I attended my first taxidermy show 3 years ago and I was just starting to do mounts for other people at that time.  Up until that point I had learned everything from the internet and books.  Much to my surprise everyone was very friendly and open, I learned more there the first year than I would have learned in 10 years on my own.

I found the guy that had won the masters division and began to pick his brain.  I asked him if he would be willing to give me a private seminar, I would have paid anything.  Much to my surprise he said yes, and a couple months later I took a cape and horns to his place and we mounted a deer.

The next year I entered 2 mounts in the show in the professional division and took a second and a first. I was excited beyond belief, so I decided to do the most difficult mount I could for the show the following year.

I got a summer road kill buck and a set of velvet antlers from another guy and I was off.  I had never attempted to modify a form, or do an open mouth mount.  I bought an upright straight form and cut off it’s head as soon as I got it.  I was having trouble getting it to look right so I put a post on Taxidermy.net for help and got all the info I needed.  Glen Conley sent me some good reference pictures and Rick Carter also mailed me some pictures.

From those I modified the form and began with my open mouth.  I cut the lower jaw off of the form and hollowed it out to acccept the jaw insert. 

The front teeth on the insert looked bad so I cut them off and got a set of teeth off of a real deer .  I cut them about ½” back from the teeth and used what was left of the lower jaw and glued it to the jaw insert.   After I had them in place I began making all the detail inside the mouth with Epoxy sculpt a little piece at a time.

After I got it to look as close to my reference as I could, I airbrushed it and reattached the lower jaw to the form. 

I then got my ear liners and thinned them down as far as I could.  I attached them to the form with Epoxy Sculpt and began forming all my ear butt muscles. After that was done,  I cut them off the form using a hack saw blade.  I cut them in a v shape so I could reattach them later and they would realign correctly. 

I used drywall spackling to fill all imperfections on the form and I was ready to mount.

I mounted the deer as I normally would and then sewed up the incision using dental floss and a small needle.  I was pleasantly surprised with my finished mount.  It seemed like an impossible task before I began, but I took it one step at a time and when I got stumped I asked for help.  I had plenty of good reference and followed it as close as I could.  I think that anyone with good basic taxidermy skills can do just about any mount with enough research, good reference, patience and no fear of failing.
Dave Hyer

Read the critique of Dave's deer mount by Georgia taxidermist and judge
Rick Carter by clicking here.   here
                  ALTERED FORM
                        Dave Hyer
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