by Evelyn Mills of Billington Ranch Taxidermy
The Impaler         (Evelyn Mills  02 23 2005)
How many times have taxidermists dreaded the time and labor that is being spent on skinning out a head?  Especially when the head belongs to a boar that has been cut off behind the shoulders, and has a shield on it that won't bend no matter how hard you try?  I used to curse those times, and rolling around in grease and blood, wrestling with a slippery boar skull was never my idea of fun.

It was late fall of last year when I got in a large boar for a shoulder mount, which had an extreme thick shield on it.  No matter what I did and how I worked on it, I could not pull the shield over the skull to get my blade in to cut the hide loose.

After 30 minutes of fruitless wrestling, I told my husband Mike Billington, that I am about to give up.  He told me to give him about 30 minutes, and that he had something in mind.  That usually means he is going to come up with some sort of a contraption that will help ease the labor, and sure enough it was. About 40 minutes later he brought in this thing that looked like a stick on a disk.

Basically that's what it was.  It was a disk of an old disk plow, and he had welded a metal pipe to the center of it.  The pipe was about one inch and a half in diameter, and about three and a half feet long, with the end of it pointed like a spear.  The disk had a circumference of approximatley 16 inches.

He took the skull, pried open the mouth, and inserted the pointed end of the spear into the mouth of the boar.  We then stood up the contraption, and pushed the head of the boar onto the stick.  The skull was now firmly in place, and the big size of the disk kept everything very stable.

I then folded the hide of the pig over the skull.  Gravity helped to pull down the hide and it was a breeze to skin out the head.  The weight of the hide kept good tension on the cape, and the hide came off in no time.  I had to do very little pulling.  Within 10 minutes I had that pig caped out.

This was the day the "Impaler", as I came to call it, became one of the most important tools in my shop.  It is an enormous time saver. What used to take 40 minutes (skinning a boar head) now takes about 10 minutes.  Also, there is  no mess involved, since I hardly touch the cape.  Gravity and weight of the cape do the job for me.  Which in turn saves me from having sore arms and an aching back the next day.

The simplicity of the tool makes it easy for anyone who has some sort of experience working with metal and welding to build it at home in about 30 minutes or less.

There are some changes we are suggesting to the impaler, and our new model will represent those changes.  Instead of a pipe of one inch and a half in diameter, it is better to use a 5/8" steel rod and weld it onto the center of the disk.  The length of the rod should be adjusted to the height of the person working on it.  I am fairly short being only 5 feet 2 inches tall.  The three and a half foot length of the rod works great for me.  For someone who is taller, the length should be increased to around 4 feet or more.  Comfort is the key word.

The impaler works great with all sorts of skulls, whether they are sheep, boar, deer, or any other large game.  I would never be without the Impaler again, and I thank my husband Mike Billington for inventing it.  
Texas taxidermist Evelyn Mills
Evelyn Mills and the IMPALER
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