Taxidermy growing in popularity

Some people love it, some people hate it, but decorating a home, office, or garage with mounted animals is something very important to many people.
Taxidermy has become popular over the years and even is a decorating trend according to some interior designers.
Deer and fish are the most popular mounts, but nearly any animal can be mounted to become an everyday fixture for people.
Life-like replicas are important to people for sentimental value mostly, but there are a number of reasons why people will mount animals.
Being that it’s hunting season, hunters may have a trophy deer or moose they want to mount.
It doesn’t have to be a trophy, though. Many folks will mount the first animal they harvest.
I have a set of deer shed antlers that were mounted on a deer head in my house and it looks great.
I know a deer head is not something everyone wants in their home, or even wants to talk about for that matter. You could add my mom to the top of this list, and I can respect that, but it is a way of showing respect for the animal and for the sport.
Friends of mine have mounted grouse, wolves, bears, and fish that all look great.
Taxidermists today even can build replica mounts of fish so that the fish can be released to fight another day. Anglers take photos and measurements, and a replica can be made for any species.
I caught up with Kenora-based taxidermist Andrew Percy this week, who shared some tips with me on what hunters should do to prepare their animal for the taxidermist.
Percy is a deer-mounting expert and has many years experience in building quality mounts.
“Whether it is a deer or not, an animal that is going to be mounted is an irreplaceable specimen so care must be taken to make sure that it reaches the taxidermist in the best possible shape,” Percy stressed.
Hunters, for instance, must take care in dragging their animal from the field. If at all possible, avoid dragging altogether if you plan on mounting the animal so the cape does not get any tears or holes in it from rocks or fallen trees.
Options to avoid dragging an animal from the woods include picking it up with an ATV if possible, caping and quartering the animal in the field, or simply cutting the animal in half in the field so it can be carried.
Always try to get the animal to the taxidermist as quickly as possible and keep it cold.
“Bacteria growth is the enemy that will eventually cause hair to slip and ruin the hide,” Percy noted.
“If you don’t have a cool place to store the hide for a short time, freezing will work, but I like to see the hides come in to me as soon as possible,” he added.
A misconception that many people have is that they should salt the hide.
Most taxidermists do not want the hide salted—unless the hunter is in a remote location and does not have the ability to freeze the hide, like if you were on a fly-in hunting trip in warm conditions.
The biggest mistake Percy comes across on deer that are brought into his shop is hunters cutting the hide too short.
“I like hunters to leave about six inches of hide behind the legs. This leaves me a lot to work with and makes my job easier,” he explained.
“People need to be careful skinning the animals, as well,” he noted. “I would rather people leave some meat on the hide than try to get it as clean as they can.
“I have the tools and experience to clean the hide quickly and easily without putting any holes in it.”
Finally, most taxidermists would rather do the skinning or caping around the head and antlers themselves, Percy included.
He instructs hunters to tube the deer as they skin it without making the dorsal cut along the back, and to leave about five inches of meat below the jaw so he can take appropriate measurements for the mount.
If you harvest an animal that is special to you, a taxidermist can help you remember your adventure forever.

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