Tag Archives: cape buffalo carving

Custom Gunstock Carvings in the Arizona State Fair

My Arizona State Fair carvings update

     This year I submitted three custom carvings in the wood carving division of The 2010 Arizona State Fair and was very pleased with the results.   I really tried to stretch out of my comfort zone into areas that were new to me.   Using oil paints and stains to augment the carving is an area I needed to improve upon so I worked hard on this with these entries.

     In the Gunstock carving division, my “Dangerous Game” rifle stock that had carving of “Africa’s Big Five” dangerous game animals took first place.   The African Big Five are the Cape Buffalo, African Lion, Leopard, African Elephant, and Black Rhino.  

   I made is a point to try and give each animal individual traits or scars.  If you look closely, you can see the cape buffalo has  scars across his nose from a lion attack.   The big Bull Elephant is covered with caked on reddish colored mud to protect the skin from the harse African sun.   The Rhino has a very long horn that I copied from a circa 1920’s photograph.   I gave the Lion a mane like the MGM Lion in the movies.   And well, all Leopards have spots and rosettes, so I tried to give my cat a different look – like he is casting one more backwards glace before melting into the bush.  

It is carved on an old Monte Carlo style stock for a 1903A3 Springfield rifle.  The wood is a light colored walnut that was very popular in the 1960’s, as was the Monte Carlo stock style.  






     In another carving division, I entered my “Leaf  Rifle” stock featured in an earlier blog.  This carving earned the Blue ribbon in it’s division.   The stock was completely covered with Oak Leaves and Acorns.   This was a undertaking that had a huge design phase.  The leaves all had to flow down the stock, not just lie in a pile.  Also each leave had to be an individual, not just copies of the same leaf.  There were over 125 Oak Leaves on the rifle stock and 25 or more Acorns added to the carving.  

     The stock was a light colored hardwood so once again staining and painting of the leaves to give them true depth, variation, and contrast was a real concern.   The photos show the completed rifle complete with scope, flashlight, and laser sight.   This is my personal rifle and so far, it has turned out to be a fine small game rifle.


    Finally, I entered a Wooden Wall Hanging made of solid Hard Maple and inlaid with a Simulated Ivory carving.   Once again I was fortunate to take first place in this carving division.   The size of this wall hanging is about one foot by three feet.   It is a carving of a sheer mountain cliffside with a pair of Mountain Goats, carved in the Ivory, walking along a almost nonexistent trail up to a waterfall.   The border was carved to look like rocks and boulders.   

     I did find that hard maple is not the best choice for carving.   Although the wood holds detail well, it dulls the fine carving burrs unbelievably fast.  Since the Mountain Goat is one of my favorite North American game animals, this carving hangs in my own den.



Thanks for stoppin’ by…..

Lance  Larson

A Custom Gunstock Carving that tells a Story

Cape buffalo carving on Sako gunstock image A Custom Gunstock Carving that tells a Story

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.Leopard Carving on Sako gunstock image

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.

Thanks for stoppin’ by……

Lance Larson