Showing Off Your Trophies
By Will Bowen | PUBLISHED November 16th, 2022
Deer season is in full swing and hunters are knocking down bucks all around. Pictures are filling social media and getting texted to you weekly. Heck, maybe you’ve even already filled your buck tag yourself! If you haven't, don't worry, there’s still plenty of time! And if you are fortunate enough to harvest a buck this year, you’ll have to ask yourself one important question, “how am I going to display this sucker?”
Just as freezers across the country will be filling, so will taxidermy shops. Hunters are proud of their trophies and who is anybody to say how someone should display them. I personally have several antlers displayed in a variety of ways and love looking at them everyday. They provide great talking pieces for when I host guests and provide me with the instant memory of that hunt. How will you display your next trophy? How do you decide? Let me give you some options and some hopefully helpful insight.
How to Decide
When deciding how to display your trophy there are several factors that you have to consider: money, available space, DIY possibility, and overall aesthetic. Working your way through the previous factors can help point you in the right direction. Yes we’d all love a beautiful shoulder mount of last season’s buck, but what if I don’t have an extra $500 laying around? What if my space is limited? What if my spouse just absolutely hates looking at dead things? Asking these kinds of questions will save you some headache as opposed to taking your deer to the taxidermist and asking questions later.
Shoulder mounts are one of the most popular ways to present your buck and who could argue with its popularity? A well done shoulder mount is a work of art. I’m fortunate enough to have a few hanging in my basement. But while a shoulder mount is often choice number one, there are a few barriers you should consider before paying for the mount.
First off, a shoulder mount can be very expensive (often in excess of $500). Secondly, they take up significant wall space. And lastly, unless you are a taxidermist yourself, there is very little chance that can make it a DIY project (especially if you fear ruining your trophy). But if you find that you have enough money saved and have just the spot for your mount to hang, it would be hard to beat a well-done shoulder mount!
The European mount is gaining more popularity all the time and is probably my favorite way to display my deer. They are relatively inexpensive, are easily moved, and just downright cool to look at. Pair your skull with a nice blown-up photograph and you have the perfect memory jogger!
A taxidermist often charges between $50-$100 for a European mount but a DIY European mount is very doable. There are literally tons of videos on YouTube showing you just how to do it. So if you like the way the mount looks and want a project to work on, a European mount is right for you.
There’s a good chance that your grandpa’s best buck was displayed on a simple antler plaque. It’s one of the most traditional ways to display your antlers. And while the method has taken a backseat to shoulder and European mounts, it still comes back in style here and there. I even have one in my collection to break up all of the other mounts. The traditional, rustic look of a leather-covered velvet plaque is worthy of any trophy room.
Once again the antler plaque is a very affordable display option and serves as a very easy DIY project. Tons of plaque kits are available online and the instructions on assembly are very simple. If you are a sucker for the simple, rustic look like I am, don’t discount a basic antler plaque.
Don’t Forget Enlarged Trophy Photos
I think the one thing that falls by the wayside now is good photos. Great photos provide the essence of a memory. I’ve spent countless hours thumbing through my dad's photo albums and boxes of loose photos. It’s more satisfying than swiping through a phone. Another great way to display your buck and your memory is to hang a photo. I have a 25” x 17” Smallwoods photo hanging on my wall of an opening day double between my dad and I. Seeing the photo brings back vivid memories every time. So please, don’t forget to display your photos as well.
Whatever method you decide, just make sure you display it proudly. A lot of hard work and fun memories are tied to your harvest. Good luck this season and hopefully you will be footing your own taxidermy bill soon! Happy hunting!