Some of the unreal mule deer mounts in the Muley Crazy booth at the 2011 Western Hunting and Conservation Expo.
The 2011 Western Hunting Conservation Expo show found my good friend Ryan and I checking out the products and amazing antlers. Most importantly by attending the show I validated my applications for some limited entry mule deer and elk tags that the expo offers at $5 per each hunt application. You are then required to validate your application at the show. And for a poor boy like myself this others another chance to "possibly" hunt on some of the premium public land Utah has to offer. Now my chances to be drawn border on slim to nil but slim is better not entering at all.
There are plenty of amazing mounts of trophy animals all around the show. As always the Mossback booth had many amazing mule deer and elk mounts. Muley Crazy also had some of the most incredible mule deer I have ever seen.
Most of the mounts just didn't look real... just amazing antlers. Kind of made me feel a little inferior with the "small" bucks and bulls I work so hard to get on the general public lands I hunt. But after I snapped back to me senses I remembered that antlers aren't the reason that I hunt. I hunt for the experience and if I can find something I would like to shoot that's just a bonus.
Two products really caught my eye at the show, some European skull mounting brackets and some Big Game Bags.
Skull Hooker — European Skull Mounting Brackets
The first product that caught my eye was European Skull mounting brackets. Skull Hooker has a really attractive and neat system to place European Skull mounts on the wall. It's an adjustable metal bracket system that allows you to easily position the angle and direction the your mount is facing. The skull hangs from a three prong fork with the long center fork being inserting into the brain cavity and the two shorter forks holding the the skull in place around the outside of the brain cavity.
Side view European skull mounted mule deer with Skull Hooker mounting bracket.
Bottom view European skull mounted mule deer with Skull Hooker mounting bracket.
Large Skull Hooker mounting bracket for elk and other large animals.
Deer sized Skull Hooker European skull mounting bracket.
What a cool product. I might think about giving these European skull mounting brackets a try with the Do-It-Yourself European skull mounts I make... Well, maybe not, after checking out their website these brackets are not cheap, especially for a DIY guy trying to save a buck. I'll probably make some mounting plaques for this past season's Mule Deer and Elk I took in 2010 and Dallen's first Mule Deer he took in 2010, three European skull mounts I'm bleaching right now. I still really like my homemade plagues to hold the European skull mounts, they just take a little time to make.
For more information on the Skull Hooker Mounting Brackets check out skullhooker.com.
Caribou Gear — Big Game Bags
Stacked on top of each other in the foreground are the different sizes of bags that they offer. They offer many very large bags for elk and moose quarters etc. The bags that interested me are the two smallest ones, one they call the Camp Meat Bag and I think the other one is called the Carnivore Bag. The Camp Meat bag looks like it would hold around 15-20 pounds of meat if filled.
Here are some Caribou Gear Big Game Bags kits. The black Carnivore pouch in the foreground has four bags in it and the total carry weight is 14 ounces. The size of bags in this pouch are about double the size of my large meat bags. I would guess that if I were to fill one of these bags there would be 70 lbs of meat in the bag. I like around 30 pounds or less per bag making it easier to manage. If I were to use this size of bag I would not fill the bags all the way full.
The other product that caught my attention was some lightweight big game bags from Caribou Gear. At first glance the bags looked to be very wimpy. They are made from a very thin "synthetic" fabric. Apparently a secret blend of ingredients that make the fabric very light and breathable, wicking moisture away from the meat, buying time in keeping the meat from spoiling. Excellent qualities for meat care in the field.
The feature I really liked was that I could probably shed 2 pounds of weight from my pack by using meat bags like this compared to the homemade canvas big game meat bags that I use to haul my mule deer and elk off the mountain. They claim their fabric and bags can take the abuse and the weight in meat they will be called to carry in the field — marketing them to the hard core hunter. I might have to give these bags a good field testing myself.
For more information about Caribou Gear's Big Game Bags check out biggamebags.com.
April 2012: You can read more of my thoughts on Caribou Gear's big game bags at the bottom of my DIY Heavy Duty Canvas Big Game Bags article.
Here are a few more photos of the sights around the show.
A small portion of the taxidermy work being judged at the show.
Some nice deer and sheep taxidermy on display.
Some of the mule deer and elk in Mossback's very large booth.
For more information about the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo check out huntexpo.com.