Many people wonder how much it costs to taxidermy a moose head. First things first. Actually, taxidermy is not a verb, so the correct verb to use would be “mount”. Taxi means “to move”, and “derm” means skin. Taxidermy means the movement or manipulation of skin over a foam mannikin that’s been cast from a sculpture of the animal’s internal anatomy. Mounting an animal has evolved from very primitive, temporary methods to highly sophisticated, long-lasting methods. In this article, we’ll use a moose as an example and walk you through a photo gallery of the process of mounting a moose.
Moose Taxidermy Pricing
Let’s answer the big question first. A modern, talented taxidermist is going to charge an average of $1500 – $2000 for a full shoulder mount of a moose. A shoulder mount simply means that the finished mount includes the head, neck, and then stops at the front shoulders. This price depends on the taxidermist’s skill level, actual materials used, the size of the moose, and whether or not antlers are made to be removable.
Steps to Preserve a Moose with Taxidermy (Mounting a Moose)
Step 1, Tanning
The first step in mounting a moose is hide preparation. Once the animal is skinned, the cape (skin of the head, neck and shoulders) is professionally tanned. Some taxidermists do this themselves. Some send the skin to a professional tannery. Once tanned, the hide must be thinned in the nose, lips, and eyes for ideal fit and minimal shrinkage.
Step 2, Reassembling the Antlers
Many moose hunts take place in remote regions of wilderness in the USA and Canada where a small plane is required for transportation back to civilization. Fitting large antlers on a small airplane can be difficult at best. The skull plate is often cut in half to help save space and make it easier to get the moose antlers home. The first thing a taxidermist must do is re-establish that skull plate and the proper angle and width of the antlers. Generally, fiberglass and Bondo are used to reattach the skull plate. The customer may also decide to have the antlers remain removable on the finished mount, so the taxidermist will plan accordingly. Antlers are removed below each burr and steel tubes are epoxied or Bondo’d into each antler so that a “square tube, square rod” system can be used to easily attach or remove the antlers.
Step 3, Material Ordering and Form Preparation
With measurements taken from either the carcass or the skin, a taxidermist will order a mannikin for that species in the customer’s desired pose. Prep work is done on the mannikin to allow glue to adhere the skin to it. Glass eyes are used in place of the real thing to bring a lifelike look back to the animal.
Step 4, Mounting the Moose (Positioning the Skin)
With the antlers, or at least the skull plate, attached to the prepped mannikin, the cape is applied over the mannikin, and positioning begins. The taxidermist will use knowledge of anatomy to carefully place the skin in its appropriate place. Glue and pins are used to hold the skin in position. Incisions are sewn up, and the animal is then ready for drying.
Step 5, Drying & Monitoring
Depending on humidity, the mount must dry for a few weeks. The taxidermist will press, comb, fluff, pull, brush, and manipulate the mount as needed over the course of this drying period to ensure everything stays as it should. Quality materials and tanning will minimize movement from shrinkage.
Step 5, Finish Work
With the mount dried, any pins and drying aids will be removed, and the animal is usually combed or brushed. Color is applied in the form of paints using an airbrush or regular brush, to fleshy areas that typically fade and/or darken during drying, such as the nosepad (not so much on a moose), nostrils, lips, ears, and eyelids.
A quality moose mount will last a lifetime if treated well. Mounts are, after all, leather underneath, so consistent temperatures and humidity should be maintained. Occasional dusting will also ensure longevity of the mount. We hope you learned a little more about taxidermy and the cost to mount a moose! Learn more about us and the reason behind the products Mountain Mike’s produces.