Cape Buffalo Mount Question

Yes, it is a soft boss bull, I see that now. The quality of the photo on the ground was not very good. Those bosses were too good to be true. Soft boss I mistook for mud on hard boss. My PH won't let me shoot a soft boss bull.
 
I’m torn: On the one hand, the scar in the left boss looks the same, but the right boss looks different.
 
It’s the same Buffalo. The boss was a touch soft and they over boil the hell out of them which tears them up further. I bet only 1 in 10 Buffalo arrive at my studio without major damage that has to be repaired, if that. It’s up to the taxidermist to repair it to look like it originally did. Very few give enough of a crap to get pictures and do it properly to rebuild the bosses.
 
It’s the same Buffalo. The boss was a touch soft and they over boil the hell out of them which tears them up further. I bet only 1 in 10 Buffalo arrive at my studio without major damage that has to be repaired, if that. It’s up to the taxidermist to repair it to look like it originally did. Very few give enough of a crap to get pictures and do it properly to rebuild the bosses.
May be a stupid question, but since you are one of our resident gurus, how is there enough hide to cover where the soft bosses were? I have never paid too much attention to caping, but on my hard bossed buff they seem to cape just right up to the boss and seemingly no extra hide to work with. My feeble mind wants to know. :)
 
If I am not mistaken almost none of the original skull is used in a skin mount, it is a fibre glass hollow case to which your horns are attached and the cape put over the form. So I very much doubt they will look identical, call it artistic license to present a great mount. What you have looks really good and your imagination will fill the gaps after a Scotch or two.
 
May be a stupid question, but since you are one of our resident gurus, how is there enough hide to cover where the soft bosses were? I have never paid too much attention to caping, but on my hard bossed buff they seem to cape just right up to the boss and seemingly no extra hide to work with. My feeble mind wants to know. :)
The short answer is there isn’t. The developing horn around the bosses is boiled off as well as some of the actual hard horn. This leaves a gap. The quickest way to solve this and what many do is simply fill that gap with a filler material ( think sand mixed with Elmer’s glue type thing) this fills the gap and when painted looks like skin. This is why the bosses look so different between the trophy pics and the mount.
Rebuilding the boss takes time and a lot of effort using either bondo or fiberglass. I prefer fiberglass as it can be colored during the mixing to give a good base to build color upon. It’s much more labor intensive, for which you really don’t get paid, but it is the proper way to do it. ( Admittedly not the only good way but none I’ve used or seen is any quicker) Then you can go around the edge with the filler and blend the hide into the boss and have the correct look after painting.
 
If I am not mistaken almost none of the original skull is used in a skin mount, it is a fibre glass hollow case to which your horns are attached and the cape put over the form. So I very much doubt they will look identical, call it artistic license to present a great mount. What you have looks really good and your imagination will fill the gaps after a Scotch or two.
The skull cap is used but not the whole skull.
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May be a stupid question, but since you are one of our resident gurus, how is there enough hide to cover where the soft bosses were? I have never paid too much attention to caping, but on my hard bossed buff they seem to cape just right up to the boss and seemingly no extra hide to work with. My feeble mind wants to know. :)
Almost the entire boss on this buffalo was boiled off. We rebuilt this using fiberglass.
IMG_5006.jpeg
 
May be a stupid question, but since you are one of our resident gurus, how is there enough hide to cover where the soft bosses were? I have never paid too much attention to caping, but on my hard bossed buff they seem to cape just right up to the boss and seemingly no extra hide to work with. My feeble mind wants to know. :)

While not the "resident expert" you were inquiring with ;), the section of hide right in the middle of the skull actually has a very steep valley to it, thus there is a little more hide up each side of the valley than the appearance from straight-on angle.
In this mount, you can see the valley has now been flattened, allowing the hide with hair to spread out horizontally and to cover more area before meeting the filler of the soft boss area.

For what it's worth, I also believe both cape and horns are the originals.
 
The roll of skin between and around bosses is something akin to cartilage. It is separate from both horn and hide. I watched my tracker pull it off when cleaning my bull's skull. It pulled away from both horn and hide in a light colored thick rubbery flap of t-shaped flesh. It was not boiled away. I have to wonder if it couldn't be tanned for a shoulder mount rather than having that area rebuilt with bondo, etc.?
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The flap in between can absolutely be tanned. That’s poor skinning practice. It’s like any other bovine or sheep. That hide between the horns can be fleshed and tanned as long as it’s attached or kept with the cape when it goes to the tannery. The fact is, there is a lot of misconception across the globe when it comes to skinning and trophy prep. Capes from anywhere range from very good to absolute crap depending on how it was cared for in the field. This is caused by a variety of factors ranging from laziness and/or incompetence to environmental factors out of everyone’s control.
 
