How to get creative with your man cave
After every successful hunt, there are some big decisions to make. What am I going to do with my trophy? How will I display it? What pose is best? Standard shoulder mount? European mount? Where will I put it? Will my wife let it in the house or is it doomed to hang in the garage? These are all questions we find ourselves asking after the harvest.
What to consider when presenting your trophy:
- What unique characteristics does your animal have and how can you present them so that these characteristics are most visible?
- How much space do you have to display your trophy? There is nothing worse than getting a mount home and realizing that it will not fit in the space you had in mind.
- European or full shoulder mount? This is always a tough decision. For me, it comes down to how “special” the animal is. I do not typically make these decisions based on size. I look at the hunt and what it took to get him home.
- Space. Where are you going to put him? Elk are especially troublesome.
- Non-trophy displays: What memories do you have of your hunts to display with the animal or in your trophy room? I find these items can be just as important as the mount itself. I display tags, hunting licenses, photos and memorable knick knacks with my mounts.
Finding a quality taxidermist is a big part of this process. An animal mount should reflect both the experience of the hunt and draw attention to not just the size of the animal, but the beauty of the animal. I addressed the questions above with my good friend and taxidermist Rick Carter of Carter Taxidermy. Rick is an artist in all senses of the word. He is a two-time North American Whitetail mount champion and is truly a master of of his craft.
Mount position in accordance with rack confirmation:
Placing the ears back typically makes a rack look taller. Upright mount poses are also good for extenuating a tall-racked animal. Rick’s favorite pose for deer species is a semi-upright relaxed pose.
Open mouth, habitat and dramatic poses can all enhance the appearance of the mount if done properly, but they can all become a distraction if poorly planned or over done. The focus of a mount should always be on presenting proper anatomy.
If you intend to display the mount high on a wall the face should point downward to the eye level of the viewer. The most dramatic pose for a deer is usually achieved by using a pedestal mount. The theme of a pedestal mount should focus on a capturing a specific moment of the animal’s life.
Creative mount options
With Rick’s help, I have tried to incorporate these themes into my trophy room. Space is always my most limiting factor. Here are some tricks I have used to both save space and present my trophies in a way that brings back fond memories from each hunt.
The European mount post
Last year a good friend of mine suggested I build a post for European mounts. With the creative use of a 6x6 pole and a couple of Skull Hooker European mount hangers we came up with this. This is the most space efficient method of displaying elk I have found. You can take this design and incorporate numerous European deer mounts. I owe a thank you to Max Lang at Lang Taxidermy for coming up with this idea for me.
- 6x6 post (we did mine with pine which is a little cheaper than hardwood)
- 4 Large L brackets and bolts
- Skull Hooker Hanging Brackets (optional)
Total cost: $50.00 + Skull Hookers
Wall pedestal hanging bracket
I have grown fond of wall pedestal mounts. These mounts utilize a little more front shoulder than do standard wall mounts. Over the past few years I have started using hanging brackets versus the more standard hangers on my mounts. These brackets are rock solid. They do require to be stud attached (they come with two screws) and once in they keep your mounts securely attached to the wall. My favorite thing about these hangers is they make it extremely easy to change the direction the mount is facing. They also allow you to very easily switch mounts (I put all of mine on the same type of hanger so I can move them around as I like). The brackets allow me to squeeze mounts into areas where traditional hanging brackets will not fit.
There are several companies out there that have hanging brackets like this. I have used Joe Coombs Wall Pedestal Swivel bracket for most of my mounts, which cost about $40.00 per bracket.
The antler shadow box
This is one of my favorite additions to my trophy room. Smaller sheds are hard to display in a tasteful way, which is why I incorporated my smaller sheds and European mounts into this display.
Displays from the hunt
Some of my favorite trophy room items are not trophies at all. Every year I seem to have a number of tags go unfilled. In years passed I held these tags away in my desk and would occasionally go through them. Looking at unpunched tags always brings back memories from the hunt. A few years ago my mom surprised me with a framed display of all my unfilled tags.
- Large frame $45.00
- Glue $1.50
Another non-trophy display I incorporated into my trophy room is a large map of the US. Each fall I mark the locations I hunted along with some notes from the hunt. The total cost is around $10.
Trophy displays bring back fond memories of the hunt. The number of forms, poses and options for your mounts can be daunting. I think the most important thing when planning any mount is to be true to the animal. Pose him the way you remember him and use a taxidermist that will correctly pose the animal anatomically correct.
As you can see from the photos above, it is my opinion that a trophy room should be more than just mounts. There are always memories from each hunt that will enhance your trophy displays.