Pronghorn Antelope Special Techniques

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The Pronghorn is unique in many ways, and from the standpoint of the taxidermist, requires special knowledge and skills. This page is a summary of a few things that have to be taken into consideration to do your best work when dealing with a Pronghorn.
 
Regarding Tanning:
  • Hair-slip is common
    1. If raw skin is in poor condition, add 1 pound of powdered alum per 5 pounds of salt.
  • Very little hide stretch
    1. Choose the tannery or tanning method wisely.
  • An odor is possible
    1. Commercial tan will decrease odor problems.
    2. Add 2 ounces concentrated Lysol per 5 gallons of water in the soak. Liqua-Tan Deodorizer also works quite well. Use 1 ounce per gallon of water.
    3. Mount "dry" (drum, spin, compressed air)
    4. Hair conditioner (last mounting step).
 
For skull cap removal instructions see this "How To" Page
 

On Pronghorn, the horns must be removed from the skull core. To prepare the horns for this procedure:

  • First drill four holes (x) through the horn base, (two outside, two inside) into the inner core. (Figure 1)
  • Also, for most accurate repositioning of the horns on the core, you may desire to record several measurements (before boiling), such as tip to tip, distance between prongs, inside spread, etc.
  • Boil to remove horns from skull core.
    1. Boil for as short a period of time as possible (submerge skull and at least half the horn) until horns can be twisted off the core (about 30 minutes), then continue to boil skull only until the meat/gristle can be scraped off.
    2. Allow skull and horns to dry (over night) then Bondo the horns into position and insert nails into the holes drilled earlier. (Figure 2)
    3. As a guideline, if no holes were drilled in the horn bases, the bottom of the horns will normally be about 1/4" to 3/8" above the eye socket. (Figure 3)

 

Figure 1

Figure 2
Figure 3
 

 

Some horns sit forward over eye sockets more than others, caused by horn width and/or core position on the skull. If the cape to be used is not the original cape, you may need to move skull plate/horns into a position to suit the cape, regardless of the eye socket.

Important: If horns are suspected to make the Record Book, do not boil them. Contact your local Measurer.

 

To Determine Form Size:

  • Line up the eye holes in the tanned cape, and lay the face flat on the bench. Pat the skin flat and measure from eye to nose.
  • To measure the neck size, lay the cape out flat and measure across, four inches below the ears.
 

To Position the Skull Plate on the Form:

  • The rear width of the eye socket on the skull should approximately match the rear width of the eye socket on the form. A form one- eighth of an inch wider than the skull is ideal.
  • If the skull and the form do not match, select a different form, or widen or narrow the head as needed.

 

 

If the skull and form do not match, select a different form, or widen or narrow the head as needed.  
Shortening a Form
Narrowing a Form
   
Set the skull plate on the form. The eye socket diameter from top of the eye orbit (skull) to the bottom of the form socket should be no more than one and one half inches.
   

To Set the Eyes in the Form:

  • In preset eye sockets, place a ball of Critter Clay in the eye and simply press the eye into the socket.
  • Tilt of the eye may vary slightly depending on the mass of the horn bases as well as the angle of the horns. However, the upper rim of aspheric eyes will always be outside of the bone socket.
  • I do not recommend a decrease in eye tilt, even for narrow horns. For wide horns, increase the tilt to approximately match the angle of the horn.

 

For eye shape, there is generally more space-from-pupil at the upper front of the eye than the upper rear, and more space-from-pupil at the lower rear of the eye socket than at the lower front.
 

Special Antelope Characteristics and Mounting Techniques:

  • To Prepare the nose
    1. Shape the nostril from the outside.
    2. Saw off the entire muzzle approximately one half inch behind the rear of the nostril opening.
    3. Shape the interior of the nostril from the back side of the muzzle piece.
    4. Insert the painted septum and Bondo the muzzle back in place.
  • I prefer a slightly wider lip slot made with a metal cutting jigsaw blade.
    1. Shave the outside of the lips on the hide for easier tucking.
  • Problem: Antelope absorb yellow dextrine, found in standard hide paste, through the hide into the hair, turning white hair yellow.
    1. Make special paste using white (bleached) dextrine.
    2. Use latex caulk as hide paste.
    3. Use Lock Tight epoxy hide paste.

 

  • One of the most unique Pronghorn characteristics is the "cheek gland" and the cheek gland "roll". During rut, the black gland area located at the rear of the jaw swells in size, creating a heavy roll of skin between the gland and the eye. Depending on the severity of the rut and individual specimens, both the gland and the roll vary in size. The "roll" is formed by skin only, and is normally located by a well defined crease.
  • The expanding size of the "cheek gland" also causes excess gristle-like skin under the jaw, causing "jaw-sag". Study your reference photos and fill this area with Critter Clay only as needed.


 

 
Muzzle Shape: From the side, the muzzle has a "stairstep" profile. From the front, the lip line is "V" shaped.

  • To Enlarge the Head
  1. Cut off the muzzle and upper head
  2. For whatever length you increase space "X" (between the muzzle and the head), increase space "Y" (between the top and bottom of the head halves) by only half as much.
  3. Add foam spacers and Bondo them in place.
 
   
At the Brisket, add clay to shoulder points if they are not well defined on the form. The cowlick should be located at the lowest shoulder point

 

 
The upper brow should appear "heavy" and extend outside of the eye profile. Upper lashes angle down slightly while lower lashes protrude almost straight out in obvious fashion.
   

Short cut capes work well. However, the neck of an Antelope is smaller than the circumference around the back of the head, making it impossible to pull the skin over the form.

The Solution: When you are ready to apply the skin, simply saw off the head, slide the skin over the neck and shoulders, and Bondo the head back in place.

   
As a final grooming step, work hair conditioner into the hair and blow dry with compressed air (this takes a lot of air! A hair dryer won't do it.) this step will give your mount real shape and fullness. Try it!
   

Septum: You can create your own septum

  1. Cut two pieces of plastic (use the rough textured top area of a gallon milk jug) to the shape drawn at right.
  2. Mix Bondo and black paint tint ( I use Lamp Black #11 Tints-All by Sheffield Bronze Corp.)
  3. Add hardener and press colored Bondo between the two pieces of plastic. Trim after the Bondo has set, but while still soft.



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