Taxidermy Starting To Arrive!


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AH enthusiast
Apr 26, 2017
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USA, Canada, West Germany, Namibia, Romania, South Africa
The taxidermy from my August 2021 hunt with KMG Safaris is finally starting to trickle in. It has been an interesting process, but the first three mounts (of six total) are now home. I opted to have the taxidermy done here in the US, using a taxidermist who has done some work for me in the past. Being essentially a one-man operation (plus or minus a couple of young apprentices after school lets out) he is slow but does good work.

Splitting Image did the dip & pack work in RSA, and was just about ready to ship when the Christmas (2021) holidays hit. It took some time after the holiday break for the authorities to provide the proper documentation for export. Badger Cargo handled the shipping, and the skins and horns arrived at the San Francisco POE in early April 2022. Coppersmith Global Logistics handled the import formalities and had the crate on its way within a week. The taxidermist I’m using had arranged for them to be delivered directly to the tannery, which forwarded the completed trophies to his shop in August 2022. There they sat until January 2023, when we met to discuss the details of the mounts.

I told him to do shoulder mounts on the impala, warthog, and the blesbok, figuring those would be fairly quick turn-around jobs in a shop which is typically on a 14-18 month backlog. Then we discussed the larger animals: Burchell zebra, gemsbok, and kudu. Hanging around here on AH has exposed me to a wide variety of interesting mounts and inspiration (translation: y’all have spoiled me), and I decided to try for something unique but still feasible for my modestly-sized house. I decided to do a pedestal mount on a “shipping crate” for the kudu, a Demaske zebra on an African continent outline, and a shield for the gemsbok (all ideas from the Taxidermy sub-forum on this site).

The blesbok and the impala were completed this summer. That impala looks fast just hanging on the wall.

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During our January discussions, I showed the taxidermist photos of what I had in mind, soliciting his thoughts on the project. He had not seen anything like those, being familiar mostly with the pedestals cataloged in the big taxidermy supply houses. Fortunately, a friend-of-a-friend is a retired woodworker who agreed to take on the project as something new and interesting to do in his spare time. Armed with his skill and my checkbook, and undaunted by our lack of experience, we started with some cardboard mock-ups. This allowed us to adjust the dimensions without doing a lot of woodwork.

Here’s the “shipping crate” under construction. The exterior of the crate was built from barn wood, augmented on the interior with some boards I salvaged from an old loading chute that I was tearing down. The rope handles were fashioned from an old tow rope that I had lying around here on the ranch.

Crate 2.JPG
Crate Handle.JPG
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Stenciling the crate. We probably overdid the linseed oil on the sides, but some mineral spirits removed enough to allow the paint to adhere without bleeding over.

Crate w stencil.JPG
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Finally picked up the kudu from the taxidermist and drilled the holes to attach the mount to the crate. There is some hair missing which is a bit dismaying but it tells a story. As mentioned in my hunt report, this was a very old bull and near the end of his days. Too, he fell far up the hill and it took a number of men to drag him to the trail where he could be loaded into the truck. The same bare patches are evident in the photos that I took at the time of the hunt.

Bare spot.jpg
Rub marks.jpg
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And here it is with the kudu finally mounted. The crate is definitely overbuilt, but I think it came out pretty good for a couple of amateurs.

Kudu completed.jpg
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We built the shield mount concurrently with the crate. I plagiarized heavily from photos here on the site, especially Para45 who I wish to thank for his help with dimensions and detail photos. The spears were purchased from the internet, then lengthened with a piece of rebar welded-in to the middle of the shaft. It took a bit of trial-and-error to determine the proper angles for the shield and then adjust the shafts accordingly. Walnut strips were bent and laminated to trim the edges of the shield. A woodburner was used to add designs to the edge of the shield, once again plagiarizing from Para45’s design.

Shield frontal view.jpg
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Here’s a photo of the base, which uses a small(er) outline of the continent along with a contrasting insert of walnut.

Shield base side.jpg
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Using the taxidermy form to determine the proper angle for the shield.

Shield form side.jpg
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The completed shield, ready for the gemsbok.

The taxidermist called a month ago to tell me that the gemsbok would be ready the following week, so I’m guessing that it should be ready before the end of the year. At which time, we’ll put it all together and make any final adjustments. He's intrigued with the concept but has not done one of these previously.

Shield w spears.JPG
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An “Africa Continent” would be needed for the background of the Demaske mount, so I found the appropriate images online which we could then use to trace onto lumber. A print shop in the city has a large-format printer which is used for reproducing construction blueprints, so this was an easy task for them. I simply emailed the files in jpg format and they had them ready by the time I arrived (it’s a bit of a drive). We had them made in two, three, and four-foot heights. The four-foot version will be used on the Demaske zebra, and the three-footer was used on the base of the gemsbok shield. The two-foot outline will eventually be used for …. something; not sure what yet.

Africa backer.jpg
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The taxidermist and I had a chat when I picked up the kudu. He had contacted a couple of other taxidermists for advice about the zebra mount, and it was obvious to me that he was uncomfortable with it. We agreed that I would pick up the zebra skin and take it elsewhere. It is now with Gizmo, who should have it ready next time I pass through Amarillo.

It’s been an interesting journey. More to follow as the rest of these roll in.
I like the shipping crate idea! Always nice when the taxidermy gets put up and you get to enjoy the memories of your hunt every time you look at them.
Very nice, I too like the shipping crate idea. Always good when your ideas come to life.
That is a very nice kudu bull! I can't believe they dragged it. Typically animals are put in a "sail" and carried out, especially if cape will be used.
That is a very nice kudu bull! I can't believe they dragged it. Typically animals are put in a "sail" and carried out, especially if cape will be used.
Thank you, I was quite pleased with it.

As I recall, the lads cut a couple of poles which were used to carry the kudu out of the brush and down to the trail. I suspect that most of the rubs were present before the trigger was pulled, as was the split in the ear. I especially liked that the taxidermist was able to capture that feature in the completed mount.
AZDave and cls: Something that I neglected to mention was the use of square nail heads on the batten boards. These are not structural, but my woodworker friend thought that they added to the vintage look. I tend to agree. You can see these clearly in the first photo of my Post #3 in this thread.
AZDave and cls: Something that I neglected to mention was the use of square nail heads on the batten boards. These are not structural, but my woodworker friend thought that they added to the vintage look. I tend to agree. You can see these clearly in the first photo of my Post #3 in this thread.
John, I absolutely love the crate. Great idea and very original.
Picked up the warthog. This was supposed to have been a shoulder mount, but the taxidermist showed me where the neck had been cut during skinning and he was concerned that it just wouldn't display well. He modified the form somewhat and added a square tube, so it will become a tabletop mount, in order to hide the stitches.


The other issue is discoloration of the tusks. It looks like he's either been drinking a lot of coffee or chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes. I think that this took place during the dip & pack process. Compare the photo of the warthog in the field (top left) to the D&P photo (bottom) to the completed mount (top right). Not quite sure how to fix this; I was considering either bleach or peroxide but am unsure just how deep those stains have penetrated into the tusk. Either way, I suspect that it's going to be more difficult since the tusks are already mounted.

WH Tusks 3.jpg

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Is your 22HP still available? If so have the original case?
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Hi Ian, I'm contemplating my first outing, leaving UK via Dubai to Africa, taking rifles as you did.

I presume it went okay for you, would you have done anything differently? Cheers, Richard East Sussex
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