By Cary Green
Editor’s Note: This column was scheduled to run last week and will run the second Sunday of the month after this.
Hunters are putting away the hunting gear, but there are still opportunities for a great hunt. This is a great time of year to take advantage of the plentiful resources that Texas offers for exotic game hunting. Axis deer, blackbuck antelope, Corsican and meuflen sheep are most commonly hunted, but are only a few of the many species of exotic game available. A quick internet search will come up with many options.
Many ranches in the Kerrville/Fredericksburg area offer hunting and/or lodging. These game animals have their prime winter hair now which makes for outstanding trophies. Hunters should remember to not cut the hide in the neck and throat area of any trophy animal that is headed for taxidermy. Taxidermists will never complain about hunters that bring too much hide with their trophy animal. Whitetail season for the Type III management areas is about over and many of the bucks have started dropping antlers, so it is often hard to tell bucks from does.
Late season light geese conservation season runs for several more weeks. The geese are quite wary by this late season, but a good guide outfit can usually produce a good hunt (except for bluebird days!).
Wild hogs are becoming common trophies to be mounted as there are some very interesting forms and poses that were not previously available to the taxidermist. Anyone that likes the European skull mounts also finds the wild hog skulls make very noteworthy pieces in the trophy room, especially when done with the new camo patterns of hydrographic prints and finishes.
Occasional warm, sunny days have fishermen putting new line on the old reel and checking out new lures in the stores. Lake waters may be cold, but fishermen are catching some nice fish. Fish mounts are done by two methods: skin mounts which utilize the original skin of the fish paced over a manikin or form and painted back to the original colors of the fish; or replicas which are made of fiberglass or resin from a mold of an original fish. These are available in a vast array of sizes and almost all types of fish. If a person wishes to have a replica of a fish they have caught, the taxidermist will need the length of the fish, the circumference or girth of the fish at the largest part of the belly, and a photo, if possible. Most common sport fish replicas are available in many sizes, but not always with a choice of direction. The replica mount will usually cost more than a skin mount, and although they are very detailed and accurate, replicas are still not totally comparable to a good original skin mount. Some fish, like catfish and many saltwater species, are normally done only with replicas due to oils and fats in the skin.
Fish to be kept for skin mounts should be placed on ice as soon as possible. Storage for more than a day or two should be done by freezing. I recommend wrapping a wet towel or sheet around the fish and placing in a large bag before freezing. This will keep fins from being damaged and/or broken. Pictures taken of the fish as soon after catching are really helpful in reproducing the patterns and coloration of the trophy.
Enjoy the outdoors, but always follow the rules and be careful.
By Cary Green
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