After you have taken an animal, your PH will ask you how you want to preserve the trophy. This is where you tell him what type of mount you want for your animal. He will then let the skinners in camp know this and they will do the initial prep of the trophy to keep them from spoiling in the short term (usually salting hides and cleaning the skulls). They will only save the parts that you tell them too, so it is a good idea to have some sort of a plan before you get to this point.
Trophy mounts vary!
Head or shoulder mounts are the most common trophy mounts used for large animals and the most favored. These type of mounts involve the head, sometimes including the shoulders, mounted on a plaque. With head or shoulder mounts, the animal can be posed several different ways, such as looking to the right or to the left, sneak, semi sneak or upright poses. Most taxidermists recommend turning the head to either side to display the trophy to its full potential and give the mount a more life like look. This will also depend on where on the wall it will be hanging to display it well. Having the ears either forward or back or one each way can change the look and attitude of a mount dramatically. Carnivorous animals may be posed with their mouths open and their teeth bared.
Full-body mounts involve preserving and mounting the entire animal. It is the ultimate choice for that once in a lifetime trophy! Mounted in a life like pose true to the species, a full body mount is an impressive sight where the animal will be displayed in a natural setting, complete with ground, rocks and branches. These trophy mounts run the gamut, from small animals such as squirrels to large animals such as bears and elephants. Along with large game and exotic animals, duck and game fish are preserved as full-body mounts as well.
- According to Mike Baird of B & B Taxidermy in Houston, Texas, full-body mounts of large animals cost thousands of dollars. For example, a full body mount of an elephant costs upwards of $100,000 as of November 2010.
Sometimes the only trophy that can be salvaged from a kill is the animal’s antlers or horns. Antler or horn trophy mounts are used when the animal’s head is unusable, or if the hunt took place in another country, where bringing the head back would be problematic. This mount is also an option for hunters that choose to save money by having only a spectacular set of antlers mounted, rather than the whole head. Antler or horn trophy mounts are suitable for a variety of configurations, from wall plaque hangings to tabletop displays.
A hunter can also choose a rug mount. This is a normal choice used for those who don’t want a full body mount. It shows off the beautiful skin of zebras, bears and big cats.
Once your safari is done, another company will come and pick up (or your outfitter will deliver) your skulls, skins, hides, etc. This company will then go through a process called “dipping”. This encompasses several steps in which the skulls are boiled, dried and “dipped” in a solution to kill all bacteria. The hides are also “dipped” in a solution and then salted for a long period of time to kill any bacteria.
At this point, depending on the hunter’s decision, the “dipped” skulls, skins, hides are mounted by a local taxidermist or packed to be shipped to a taxidermist.
After the skulls, hides, etc. have been “dipped”, they will then be “packed”. This basically means they are wrapped in bubble wrap, put in thick plastic and then crated up for shipment to the final destination. Your trophy/trophies will be packed up in their own crate.
If a local taxidermist is mounting your animal, once the animal is mounted, it will be wrapped in bubble wrap, covered and crated up for shipment to final destination.
Before you leave your safari camp, the outfitter will suggest a dip/ship or taxidermist for your use and give you contact information, or you may inform him/her of your own taxidermist. The dip/ship agent or taxidermist will keep you informed of the status of your animal and have you fill out export/import papers accordingly. Payment for the import/export fees and dip/ship and taxidermy fees are typically settled with the taxidermist and dip/ship agent.