Posts Tagged ‘carving african animals’
Another rifle with a story to tell …
The story behind this custom carved gunstock is that it started with a Weatherby Vangard rifle purchased with a tax return check. The stock was added a few years later and shaped from a Maple Burl gunstock blank the the owner had been saving for the right rifle project. It was shaped by a company specializing in aftermarket wood gunstocks. Fast forward two years and a hunt of a lifetime was planned. A trip to Texas to hunt the largest Antelope in the world, The African Eland. They can tip the scales at almost a ton! The owner was sure he would never make it to Africa to hunt but had always wanted to hunt Eland. By going to hunt the Eland in Texas, there was the bonus of filling the freezer with steaks. After his trip he wanted to add a memory to his stock to commemorate the hunt. Carving African animals, any type of African animal is one of my favorite carvings to do so I was happy to do this carving for him.
Here is some information about The African Eland courtesy of Wikipedia:
The elands are spiral-horned antelopes belonging to the Bovid tribe of Tragelaphini. Females weigh 660–1,300 lb, and stand 49–60 in at the shoulder. Bulls weigh 880–2,200 lb, and stand 59–72 in at the shoulder. Coats are generally smooth at most of the body with a rough mane. Females have a tan coat, while males have a darker tan coat with a blueish-grey tinge; there may also be a series of white stripes vertically on the sides of bulls (mainly in parts of the Karoo in South Africa). But as males age they tend to turn a grayer color. Males have dense fur on their foreheads and a large dewlap. Both sexes have horns, about 26 in long and with a steady spiral ridge (resembling that of the bushbuck). The horns of males are shorter (17–26 in) and thicker than the females (20–27 in), which are more pointed. The female’s horns are wider set and thinner than the male’s. The eland has a mass of about 650 kilograms, which is the double of the kudu. They have a hump at the shoulder and a broad fold of skin hanging from the neck. Elands are said to be one of the slowest antelopes and can even jump over a height of 2.5 meters or above. Elands have an average lifespan of 15–20 years, and some have been known to live for as many as 25 years. When walking, tendon or joints in the eland’s foreleg produce a sharp clicking sound, the cause of which has not been widely investigated. The sound carries some distance and is a good indication of an approaching herd. Scientists take it as a form of communication in elands.
The Maple Burl stock blank had been air dried for five years before shaping it into the gun stock. Maple is a dense wood so it took the detail very well. I did use photos of the client’s Eland to do the initial drawing and designing of the final design. The Burl in the buttstock was too beautiful to carve over so I used a freeform border design and worked the Eland into the Burl without taking away from the natural grain. The stock’s pistol grip and forend were done with a Basket Weave & Oak Leaves combination. The caliber was a .300 Weatherby magnum so a good solid grip style was requested and a basket weave fit the bill with both solid grip and classic looks.
This is a working rifle that gets used even with the carvings. I am always happy to see a client happy with the work and also planning to continue to hunt with the rifle. It is always good to know there will be more memories made with this family heirloom. To develop your own heirloom, drop me a line.
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Custom gunstock carving is very rewarding. The creative relationship between you and your carving client is a truly enjoyable collaborative effort. In the time I have been carving gunstocks, I’ve found that many clients had the ideas for their stock for quite a while but couldn’t find a way to accomplish it.
Most clients will have you carve something in their gunstock that really means something special to them. It may be initials; it may be a type of game animal they love to pursue. But it may also be a very special animal they want to remember and celebrate. Their son’s first buck, their once-in-a-lifetime huge bull elk, or a project like I just finished. A hunter’s trophy Cape Buffalo carved in the rifle he used to take it.
I really wanted to find a way to personalize this carving. To acheive this, I ask my client for photos. I have my clients provide me photos of the hunt, photos of the animal taken in the field, and photos of the mounted animal. If the animal has horns or antlers, I ask for as many photo angles of the head as possible. Since I am going to carve a portrait of this animal to the best of my ability, all the reference material possible is needed. Then the design starts………
When I talked with my client about his Buffalo, he explained to me how the buffalo bull was standing when came out of the bush. My client wanted the carving to show the buffalo just like he was at the shot. He wanted to save the memory of that moment. And I intended to do everything in my power to do just that for him. I found a few Cape buffalo photos that showed them standing at the angle I needed. Then I decided which of the photos the client gave me showed the head and horns at the best angle to fit the body. After tracing both pictures they had to be sized individually to make sure the head fit the body. Then I reduced the size of the carving pattern to fit the gunstock. This is a time consuming but necessary step for success.
I took the time to do three pattern options for his Cape buffalo carving and let him choose the pattern he wanted. I also asked him if he wanted anything on the side of the rifle. His Stock had fantastic checkering and we had decided not to touch that part of the stock. He said he liked the big cats so I agreed to put an African Lion carving on one side and a Leopard carving on the other side of the rifle. We also decided that since the walnut stock had such beautiful grain, the carving would be done in an inlay style. That way it added to the beauty of the wood grain, it didn’t cover it up.
I won’t go into all the carving steps here. But it is important that you research any animals you intend to carve. We’ve all seen Mule deer and Elk, but do you know how the horns differ between an Eland, a Kudu, or an Nyala? Carving African animals are very different than North American game animals, so research, reference photos, and practice is imperative to give the client the animal he wants.
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