Research Mannikins Taxidermy Supplies: Frequently Asked Questions


How do you install Buffalo horns to a mannikin?

There are numerous ways to install a set of Buffalo horns to a mannikin. Here are a couple which work well. Most all mannikins come with a base core on the form where the horn will be attached. This core generally has a wood plate with a stick attached to it which goes into the head of the form.

  1. Cut down the circumference of the core on the mannikin so the horn will slide over it with ease.
  2. Into the plywood core drill a few rock screws into it leaving the heads protrude out at least a ¼ to ½ inch.
  3. Pack the inside of horn tight with paper leaving approximately ¾ inch from edge of horn.
  4. Mix up bondo and fill the remaining portion of horn with it. Glide the horn over the core and position it in place. Hold until the bondo has set up.
  5. Now drill some small holes around the horn base approximately ¼ inch from edge of the base. Usually 6 or so will do the trick.
  6. You can now use sheet rock screws or nails and run them into the holes and anchor them into the core of the mannikin.

Another method is to use 2 part foam to anchor the horns onto the core of the mannikin.

  1. Cut down core on manikin so horn slides over with ease. Screw in a few sheet rock screws into core and allow the heads to be out ¼ to ½ inch.
  2. Drill 6 holes around the base of horn approximately ¼ to 3/8 inch from edge of the horn.
  3. Pre-set sheet rock screws into the holes you drilled around the base of horn.
  4. Mix up 2-part foam and pour into horn and then place horn over the core on the mannikin in the proper position.
  5. Screw in the screws to hold horn in place as the foam expands and locks into place over the core.
  6. Cut or shave off any excess foam which has oozed out around horn onto form.

What do I do if I have an old mount that the hair is beginning to fall out?

There are a few different things which can cause this.

  1. If the mount is old, the hair has dried out substantially, and has become brittle.
  2. It may be affected by bugs, which eat the base of the hair, this is where there is still protein in the follicles.
  3. If mount has not been taken care of properly, or its environment has taken its toll on the mount.

Recommendations to help the problem.

  1. If bugs are present, you must exterminate them initially then clean the mount well. Also use a deterrent after mount has been cleaned and cared for to prevent future problems. And keep up on a regular fumigation of the trophy room.
  2. If the mount is very old, and the hair is just brittle and dry, you need to clean the mount and use a conditioning product, such as mount care, to supple the hair to give it some body.
  3. If the environment the mount has been in has effected the quality of the mount, you need to clean mount well and condition the hair good. Never hang a mount near windows or above a heat sources as this will lessen the life of the mount and the quality of the hair. Sunlight and intense heat sources are very bad on taxidermy mounts, as well as high humidity areas where temperature fluctuates often.

Does rock mix need to be completely dry before you apply the tempera to color it?

I suggest you let it set up a bit, possibly ½ hour, prior to applying the tempera mix to the rock mix. This will allow better absorption of the color.

Do you or should you always salt a cape prior to tanning it?

We always suggest that after the animal has been skinned and turned, you salt them at least once prior to starting your tanning process. Salting will pull excess moisture out of the raw skin, help set the hair, and actually start breaking down fatty cells in the skin to aid in the tanning process.

How do you secure the skin on a mannikin when you use an artificial nose on a mount?

  1. When cutting the real nose off of a skin, make sure you leave a small amount of natural nose pad attached to the skin.
  2. When prepping the skin, make sure you have the skin extremely thin around the nose area.
  3. Wipe skin down with alcohol around the portion which will be attached to form around the artificial nose.
  4. Using a thin layer of epoxy skin paste and apply to the muzzle of form.
  5. Place skin in the proper position around the nose.
  6. Using Zap or Zap Gel, apply a thin bead around the edge of the artificial nose and place skin into position.
  7. Use either insect pins or euro pins to secure the hide temporarily until the skin paste is completely dried.

How do you preserve the velvet on antlers?

There are 3 products which work well:

  1. Larry Bollman's Velvet Tan. It comes in a crystal form. You mix the Velvet Tan in water along with bacteriacide. This product is meant to be used as a soak. I generally suggest injecting as much of the fluid initially into the antlers. Start at each tine tip and inject as much as possible then down each tine to the main beam. Do this to the complete set of antlers. After the antlers have been completely injected with the fluid you can follow the directions on the container and mix a bath that the antlers will be submerged into for a period of time. Then remove, dry and fluff up.
  2. Knobloch's Antler in Velvet Tan. This product comes in a fluid form. You use it straight from the bottle, injecting it just as you would the Bollman's Velvet Tan. I suggest injecting initially and then drenching the ouside of the antlers prior to hanging them to dry.
  3. Soak the antlers totally submerged in Methanol Alcohol for a period of 7 days then removing them and hanging them to dry out completely. As the drying process takes place gently brush the velvet to fluff to a natural positon.

With all 3 methods above I suggest, expecially if the antlers are still in the growing mode, drilling a small hole up through the brain cavity through each pedicle and up into the antlers. This will help drain any blood and fluid from the inside of the antlers which are not developed as of yet. Then proceed with the method of choice.

The best method for velvet is to have Artificial Velvet put on them. You would strip the original velvet off the bone. Save a section of the real velvet for a sample color. Clean the skull cap. Allow the bone to dry completely. Send in the set of antlers to have the process done along with the sample from the antlers you saved. This method is sure proof. No natural tissue that bugs can eat or material that can deteriorate over time. Its durable can be washed, dusted and cleaned just like the mount should be.

How do I glue back together a cut form that has been shipped to me?

The best way to glue a large form back together would be to use Bondo. You will need a half dozen of 4-6 inch deck screws along with a couple of 3/8" x 3' long threaded rods. You can get the threaded rods at your local hardware store. First you want to sharpen one end of each of the rods and the other end of the rod file a slot that a flat nosed screwdriver will be able to fit in. Then:

  1. Remove the foam dust from each of the sides of the cut mannikin
  2. Divit out a number of holes on each side of the cuts
  3. Mix up the bondo. Mix an adequate amount that you can smear onto both sides of the cuts and will also fill the divits
  4. Position the two parts together
  5. Screw in the deck screws at an angle to hold parts together till bondo cures
  6. Put the theaded rod into a drill and drill the rod through the head(usually starting between the eyes down the muzzle a couple inches) and completely into the neck and shoulders of form if possible
  7. Remove the threaded rod from drill and use a screwdriver to finish inserting the rod till its beneath the surface of the form.
  8. Repeat process with 2nd rod a few inches left or right of the initial rod that was inserted.
  9. Smear clay over the imperfection spots that the rods set and proceed with attaching the antlers and mounting