By Dave Novak
Most of us like to display the spoils of a successful hunt, be it on the plate as a juicy backstrap, on the floor as a rug or on the wall as a traditional shoulder or European mount. Unfortunately most of us don’t have the space, the coin or the right partner to be able to mount every stag so those skull caps are destined to collect dust in the shed. With that in mind, here is a different way I have recently mounted some of my dust collectors.
The good-idea fairy came to me about five years ago from a collection of heads that were too important to me to be gathering dust and that didn’t have a chance of getting past the wife into the house. I love traditional mounts but I also like things that are different. This is when I came across the 1920s Trapper Nelson pack. I loved the old-school look, how simplistic it was and the unique way the pack-board was removable from the pack-sack. I wanted to make one from scratch, just as they would have done back in the 20s. There came the idea to combine a handmade Trapper Nelson pack, a skull cap and the tanned rear half skin (that normally gets thrown out) and then set it all up as you would have carried it out of the bush 100 years ago after a successful hunt.
Never having seen one in real life, it wasn’t until two years ago that I set about making the pack. The hardwood frame needed to be bent, the fittings all needed to be handmade and the canvas and straps needed to be sewn. I made a ton of mistakes on the way and somehow at the end of it all I had enough good bits to make not just one, but six packs. Since then I gathered my ideas, prepared the skulls and skins and everything was put on a bigger pile in the shed collecting even more dust. (Disclaimer: I have absolutely no taxidermy skills, I leave that to Trevor Willis who has been doing amazing work for years).
Those heads and packs weren’t going anywhere fast until the summer just past when either the tenth day over 40 degrees or the constant nagging from the wife – ‘You’re not doing anything with them so get rid of that shit!’ – finally got the mojo going and over two weeks I put five years of ideas together and finished what I have called the Trapper Nelson Mounts.
I’m feeling pretty happy with how they turned out (saying that I think the heads are too big but that’s a good problem to have isn’t it) and it’s a unique way to display a mount, not for everyone, but it is different. You can hang them on the wall without taking up a lot of space like a traditional shoulder mount or you can lean them against the wall on the ground which looks just as good. ………. Well that’s what I told the wife when I brought them into the house.