You spent the whole off-season feeding your whitetail deer and practicing your aim at the range. Then before the rut came, you set up trail cams, made mock scrapes and found the perfect place for your tree stand. And it all paid off. You got your trophy buck. Now what?
You want a way to remember all that hard work and show off your success to friends and family. There are four main ways to mount your trophy and number of poses. Choosing the right one is more than decoration—it’s commemoration.
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An antler mount is the most basic way to mount your trophy. It’s just the antlers. Even without the rest of the animal, antlers are beautiful decorations that memorialize your hunt and its success. The main draws of the antler mount are that it’s easy to do yourself for next to no cost and you don’t have to wait.
Professional Price Range: $100 – $150
The primary pose for an antler mount is on a panel or plaque. You glue the small portion of the animal’s skull that supports the antlers into the panel and then reinforce it with a screw from the back. You can then mount the panel on the wall using hooks, tack or whatever you prefer. Most people cover the bit of deer skull with felt.
The skull mount, sometimes called the European mount, is another option you can do at home, though it’s a lot more difficult and messy. Basically, you clean the entire buck’s skull and then mount it on the wall. This requires boiling it and pressure washing out soft tissue like the brain. Yeah, messy.
To avoid this mess, some hunters choose to go with a synthetic skull mount. Rather than cleaning the animal’s real skull, they attach the antlers to a fake skull.
Professional Price Range: $125 – $200
Instead of mounting your skull mount on the wall, you can alternatively set it up on a pedestal. This is more common for shoulder mounts, so we’ll dive into that in a second.
The shoulder mount is the most popular mount, the one you’re likely to see in hunting lodges and outfitters. It includes the entire head and neck of the deer going down to its shoulders. While some hunters do make their own shoulder mounts at home, they require a lot of skill and know-how. Most opt to have them done by professional taxidermists.
Professional Price Range: $400 – $600
Because shoulder mounts are so popular and show so much of the animal, people get creative with the posing. Serious hunters with lots of successful hunts like to mix up the poses for a dynamic and eye-catching medley of trophies.
The upright pose is the most basic with the buck’s head raised high and looking forward. This is arguably the most majestic pose and shows off the strength and stature of your trophy. That said, it can look a bit unnatural, especially if you have a lot of them.
The semi-upright pose is similar to the full upright, just that the neck is lowered a little. This looks more natural and lets you rotate the head if you want.
A semi-sneak pose has the head and neck lowered even farther than the semi-upright. It looks very natural, like a buck moving through the woods or possibly curious about something, like a rival buck. The semi-sneak reflects movement, so it’s a good option if you want to add some action to your trophy room.
The full sneak has the animal’s neck outstretched parallel to the shoulders. It shows the most emotion, looking like an angry buck ready to fight. As a bonus, it saves room, so you can mount it higher on the wall even if you have a low ceiling.
Some hunters opt to set their shoulder mounts on a pedestal rather than on the wall. This puts the mount closer to eye level so admirers can get the full view. It’s also a good way to save space. You can mount some trophies on the wall and others on pedestals.
The wall pedestal is an interesting combination between a wall mount and a pedestal mount that shows the full musculature of your trophy’s shoulders. Basically, you take the vertical, rotated pose from the traditional pedestal pose and mount it on the wall. In this way, the neck and head do not appear to be extending out of the wall. Rather, the buck’s shoulder is against the wall with the head turned away from it.
Landscape mounts are more popular for full body mounts, but they’re an option for shoulder mounts as well, especially pedestal poses. We’ll go into more detail in a moment, but the short version is that you’re adding a landscape around the mount to make it appear like a deer in the wild.
Full Body Mount
Finally, you can opt to preserve the deer’s body in its entirety. It looks beautiful and shows off all the buck’s musculature, not just its shoulders and antlers.
While full body mounts are probably the coolest looking, they’re not nearly as common as shoulder mounts for a few main reasons. First of all, they’re a lot more expensive. Second of all, they’re complicated and take a long time to finish. Unless you’re a professional taxidermist yourself, it’s not something you want to do at home. Lastly, they take up a lot more space.
Most likely you won’t have the room or funds to mount every trophy this way. However, a single full body mount can make a great centerpiece when it’s surrounded by other mounts. Save your money and wait until you take down the perfect buck. Then you can show it off with this mount.
Professional Price Range: $2,000 – $3,000
Most hunters choose to add a landscape to their full body mounts, especially if they’re centerpieces in their trophy rooms. Landscapes involve added pieces of decoration like grass, rocks and logs to create a natural environment for the mount. These are great for full body mounts because you can create a whole scene like a buck hopping through a field.