Prairie Mountain Wildlife Studio

Designing & Building World Class Trophy Rooms

For example, many customers would like to see actual running water in their room. This is very possible, but needs to be well thought-out. Regular maintenance is key to any water feature. Also, if the amount of water required is substantial, a good recirculation system is needed to keep the humidity at an acceptable level.  Acrylics and resins can also be used to give the effect of water without the maintenance of water itself. Mural artists are used to create the “fourth dimension”, making it truly feel like one is actually standing on the African savanna, or at the Artic looking at a polar bear. By using great murals, the walls of the room seem to disappear, and the natural landscape comes to life.

The mural artist works directly with customers, using personal hunting photos as a reference to take the customers back to the places that the trophies were harvested. Super enlarged photos can be used like wallpaper, hung up as a backdrop for displays; however, this requires a very high quality photo. The first step is to make the room functional for the home or business that the display will be in so as to not waste any space. Prairie Mountain has put walk-in gun safes inside of mountains. A large mountain could also also encompass a bathroom, bedroom, or storage, or a smaller one could simply contain a crawl space to attach mounts from the inside. Also, the entrance to a trophy room can be through a cave that is built into the mountain.

After the initial walk-through and consultation, a scale model will be built, and can be used as a conceptual tool to plan placement of animals, trees, murals, and any extras. Once the scale model has been reviewed and approved, construction moves forward. In many cases, the customer`s carpenter will frame in the plywood structure underneath the mountain. Having a carpentry background himself, Chris of Prairie Mountain can draw a set of plans for the carpenter to follow. Alternatively, if Prairie Mountain is involved from the beginning stages, the house architect can simply draw the room in. While building the structure, one factor that should not be overlooked is the lighting, both from above and from within the displays. Boulders in the foreground can be used to hide lights inside of the rocks or to backlight from the ground up. An electrician is always used to ensure local electrical codes are met.

Air-conditioning vents can be hidden inside of trees so that the leaves rustle when the air is on. When the Prairie Mountain team arrives on-site, there is already a plywood structure in place, and the rock façade is then built over it. It is recommended that the walls surrounding the diorama are plywood covered in sheetrock with no texture. This allows the mural artists to paint directly on the sheetrock.  Alternatively, the murals can be prepainted on a large canvas, and stretched and hung like wallpaper. Also, enlarged photos can be hung on smooth sheetrock. Pre-fabricated rock panels will be brought in as large sheets. Those panels will be screwed onto the plywood structure, wrapping it with rock panels and attaching the mounts so that they are displayed in a natural setting in perfect union, from hoof to rock. Placement, elevation and direction of the mounts are all vital to bringing the room together. Animals are placed either in interaction with one another, or else looking into the center of the room. Once all of the rock panels and the mounts are placed, seams are pieced in until only very small gaps remain, which are then filled with expanding foam. The foam is cut and covered with an epoxy to make all seams disappear. Once the rock structure is finished, it is painted to achieve the desired look.

This painting of the rock is critical and ultimately the customer`s choice; perhaps a gray, speckled granite look is desired, or maybe a red desert sandstone look. Whether one color or many, Prairie Mountain is able to achieve a convincing scene of the animal in its own natural habitat. Color can be transitioned with the landscape of the mountain, from low desert areas for desert sheep to the snow-capped mountains for doll and stone species. Although often requiring more space, the presence of animals can be used to create a virtual hunting trip around the world, with jungles, rainforests, deserts, prairies, mountains, Artic tundra, and savannas all in a single room. Artificial tree barks made of similar material to the rock can be used to add to the outdoor illusion. Additionally, artificial silk leaves add to the trees` authenticity. Whether it is a 6 foot aspen tree with a whitetail scraping it, a twisted acacia with a leopard lounging in it, or a 35 foot pine tree that is encasing a structural beam, all of these features complete the room. Prairie Mountain uses natural dirts, sands, and mulches in combination with both preserved and high quality artificial plants and shrubs to mimic the natural landscape. Additionally, natural leaves, grasses, and pine needles are used to give the ground cover a realistic look. It is also important to consider the transition from the trophy room staged in the outdoors to the real-life living quarters of the house. Using rustic logs, building a border out of natural stones, or having a cabinet maker bend an elegant flowing piece of mahogany are all techniques Prairie Mountain uses to help in this transition and tie these two distinct areas together. When considering building that new trophy room, be sure to talk to others that have had similar work done, as well as professionals that work on such projects on a daily basis. Remember that imagination is the only limit. In the end, the ideal trophy room will be functional and display to the trophies to fullest, yet will reflect the unique personality of the customer. It should tell the story of those treasured hunts and adventures without a single word needing to be spoken