Yet, they say they still have a much higher number of shoulder mounts, saying that the average would be close to 40 skull mounts compared to 150 shoulder mounts in one year.
The most significant impact of a quick turnaround is from the do-it-yourself people or individuals who do skull mounts as an extra income side job. The area where I live is made up of several small rural towns. Over the past three years, I know of five individuals who get close to 40 or 50 mounts to do each season. Some have a bug box to set the skull down in and let the bugs do the hard work, and some use a sharp knife and a power washer to clean all the skulls off before doing a whitening process to the skull. Either way, they can have them done quickly while making extra money for themselves.
The last reason I think the European skull mounts have gained popularity is because of the endless options of displaying the trophy.
There are many options for how to display skull mounts. I have come across mounts displayed by simply laying them on top of kitchen cabinets for decoration. I have encountered them displayed on coffee tables in recreation rooms as a conversation piece and on many different natural beauties such as old fence posts, driftwood, and handmade wooden plaques.
Another great displaying option is buying a manufactured mount to attach the skull mount. I have recently been a fan of using the Skull Hooker Wall Mount and the Skull Hooker Desk Mount. Both models make it easy to hang or display on a solid surface while staying secure and looking stylish for your friends, family, or visitors to admire.
I have used the Skull Hooker Table mount option on my desk, our kitchen table at home, and a decoration piece throughout our home. With this model, moving around in different home areas is made simple, easy, and secure to avoid any damage to the mount itself.
After putting so much thought and time into preparing for the hunt, why would anyone want to throw their antlers to the side? Being a hunter is more than just harvesting an animal; it is about respect for the harvest, making memories, showing gratitude that you were fortunate enough to bring home a trophy and having something to show for all the hours spent hunting that can be kept for years to come. Next time you are considering throwing those horns to the side, instead consider a European mount, as it is a cost-effective yet humble way to show off your harvest.