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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Taxidermists and knowledgable hunters, please post all and any advice on how to choose a taxidermist, in this thread.

Keep in mind- the sweetness of low price can be easily replaced by the bitterness of low quality, so never choose by price alone. And yes I know some taxidermists out there do charge high but put out bad work and/ or bad attitudes, and some charge alot less and put out very good work.

This thread is meant to inform of how to figure out just what is low quality vs what is high quality. Also fellow taxidermists and knowledgable hunters, please post about proper field care. You can have the best taxidermist ever, but if you let your 700 pound bear sit in 60 degree weather for 3 days while showing it to everyone...you get the picture!
 

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Taken from the PTA website....www.pataxidermy.com

Choose your taxidermist carefully

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We've all heard the horror stories about how a friend shot this beautiful, enormous whitetail. He takes it to a guy down the street that assures him that "he can handle the job" of turning this thing into a life-like wall-hanging trophy. The hunter finally gets his deer mount back and swears it is not the deer he shot! To make matters worse, the deer begins to "shrink" once hung in the den and within months the wife is threatening divorce if the "eye-sore" is not retired to the attic!

Choosing a taxidermist is sometimes like playing the lottery; there is always a chance you could choose the right one. The PTA suggests a few things to help sportsmen decide if the taxidermist chosen is the right one for them.

Is (s)he licensed by the state?
In Pennsylvania, a taxidermist must be licensed by the PA Department of Agriculture. In the case of waterfowl or migratory birds, a taxidermist must also hold a federal taxidermy license.

Reputation.
Simply put, "Have you heard anything bad about the person?" If so, check it out thoroughly. A taxidermist can never please everyone, but it's not out of line to ask for a client list and simply call a few of these and ask them if they were satisfied with the taxidermy work.

Don't be afraid to ask questions.
Will you guarantee your work? Do you use professionally tanned skins?; Or use dry preservatives? May I see a few finished mounts? How much expertise do you have? Do you have insurance in case something happens to my valuable trophy? Above all, go and look at the individual's work, don't just shop for a cheap price and quick turn-around over the phone. Make an appointment with the taxidermist and ask your questions directly.

Price.
Price of the finished mount is always a tough call and sometimes hunters get hung up on the price alone. Consider price carefully and always remember the saying "you get what you pay for" wasn't dreamed up yesterday. If one taxidermist is mounting deer heads for $150 less than most others, be suspicous of the quality going into the work. Buy the best quality you can afford. After all, you may have waited a lifetime for this special trophy. Picking your taxidermist carefully will assure your trophy really will last a lifetime.
 

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Here is another post I wrote that is also applicable here.

...did it ever occur to you that full time taxidermists that are "backed up" with work are that busy because of demand????

Part time taxidermists can be backed up for the above reason as well (because of demand) or they can be backed up because taxidermy could not support them and their families and they were forced to get another job (as it appears to be the case in this post). Unfortunately, many taxidermists are lousy business people. They price their work so the "common man can afford it". As a result, they find it very difficult to make a living from taxidermy alone and have to get second (or third) jobs just to survive. Taxidermy, at that point, becomes a burden and often takes a back seat leaving the taxidermy client very ticked off and posting things like this on the internet (very rightly so, I might add).

To say that "any taxi that takes more than 5 months 6 max, isnt worth a grain" is preposterous. Most high quality studios in PA today are averaging a 1 year turn around. This is due entirely to the volume of work they are taking in---because people WANT that work and are willing to wait for it.

Here is a good way to look at it...."Its a Friday night and you are new in town and looking for a place to eat. Are you going to go to the restaurant with the full parking lot and a 30 minute wait or are you going to find a place with no one eating there?"
Think about it!
 

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As a taxidermist in PA since the erly 1980's, I was previously licensed by the PA Game Commission, and in 2004 it changed to the PA Dept of Ag. As a rsult, Taxidermists no longer have to take a grueling test to be licensed in PA. When I took my test, there was 23 applicants and three passed. Just about anyone can now be a Taxidermist, so beware if they advertise that they are licensed. Doesn't mean much anymore.
Rather go to the shop and ask to see the commercial work. Not the award winning mounts or just the ones in the show room. Ask to see mounts that are awaiting pick up from other clients. If they look good and then ask about price. Quality work should be priced on the high side. I have mounts that I did 25 years ago that look as good as anything being done today. And for gods sake don't use the yellow pages the day after you shot your big buck and ask whats the price?
 