Definitely a soft bossed bull with that soft boss being boiled away.
Your buddy has good reason to go back and hunt a dugga boy;)
 
I have found that the skulls are often boiled in camp by the skinners. If the taxidermist doesn't have a picture of the buff he can only work with what he gets.
I hear about over boiling quite often . What can hunters do to ensure it doesn’t happen
 
The flap in between can absolutely be tanned. That’s poor skinning practice. It’s like any other bovine or sheep. That hide between the horns can be fleshed and tanned as long as it’s attached or kept with the cape when it goes to the tannery. The fact is, there is a lot of misconception across the globe when it comes to skinning and trophy prep. Capes from anywhere range from very good to absolute crap depending on how it was cared for in the field. This is caused by a variety of factors ranging from laziness and/or incompetence to environmental factors out of everyone’s control.
I'm not sure it would be poor skinning practice in this case as PH and tracker/skinner both knew I only wanted a skull mount. That flap of cartilage probably would not look right stuck on a bleached skull. Incidentally, this buffalo bull was one of only two skulls that were ready to hang on the wall out of two shipments totalling sixteen skulls. I have related one of those horror stories in another thread so no need to go into it further.
 
I think the message to be taken away here is be aware of the drawbacks involved in shooting a soft boss bull. If you're paying $10K plus, you deserve a trophy that will be worth that price (+ thousands more taxidermy and shipping!) when the crate is unpacked. The PH should know up front (as in up front before you pay any booking fee) that you don't want a soft boss bull. Make sure you have put it in writing, at least in an email.

But keep in mind soft boss bulls will typically have longer horns with prettier drop, etc. They aren't old enough to have the battle experience needed to build hard bosses, which usually takes a toll on horn length. So that bull in the herd with the most impressive looking horns might not be so impressive by the time he gets on the wall. Not without a whole lot of plastic surgery ( = ++ $$$). PH will know which bulls are soft boss. If you tell him what you want, then he will set you up.

My PH wouldn't even consider a soft boss bull. They are typically breeding stock. The old boys kicked out are the ones to take. They are contributing nothing to herd management. Sometimes the herd needs to be thinned and conditions do not allow for some young bulls to stay on the range (e.g. drought or poor condition of an animal). But my feeling is if the hunter wants a hard boss bull and management wants soft boss bulls culled, the hunter or his lodge should be able to negotiate a break on the trophy fee. A significant break considering the extra work needed for taxidermy.
 
I'm not sure how a soft boss skull could be properly treated to pass import inspection without the soft material being "boiled away." Keep in mind there is underlying living tissue beneath the horn that must be treated and stabilized for inspection. A beautiful shoulder mount that stinks of rotting flesh inside the horns is headed for the incinerator at port of entry. Hunters and Collectors of Port Elizabeth has a way of removing severely curved black wildebeest horn sheaths to clean and trim the bone stumps underneath. I'd like to know how they do it! I'm curious if they are able to similarly remove buffalo sheaths. The other turd taxidermist who handled both my buffalo skulls only drilled holes in the back side to do some treatment of living tissue. The cow skull was cooked excessively, enough to lose all her teeth (but she was VERY old and already one molar had been missing for a long time = recessed gum). Her fleshy bosses were of course missing from the skull but again, more flesh than horn so to be expected.

Perhaps someone in Africa who works with soft boss Cape buffalo can chime in. Is it actually possible to save that semi-horn material and still clean the skulls enough to pass inspection?
 
Even an old, mature bull can have a soft base to the actual horn.

This is an old mature duggaboy.
Limpopo Buffalo


And on the wall after boiling. A good taxidermist can replace the softer horn material. With a Euro, it wasn't important to me. But on a full mount it would be.

buff euro.jpg
 
I'm not sure it would be poor skinning practice in this case as PH and tracker/skinner both knew I only wanted a skull mount. That flap of cartilage probably would not look right stuck on a bleached skull. Incidentally, this buffalo bull was one of only two skulls that were ready to hang on the wall out of two shipments totalling sixteen skulls. I have related one of those horror stories in another thread so no need to go into it further.
Ah, understand. It really doesn’t matter if it’s for a euro. I’m a bit anal and am of the belief that if you do the repetitive tasks the same way every time then there won’t be any unnecessary screw ups.
 
Even an old, mature bull can have a soft base to the actual horn.

This is an old mature duggaboy.
Limpopo Buffalo


And on the wall after boiling. A good taxidermist can replace the softer horn material. With a Euro, it wasn't important to me. But on a full mount it would be.

View attachment 606624
Agree 100%
 
I hear about over boiling quite often . What can hunters do to ensure it doesn’t happen
Even on old bulls, there is some soft horn material that comes off when the skull is skinned, cleaned and boiled. If many good pictures are provided to the taxidermist they can rebuild the look of the original horn using bondo or something similar. I think the term "over boiling" is being misused or over used.
I hear about over boiling quite often . What can hunters do to ensure it doesn’t happen
 

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