Gravity......and Longhorns

The story begins with a grandson trying to preserve the history of his family.  The young man's grandfather received the longhorn mount as a thank you gift from the contractor who built the grandfather's house.  As the story often goes, houses come and houses go, those things we grew up holding dear become the possessions of others.  We are left with memories and those smaller mementos that can be removed from the wall and stuffed in a box.  I feel a sudden connection as I write this article because it parallels the story of my life.  I have only a vague memory of my grandfather but the trade that flowed through his veins has been passed from one generation to the next.  I too, am trying to preserve the history of my family.  Even though it has fallen off the wall so many times I think it has more glue and cracks than anything else, it still resembles my family history, no matter how broken it might appear.

This is the story of how I repaired the longhorn that came loose from the wall and became a victim of gravity.

The right horn was completely broken loose and the left horn cracked near the base and was loosely attached.  I decided to repair both horns.

A&M's dream

First step was to remove both horns and save the nails and brads to use for later.  I then screwed several long screws into the wooden base.  The screws give a little something extra for the bondo to grab.

Longhorn Repair

Next step was to mix up plenty of bondo to fill the cavity of the horns then slide back onto the wood and hold in place until the bondo cured.

Lonhorn repair

After the horns are attached, to make it look pretty, I used the saved brads and nails to reattach the trim pieces.  I cleaned the horns and leather with Liquid Gold furniture polish.

This is a simple method to repair those precious family heirlooms. As the majority of my memories of my father include driving to the hardware store, so too, can all the supplies for this project be found at your local hardware store.

Happy Hunting!

David Williamson


Flesh & Salt Hide

This article is meant as a basic guide to fleshing and salting a skin.  As a general rule you should always take the skin to your taxidermist and have them perform this process however if you are in the field and do not have a freezer available or if you are an industrious person then this article is perfect for you.  Once you have fleshed, salted, and dried the hide you can then send to Wildlife Gallery Tannery and they will finish out the tanning process.  

All photos in this blog post were taken by Jonathan Chapman Photography

1. First step is to get a beautiful skin.  Axis are excellent specimens and are plentiful around Austin and the Texas Hill Country.

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2. Take the hide and place it hair down on the fleshing beam.  Begin fleshing at the tail.  Using a sharp knife or blade remove all the excess tissue from the skin.  In general the hide is thicker around the neck and back areas and becomes thinner toward the belly area.

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3. Lay the hide hair down on a flat surface and cover generously with a finely ground feed salt which can be found at most feed stores.  Place the skin in a sunny place.  Re-salt after 24 hours.  I like to lay on a wide grid metal fence so that air can flow on all sides of the skin

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4. After you have salted it two times it should begin to stiffen.  Fold the skin before it become too stiff and place in the box you will ship to the tanner.  Do not cover in plastic because this will trap moisture in the skin and could cause hair to fall out.  

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5. After you send the skin to the tanner give them 100-120 days to get back to you.  If all else fails take the skin to your local taxidermist and see if they can salvage it.  

Happy Hunting from David Williamson