Black horns on mounted trophies... Is this a normal?

Discussion in 'Taxidermy' started by BCHunter, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. BCHunter

    BCHunter New Member

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    I had my 10 species of game mounted in South Africa. When they arrived back here in Canada, I was surprised that all the horns had turned completely BLACK.
    Is this a normal thing to happen? Or is the taxidermist at fault?
    I realize that it is too late to do anything about it now, but am going to Zambia this year and would like to avoud this happening again.
    Would like the horns to stay their natural colour.
  2. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Welcome to AH

    sometimes it just pays to bring your animals back to the states to have the correct color.

    depending on what is done to the skulls, like boiling in water over on open fire pit. Usually a 5 or 55 gallon barrel cut in half and your horns extend out the side and some times get kind of burnt. if your horns did extended outside At that time they are heat burnt and soot black, and they would need to be cleaned.

    I walked back to the skinning shed to see the operation at the different camps i have been to and they are all different. different countries different process from what i seen.
  3. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Welcome to AH BCHunter! I've had my Trophies mounted in South Africa twice by the same Taxidermist the first time I let him know that I wanted the horns to look natural so all he did is clean them the second time I forgot to tell him and he painted them black still don't look bad but I would have perfered they be natural. The same thing happened to my Bison I had mounted in Colorado when I got it back the taxidermist had painted it flat black it didn't look natural or good so I took some sandpaper and removed the paint, looks much better. Maybe some of the taxidermist we have on here could give you some ideas to safely remove the paint without hurting the horns bison have ruff horns anyways so the sandpaper made them look good. Be sure to tell your taxidermist that you want them left natural. Bob
  4. owenowen

    owenowen AH Veteran

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    Hi there,

    Sorry to hear about your trophies. Over at our taxidermist the hunter gets asked if they want to keep it natural or painted. Unfortunately it seems to me that only recently most hunters take painted ones and due to this many taxidermist don't always ask the clients anymore which they prefer and just by "default" paint them black and ship them off, which in my view is wrong and doesn't look as good.
  5. Wolverine67

    Wolverine67 AH Fanatic

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    I also think its a matter of conservation, since it looks like they use some sort of insect repellent. My eland was also treated that way, but they used something to sand down the ridges so it looks natural. It may also help the horns from getting to dry and crack up. Give it some time and it will look more natural.
  6. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I could not agree more with you!
  7. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    May not be too late.

    Way better to have treated horns that get past the CFIA and to your house than costing you to get them fumigated, etc. to get rid of the bugs or refused entry.

    I thought that all my horns were "painted".
    In fact it was an oily insecticide. The horns looked black.
    I washed them off with soapy HOT water and they all look quite natural now.

    Usual precautions.
    (Rubber gloves, mask, outside, plastic scrub brush)
    (Thanks to Diamondhitch for the education)

    With your next sets of trophies make sure the person who packs the shipment puts in a ton of moth balls.
    It does not do much for the bugs but it wards off CFIA! :)
    If it stinks like moth balls they will not likely dig to far.
  8. JNHall

    JNHall AH Senior Member

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    The horns for all my mounts (impala shoulder and euro, euro blue wildebeest, euro kudu) came back black and cracked as well. I figured it was normal but I really wasn't super thrilled. I ended up polishing my kudu horns because I really wanted that granite-like figure and polish.

    [​IMG]

    Now I realize a lot of people would prefer to keep the horns natural, but if I'm lucky I've got plenty of time to get a second kudu and keep it natural. If I get any shoulder mounts next time, I will request a 'natural' look especially for the Nyala. The euros I'd say make 'em black so they'll at least match the others.

    Attached Files:

  9. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    The polished look doesn't look bad and depending on the Decor of your home it could fit in quite nicely. and as for the Nyala that was the one animal that he did not paint he didn't want to take away from the ivory tips.
  10. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Interesting post, I have never seen them polished like that.
  11. 1ObsessedHunter

    1ObsessedHunter AH Veteran

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    I'm glad to have seen this thread becuase I too wondered why many mounts I've seen had black horns. I wasn't sure if it was the norm to paint the horns. With my trophies currently in process I'll make sure to tell my taxidermist to leave them natural. I really don't like the black. Why would it even be done in the first place?
  12. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    To cover up terrible taxidermy work, my honest opinion. People get super sloppy boiling skulls and the horns get wrecked.
    I have done my own European mounts and have never had to color the horns or worry about a cracked skull.
  13. ActionBob

    ActionBob AH Veteran

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    Wow I really appreciate this information as well.
    Thanks all!
  14. Kapraun Wildlife Studios

    Kapraun Wildlife Studios AH Member

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    BCHunter,

    If your trophies are already mounted, its going to be tricky to clean the horns up and restore them to their original color. Most mounted trophies out of Africa are mounted to where the horns slip off the cores -for shipping purposes. If this is the case then do as Brickburn described and put the horns in a tub of hot soapy water -dawn dish soap is good and water temp to where you can still get your hands in the water without being burned. Then start scrubbing with a wire brush in the tub. The horns if they are painted or had some sort of oil applied to them use a solvent like lacquer thinner and a wire brush and scrub it off as well. Keep scrubbing until you get the desired color you want.

    A lot of this comes from over boiling the horns off the skulls and where the grease and fats from the skull float on top of the water and the porous horn soaks in that fat and grease from the boiling. This causes discoloration and is touched up with black paint, etc.

    If your horns are attached to the mount you will have to cover the mount in plastic to mask off the animal exposing the horns then use some lacquer thinner and a wire brush and scrub and wipe excess off with a shop towel.

    After the horns are dry you can rub some natural dry dirt that matches the color-tan/red, ect of the original horns to, this helps to get a more natural look then blow off the excess and if you want to seal them in a clear matte sealer spray can.
    If the horns are really bad they would need to have some airbrush painting done to them.

    Basically you have to play around with it until you get the desired results and this can be very time consuming!

    Hope this helps you guys out there!
  15. Johnny7604

    Johnny7604 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    Wow, what process did you use to polish the horns like that? What a fantastic way to display a euro mount.

    Well done!

    John
  16. gutterdoc

    gutterdoc AH Senior Member

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    I agree! Nice touch! Please explain the process or who offers this service.
  17. accipiter

    accipiter AH Senior Member

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    Do the horns get painted in the dip and pack process? If I just get dip/pack do I have to request no paint?
  18. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    No, horns are usually not painted in a dip and pack operation.
  19. Divernhunter

    Divernhunter AH Veteran

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    I am having all mine done here in the USA. My euro mounts were done natural. I will also have the shoulder mounts done the same. They will be started in Aug. When they are done I plan to post photos and hope that my SCI record book ranking come back by then so I can post that with them.
  20. ActionBob

    ActionBob AH Veteran

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    I posed this question to the Taxidermist in RSA who has my trophies and let them know I want them to remain very natural looking. This is the responce....

    Normally we oil the horns with a WD40 oil which is accessible in the USA and this is just to nourish the horns as you would wooden furniture. The colour does appear darker at first but as the oil seeps into the horns the darkness does fade, however if you do not want this no problem we will just leave it off. We do not make any alterations to the horns unless specified by the client so all cracks and imperfections will be seen.

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