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Let’s talk taxidermy! I shot my bear on September 4 and my deer on November 22, 2014. The bear hide/head has been in the freezer and I’ve picked up the deer from the butcher. So, let’s talk about taxidermy…now that I can do it without fighting tears.
Dear friend Erin Merrill had a horrible experience with the butcher when she shot her first bear this year. I talked with Jared Delaite of Delaite’s Taxidermy before I called a butcher. Jared came highly recommended, and I wanted to talk to him before I took my buck to a butcher. I didn’t want to leave room for anything to go wrong. Jared made a recommendation for a butcher and even offered to pick up the head and cape on his way through. It didn’t work out because the butcher was booked. Taking no chances, I called Jared back. “I want to take the deer to _____. What do you think?”
Jared wasn’t familiar with the butcher. He told me exactly what to tell the butcher. I needed to be sure I told the butcher I was having a shoulder mount, be sure he knew where to cut the cape (behind the front legs), and on my own decided to ask for more than enough cape. Better to have extra than not enough. I felt like I was being a little obnoxious but repeated “shoulder mount” and cutting far enough back to have more than enough cape. I said it at least three times. I felt confident when I left.
Steve and I drove to Woodville to bring the deer’s head and cape and my bear’s head and hide to Delaite’s Taxidermy. I asked Jared a million questions. He’s a patient man. The only choice I had to make for my 2014 turkey was what plaque I wanted. I chose the pose, a combination of the post I like most and the way the deer was turned to look at me when I pulled the trigger. I was so excited! I avoided looking at the head. Unmounted, I thought it would be creepy.
NOT my deer. This is a shoulder mount. Photo courtesy of Jared Delaite, taxidermist.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the bear. I was debating between a shoulder mount and a rug with the head left on. After talking with Jared and Steve I decided on the rug. No ruffle on the felt. I can’t have the ruffle. Ruffles remind me of clowns, clowns are evil and creepy, and a bear clown in my living room would give me nightmares. Poor Jared. He laughed. We were ready to leave.
One of the raccoon mounts at Delaite’s Taxidermy. Look at the blue ribbons!
Ready to leave but Steve had a request. He asked Jared to look at the deer head to be sure everything was all set. Jared slipped the black trash bag off the head. The look on his face said it all. I gasped, covered my face with my head, and couldn’t speak. If I’d spoken I’d have cried. Steve turned away.
The hide was cut before the end of the neck. There wasn’t enough to do a shoulder mount. Jared felt terrible. I squeaked out “It’s too short. Even I know that.” I fought tears. My first deer is a 188 pound, eight point buck (around 218 pounds live weight) with bark and moss on his antlers, and it couldn’t be mounted the way it was.
“That’s where you shot it,” Jared asked, touching a hole in the neck.
“No. No, that’s not where I shot it. I didn’t touch the neck. I hit it behind the shoulder. That’s not where I shot it.” I looked at the hole in the neck, below an ear. It’s not just a hole, it’s a three-corner slice. I have no idea what in hell happened. I was specific. Shoulder mount. And there was a big three-corner hole made by two slices of a knife in the neck.
Most of my friends are learning about this as they read. I’ve told a few people in writing. I couldn’t speak about it. If you know me and noticed I was in a lousy mood this week, you now know why.
I take this very seriously. Hunting is not a hobby or sport to me. This is food on the table and reverence and gratitude for the animal. Through taxidermy this deer is supposed to be on my wall as a reminder of the seriousness of what I do, of the beautiful animal, and to never stop being grateful. It’s a reminder of the story of my first deer.
If I ever get a moose permit I’m going to have a European mount.
It took a couple of minutes for the feeling of being punched in the gut to fade.
Make the best of a bad situation. I like European mounts. If I ever get a moose permit I’ll have a European mount. That would work. Taxidermy
Okay. It will be okay. I couldn’t have my shoulder mount but a European mount would be good. I could be happy. We talked a few minutes. My buck field dressed at 188 pounds. Jared has a cape from a 182 pound buck. Oh. Oh! OH! The six pound difference is workable. He’ll use that cape. Everything will be fine thanks to Jared.
When Jared works his magic the hole in the neck and missing cape will be another memory of my first deer. I’ll have my shoulder mount. It won’t be entirely my deer but I’ll have my shoulder mount.
I am extremely grateful to Jared for saving my mount. I’ll bring them home some time next summer and I will bombard you with lots of photos. I’ll have lots of photos of Kenny Jipson’s eight point buck he shot a few days after I got mine. He took it to Delaite’s Taxidermy for a shoulder mount, too!
I haven’t spoken with the butcher. I’ve thought about it and decided against it. I don’t want to melt down on him, and honestly, he’s not worth my energy. He knows about hole in the neck and chose to not tell me face to face. He carried it to the Jeep while we talked. There was ample time to tell me. It’s been nearly a week and he has not contacted me. If he’d been honest and told me he didn’t know how to cut the cape I’d have taken the deer elsewhere to be skinned and brought the carcass back for butchering. There’s nothing he can say or do to make it right. And that’s that.
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