Preserving a memory: Pet Taxidermy

Humans and animals have lived, breathed, worked, and played together for countless generations.  We develop close bonds with our pets that are often more real than the relationships we have with our fellow man.  My father always had a dog.  His dogs were his best friends and when one would pass away he would quickly drive to the animal shelter and get a new friend.  In reality, I think his dogs saved him just as much as he saved them.

Most taxidermists are not willing to preserve pets because of the following two reasons.

  • Reason 1: The Hunter vs. The Pet Lover
    • When a hunter harvests a trophy they are overwhelmed with joy.  Usually the hunt involves close friends and family, some sort of challenge, and a feeling of accomplishment after the trophy is bagged.  All of these elements lead to good associations with the hunt and when they call, I can hear the excitement in their voice. 
    • The pet lover is the opposite.  When they call I hear sobs and the determined effort to keep the tears back.  It takes a delicate soul to handle this situation and most taxidermists do not want to deal with the grieving pet owner. 
  • Reason 2: Traditional Taxidermy vs. Freeze Drying
    • Traditional Taxidermy: Uses a generic manikin to “mount” the animal.  For example: When a deer is harvested, the hunter brings the head and the skin to the taxidermist.  The skin is tanned, measurements are taken, and a manikin is made or ordered to fit the deer.  The taxidermy industry has evolved to where there are thousands of deer manikins, but they are still mass produced and somewhat generic.  The final product will look like a deer but it won’t necessarily look like the deer the hunter bagged.  This is ok because most hunters have not studied their deer for years and watched how they hold their ears, eyes and nose.
    • Pet Taxidermy: There are not “manikins” for pets.  The reason for this is that there are too many pets in too many shapes, sizes, and colors.  Even if there were thousands of manikins it would still lead to the problem of a generic pet.  The answer to this dilemma is the freeze dryer.  Freeze drying your pet uses the actual skeletal and muscular system of your pet.  This preserves your pet exactly how it was.  Freeze drying machines are expensive and most taxidermists do not want to invest the time or money into these machines.  We have dedicated ourselves to the freeze drying industry by purchasing the best machines and honing our skills to operate them.  We use them to preserve pets, velvet antlers, floral arrangements, and smaller animals which are hard to preserve via “traditional” taxidermy.

A final point to consider is, why?  There is a difference between preserving your pet and cloning them.  Preserving your pet does not mean that you cannot move on, in fact, it might help you in the grieving process. Your pet will never be alive again but you can rest assured knowing that you preserved the memory of them for many years to come.  We all take photos and display them proudly.  Preserving your pet is merely a 3D, tangible photo, to remind you of the good times.  It allows you to keep them in sight and bring back the good memories for years to come.

If you have any questions about preserving your pet please feel free to call, write, or email us. 


David Williamson

A Guide to Whitetail Shoulder Mount Positions

With deer season in full swing I thought I would take a moment to discuss several of the most popular shoulder mount positions.  Taxidermy has evolved drastically over the past century. My grandfather's "shoulder" mounts would now be considered a neck mount.  Modern taxidermy offers unlimited choices to which the only limit is your imagination.  We will look at the four most popular positions:

  1. Upright

  2. Semi-Sneak

  3. Full Sneak

  4. Wall Pedestal

Visit my favorite taxidermy supply company to view all options:

1. Upright:  This is the classic deer mount.  It is a proud position normally mounted with ears in the alert position.  A slight turn to the left or right can accentuate the antlers.  This pose must be hung lower on the wall but does not extend as far from the wall.

2. Semi-Sneak: This is a relaxed pose that looks great with a small or large turn.  This position allows for the ears to be mounted either alert or relaxed, or my personal favorite, one of each. It can be hung higher on the wall but extends from the wall a little further than an upright mount.


3. Full Sneak: This is the most relaxed pose.  This position looks good either with both ears alert or both ears relaxed. Not as popular as the Upright and Semi Sneak but a nice addition to any trophy room.  It can be hung the highest on the wall but also extends the farthest from the wall.

4. Wall Pedestal:  This pose has been on the market for about a decade but started gaining popularity within the last several years.  This is a beautiful pose that adds a spark of creativity and movement that the other three positions do not allow. It has a cut out "shadow" section that is either covered in buckskin or felt.

I hope this helps you in choosing the best pose for your trophy.  Ask your local taxidermist for tips on making your trophy look the best.  Although I only covered Whitetail Shoulder Mounts in this post, the poses apply to all other shoulder mounts. Also, all photos with a black background are from McKenzie Taxidermy Supply website.  Actual deer mounts were mounted by Wildlife Designs Taxidermy, LLC.

Happy Hunting!

David Williamson