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Here's my .02 cents on the discussion. First, I HATE the term you get what you pay for. Yes, it can be used in some instances but not as a blanket statement. I hear more and more when discussing taxidermists "don't go cheap". It just seems as though when buying anything else under the sun everyone wants to get the best value for the best price but when it comes to taxidermy anyone who has a cheap price it's because of inferior work. Now granted, not everyone feels this way but I do see it more times than not when reading through posts. I look at 4 main criteria. First is quality of work. There are going to be a handful of taxidermist you find that all do good work. Some may be better than others but ALL of them in the group you've selected do work that you like. the ones that do poorer work will be eliminated from my list. The way I see it there's only one who can be the best...the rest all fall under the category of good. Once I have a handful I'll get references and ask around. When doing this I ask 2 things. First...how long does he/she take? and second...What type of person are they? Are they someone you could drink a beer with and hold a conversation. This second question may sound odd but here's my reasoning. This individual is going to mount an animal for me so I may be talking with them quite a bit over the next few months. I may talk to them awhile when I drop it off and even when I pick it up. If all goes well I'll probably have a ton of other animals to drop off over the rest of my life. All in all I'll probably end up getting to know the person fairly well. In that situation I want to be sure they don't have the personality of a door knob and are miserable to boot. Getting something mounted is an experience in itself. You'll relay your hunt with the taxidermist, maybe chat about some of the work they're currently doing, look around at some of the other unique mounts etc... Personality is a huge factor for me. I've met some that have the attitude of "just drop it off and go...I have work to do". Guess what, I'll go but I'm not dropping it off.

After I answer these question I'll have a list of taxidermists that all fit the bill. I'm sorry to say that at this point it's all about price. If I have 5 shops that meet all my other criteria then I'm going to the cheapest one out there. I did my homework, I know the job will get done right so I'm shopping just like I would for anything else.
 

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I get where your coming from, but when there are bills coming in, and animals needing done, dont you think that a taxidermist who takes the time to get to know you may need to up the price to stay in business? If I sit and chat for a half hour, thats a half hour of work that i have lost. Thats money not coming in, thats others mounts that will take longer to do. With one person.......no worries, but when you leave, someone else walks in. Do I now make sure that I talk to him as long as I did you. This all adds up over time. Are we looking for a quality taxidermist at a fair price, or a buddy to hang out with and swap stories? If your looking for a guy who you would have a beer with, dont be surprised if its going to cost a bit more. Just some things to think about.
 

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X2, Time is money!
Story tellers have good intentions but the meter is running.
That's why I don't advertise and it's by appointment only.
 

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I am glad you asked. For me The guy I deal with now--well I will not advertise as I find it unethical. What I did was shopped around--I found a guy who had a reputation, and a long waiting list. I asked him to see NOT just deer, but African game he was working on, Bear, Turkeys, Fish, and Waterfowl,foxes, wolves, and asked him if he ever did any snakes. I compared his work to others, and based a decision on that. There is a reason so many go to him, and wait. I looked at some other folks work, and although ok, the final mount simply didn'y look as alive as the guys work I had looked at. Also I had a recommendation to a guy who had did work for a buddy--upon completion the mold that was used for his shoulder mount was facing the opposite direction he specified. The eyes looked bad, and the taxi said as a favor he did some extra work--laid the ears back slightly. After I looked at the finished mount--well the first thing I would have done was to peel down the hide, and remove the skull plate from the mold, remove the glass eyes because I paid for them, and throw the rest in the trash. I am one who does believe you get what you pay in taxidermy. The guy I spoke of is doing a shoulder mount whitetail for $100.00 less than the hidious one I looked at that is a buddies.
 

