Securing Deer Antlers Using The Four Screw Rule

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Securing Deer Antlers

Over this past summer the phone rang here at my taxidermy lab and on the other end was a worried voice.  The caller stated that their deer head fell off the wall and now they had a loose antler. They assured me that they believed the skull cap cracked under the cape but were lost for words on way it wobbled but yet still seemed to be attached. I replied by stating that their problem is probably due to how their taxidermist is securing deer antlers. Immediately their replay was “what do mean securing antlers?” At that moment I remembered that most people think we use the whole skull of the deer when mounting deer and not just the skull cap.

After explaining that their taxidermist could most likely fix the problem I was then informed their taxidermist, the one who mounted the deer was no longer in business. The caller couldn’t understand why they went of the business because their deer mounting price was the best in town. Once I learned about the taxidermist who went of business only charged their clients $350 to mount deer I didn’t need to hear any more on why someone with great taxidermy prices could possibly go out of business.

Once I informed the caller it would be a minimum of $100 to walk that deer head into my shop just for me to look at it and possibly do something to fix it, the phone call abruptly ended. Every taxidermist I know who has been in business for some time has received this type of phone call more than once.

I don’t have a clue what the taxidermy schools of today are teaching their students when it comes to securing deer antlers to the deer form. I really don’t and what they teach is their business. However I do have a sneaky suspicion that most taxidermists today secure their deer antlers using only 2 or 3 screws at most. Which is more than enough to hold the antlers in place, but I can tell you right now that it could be recipe for disaster down the road for your client. I can actually count on one hand who has told me over the years that they use and would also recommend the 4 screw rule when securing deer antlers.

If the skull cap under the clay and cape would to ever split down the center (weakest part of the cap) and you used four screws, chances of it wobbling or becoming loose will be very slim to none. Don’t ever take for granted that the hardened clay and dried cape over the skull cap will be enough to keep everything in place by getting away with using 2 or 3 screws. One good bang and it can all come apart.

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CJ Herring
With over 20 years in the industry CJ Herring has dedicated his life to the art of taxidermy. He is a taxidermy journalist and contributing writer for TTN News and is the founder of the Taxidermy Journal. Licensed and certified CJ has experience in all phases of taxidermy. From small animals to full body mounts along with birds and fish. CJ specializes in turkey taxidermy, whitetails, cold and warm water fish taxidermy, along with any and all small mammal taxidermy.

1 COMMENT

  1. I agree. I never understood using only two drywall screws to secure deer antlers and three for elk. I actually have DVDs from award winning taxidermists that use two for deer and three for elk. I use four 3″ or longer industrial grade timber-lok screws, which are rated the equivalent of 1/4″ lag bolts on deer and five 3/8″ lag bolts for elk. The antler will break off the skull plate in a fall off the wall because it is impossible for the skull plate to move.

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