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Preserving velvet antlers
I am targeting early season mule deer this year and would like to hear others' experiences with preserving the velvet.
Van Dyke taxidermy supply sells a product called "Antler in Velvet Tan" which needs a syringe and needle. Can anybody give their experiences in using this or similar products? Am I better off doing this in the field? If so, it would be back at the truck because I don't see myself carrying a quart of formaldehyde-type preservative in my pack for a couple of reasons. How long after killing the deer does it need to be injected in late August temperatures?
I remember a thread here on how taxidermists can apply a fake velvet to antlers but I'm trying to preserve the velvet as my plan A.
Thanks in advance for your help and experiences!
EDITED: I'll be chasing Nevada deer starting August 10 and then Colorado deer in late August. Will the deer around August 10 be hard-horned under the velvet? Or soft-horned under velvet? Does this affect the preservation of the antlers and velvet?
Lil light reading for ya...
I'm no expert, but I killed my velvet muley last year on August 30th in the afternoon. Injected it with the "Antler in Velvet Tan" the next morning and had no issues. I also soaked in in denatured alcohol too.
I shot this mulie in Alberta & we put it in the freezer within a few hours of killing him. I flew back home & put him in the freezer again till I got to my taxidermist a few days later. We did the injection method but evidently didn't do a thorough job because it started smelling a few days later. The smell wasn't terrible but we ended up using achohol & coating it with borax as well. The smell eventually went away after a couple weeks & the velvet looks good on the mount as well, even after 7-8 years.
I don't know if freezing it beforehand caused it not to take the formaldehyde properly or if we didn't do it quite right.
IMO, the fake velvet doesn't look nearly as nice as the natural velvet if preserved properly. The fake stuff looks way too perfect.
Most of it depends on how close to loosing the velvet the buck is actually at.
Be super careful and minimize handling the horns at all, especially do not drag or move it by the horns.
Your best bet is if you have a freeze-drier nearby-
If you cap the skull out after caping the buck out, slit the very tips of the horns, and inject it from the bases and vanes until it runs clear if you are actually attempting this with the chemical antler stuff.
Like all of the taxidermists stress- treat the cape and velvet like you would a steak, keep it cool and out of the sun and dirt and you should be good if you get it to someone who knows what to do with it.
I think 90% of the fake velvet looks dumb
I sent my sons velvet elk antlers to Huffmans Taxidermy in Trinidad to get freeze dried
Charged by the pound - worked out great
That's a great picture of your son cnelk.
As a taxidermist I hate preserving the velvet. I prefer doing the artificial which I can do in my shop and don't have to ship it out. No worrying about missing a few spots, no smell, no bugs. If you are worried about it looking too perfect the artificial can be scratched, scarred, torn, left hanging off, etc. Real velvet is very full and "fluffy'' looking but after preserving it always looks matted and actually kinda ugly. A good artificial velvet will look great and it can be matched extremely close to the real color of the velvet. Just do a search here for one of Dennis Razza's threads on mounting a buck with artificial velvet and you will be amazed. Good luck on your hunt!
I'll be following this thread. I've been debating if I want to preserve the velvet or not. It's such a conundrum being that my wife and I both have tags and also are 600 miles from home, on a 9 day hunt. Preserve it or use artificial, hmm? That is if we kill and want to mount the deer.
With the right technique and materials, artificial looks as good as the real thing. As mentioned, a lot of people say the artificial looks fake because they are use to seeing the flat and matted look.
I just killed a blacktail a week ago and I injected it really well getting most of blood out but beings is still really soft I will get it freeze dried as well for insurance. I've killed Muleys close to shedding and u can get away without injecting just soaking them in alcohol . I would still recommend injecting if u can and soaking them in denatured alcohol as iceman stated for safety precautions. Very little fake velvet looks real. If u go with fake check out Jason snowberger out of Pennsylvania his stuff is really nice!!
I've got a bou I shot in'96 north of the Brooks. I spent many hours with needle and formaldehyde. It was 12 Aug and after using 2 quarts I put each beam in a giant plastic bag with formaldehyde puddled in the bottom. After a few days I took it out. We flew out to Galbraith Lake and I took it home to Wasilla.
It was very soft and I hung it in a cold basement all winter.
It's mounted and up in the peak of our vaulted living room. I challenge anyone to find a flattened dried out spot. It's as fuzzy as they get.
I think freezing and then trying to treat it is doomed to failure if you are trying to force the blood out.
I shot my buck 14 yrs ago.. in full velvet,taxidermist freeze dried it.. it worked great,, still looks as good today.
Freeze it in THE" Freezer "works great
If frozen for a while, it will still need to be preserved, as the blood is still there. If not, you WILL get bugs eventually.
Well I have over 6 velvet, all sitting up on my cupboards and never ever have I had bugs, then again I live in mt, most bugs down south can't hang with our temps, oldest is 14 years old , never ever seen a bug or peeling, if you freeze dry seems to work well, just my way been working for some time
My taxidermist buddy I know prefers to use fermaldhyde over velvet tan. He injects it into the veins and replaces the blood. Also injects it through out the antler. He then lightly brushes it on the velvet. He will then fluff the velvet a couple times a week for a few weeks. The velvet looks awesome when he's does. Just like it did when the buck was alive
Research Manakins for the fake velvet. They offer three colors to match your trophy. Personally, I strip the velvet then stain them for hard horned. Don't like velvet. My son stripped his Alberta Mulie then had the artificial done in 2006. Still looks perfect and likely will in 30 more years! Good luck with what ever you decide!
Both animals in the pic attached were shot in velvet, stripped then stained.