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I'll add a little note for the hunters. The two most common issues I see, as far as field care goes, are bare spots or broken hair on the cape from dragging, and cutting capes in the wrong places. It is best to not drag the deer at all, but if it must be done take care to keep the head and front shoulders up off the ground or off of rough ground and try to keep the drag as short as possible. I tell all my clients to use a sled or cart if at all possible, and they all know they can use mine if they want.
As far as removing the cape goes, I recommend not cutting past the ribs. Once you get to the bottom of the rib cage, cut around the deer in a circle from that point. Then you can circle cut the front legs at the knees. That leaves me some extra cape to work with and the hunter room for error.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I get tired of the front leg/brisket area being cut wrong ( some guys just can't figure out how to case skin the legs- and I'm not strong enough to pull that area myself). To cut along the legs cut where the brown fur meets the white fur and through the longer fur further back to meet the cut that was made to the chest when gutting. This leaves a nice long brisket and plenty of the short hair in between the legs.

I just got 2 deer in the other night where the guy made the cuts wrong and the whole brisket section was a bit too short, and I don't know how many times I have told him- not to mention the 2 piebalds I skinned for him while he watched, where I made the same exact cuts ( must be the white fur confused him). I think he needs new glasses and a hearing aid- or have his bright all senses intact teenage son do the caping-seriously! The skin was still there as he left the full hide attached, but sewing that back together is a bit of extra time, and most taxidermists do charge extra for it.

Next time I have a whole deer hanging ( even if it's a doe fawn) I'm going to take pics as I skin the cape out as if it were a buck I'm skinning for a mount. The pics will then be on my web page( and give a copy showing the incision to the hunter I mentioned LOL) and I may start a "field care" sticky here as well.
 

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Talk to as many picky knowledgeable people as possible! Price doesn't always indicate QUALITY!
 

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martinshooter said:
go to the shops and see what you like.
That is the first step, but really look carefully at the eyes, ears, mouth. Do they have a expression and look life like or does it look like a sack of sand? I remember after I moved to my current location going around to four local shops (before I had a animal that needed taxidermy), 2 were awful and 2 were OK.
 

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I like to go to the shop and look at the show room.
Then you can tell alot about the taxidermist when talking to him or her.
If they have a fairly clean shop and organized, it says a lot to me.
I do not like going to an assembly line shop where there are several people working on each animal.
I like to go to an individual that takes pride in each job and used high quality materials.
I also ask others for reviews. That says alot.
I know one that is very picky and does excellent work. Not good, but excellent.
I believe you do get what you pay for to an extent.
If someone says they can mount a deer for $175 and another is close to $500, I question the quality of the cheaper one.
Of all the places I looked at, the better quality always was a little more expensive.
 

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I think finding someone who does good work and is reasonable in price.Is what most of us look for. The key is finding someone who cares about there work the way we care about the work we give them.
 

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The key is finding someone who cares about there work the way we care about the work we give them.

Well said! If they dont take pride in there work and the customers satisfaction the customer surely isnt going to be proud to display it!
 

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My buddy and I planned to go after bobcat this past season. I spent a few months prior to the season shopping for a taxidermist. No one local was in the running. I searched the internet images and compared mounts and when I found something I liked I researched the taxidermist. One of the cats we got in Texas I am getting mounted.

My advice:
Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you are pushed to find a taxidermist before the critter spoils.

Shop around. I have seen all types of mounts on the internet, from quality to downright sad.

Make sure you have seen the work they have done.

Choose someone who has pride in the work they do.

Start saving ahead of time, you will need a deposit.

It’s not all about the money. You can pay the same amount for a bad mount as you can for a good mount, chose your taxidermist wisely.

Just like hunting and trapping, you get what you put into it. If you put the time and money in the right place, you hopefully will get a trophy mount back.

I shipped my cat out last Tuesday. They are going to send photos as the work progresses. We have exchanged emails prior to shipping choosing the correct mount that will best display the cat.

Good luck!

EC
 

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go to the pa taxidermist association website and learn about their certified taxidermists program (PTACT). Check those shops out first, at least you know they have meet certain criteria and are being held to a professional standard.
 
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