Film Reasearch, Why did you want to become a Taxidermist

Submitted by Chris Getliffe on 2/18/02. ( )

I am reasearching a inderpendent film involving taxidermy, and i have a few queries that i hope your readers would be kind enough to help me with

1. How did you get into Taxidermy, how old were you when you decided that was the vocation you wished to do.

2. Why did you find the field of Taxidermy so appealing.

3. Is there a strong sense of comunity between Taxidermists (By which i mean, admiration for leading Taxidermists, competions, displays etc..).

4. How is your profesion deemed by your comunity, friends and family.

Any information on these questions would be greatly apprciated,

Many Thanks


Kitchen District Productions

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Dead things don't talk back

This response submitted by Bill K. on 2/18/02. ( )

1.) I went to school to start out but if I could do it again I would have studied lots of videos and attended some one on one sessions with some prominent established taxidermists. I was 39 when I decided that playing with dead smelly animals was the life for me.

2.) The most appealing thing about taxidermy to me is the fact that I can run around my shop with scissors any time I want to and nobody can tell me not to.

3.) Yes. There is a strong sense community for MOST taxidermist. I regard most of the people on this forum as my colleagues (except for George and John, they are my heroes).

4.) My community looks at me as if I was some kind of god. My family and friends think I'm a bum.


This response submitted by Nada on 2/18/02. ( )

Don't know why..but something not right about this request.


This response submitted by LH on 2/18/02. ( )

Paranoid? Well, it IS as bad as you think and they ARE out to get us.LOL I cannot imagine how these questions can kill taxidermy - at least not any more efficiently than the efforts of a few curmudgeons on here. In any event, I'll bite
1) Always wanted to do it, so I found someone to teach me when I was about 24. STill haven't made a million.
2) Seemed like a narural extension of my interest in hunting and wildlife. I've always had a penchant for art and love wild things, so I blended the two.
3) There sure is. Despite the occasional spat you find on this site, in reality, we're like Irish brothers. We may fight amongst oursleves, but take a swing at on of us from the outside and you get us all at one time. This site is the very epitome of community. I've learned more by just asking stupid questions here than any school can teach. And there are lotsa great guys to offer information pro bono.
4) A lot of the locals hunt and fish. But they don't have the talent or skill to recreate the animals/ fish they harvest. I do. Taxidermy is an art form and a vocation. It's like handing ten people a pencil and pad and telling them to draw what they see. Most will produce a pretty bad work of, er, "art". But, how many will provide a piece that looks nearly exactly like it does in its original form? That's the job of the taxidermist - recreate what nature did perfectly. If you don't hunt, I ain't that important. If you do, I'm your best friend come November!

I'm being profiled !

This response submitted by Mr. Bill on 2/18/02. ( )

Oh noooooooooooooo...

I'll Bite

This response submitted by Kudu Kid on 2/18/02. ( )

1. I started messing with taxidermy at age 14 because I thought it was "neat". Initially I thought this vocation would allow me time to hunt and fish. LOL Also, in high school I had a teacher tell me owning and operating a studio was unrealistic, so I went and did it. Twenty years later, I now work for a nice studio but am still doing it.
2. I enjoy the opportunity to create true art, and I didn't get to play with enough clay as a child.
3. I'll be honest, I feel there is a rift between professional's (people that do this full time), and nonprofessional's. I have respect for those that do this, day in and day out, dealing with the headaches and am quite willing to offer advice and support. But people just dabbling in it, I don't have time for. If they want to play, then get in the game. Yes, I know I started messing with it when I was 14, but I was a child, come 18, I was doing this for a living, and belive me, I paid my dues.
As far as competitions, they are occasionally fun to visit and compete, but the more succesfull studios don't mess with them much. They spend their time rubbing shoulders with the big money at Safari Club and Sheep Show's.
4. Family support is high, because I'm good at what I do, and the money is good. Community support depends on the community. Some persons build homes revolving around their trophy rooms. Some have their childs first harvest preserved forever. Some, could care less.

Same post

This response submitted by Tim on 2/19/02. ( )

There was a post the same as this one a while back.It was from a father I think asking these same questions for his son for a project at school.That is if I remember correctly.

Kudu Kid- The reason for rift:

This response submitted by PA on 2/19/02. ( )

The reason for the Rift:

"3. I'll be honest, I feel there is a rift between professional's (people that do this full time), and nonprofessional's. I have respect for those that do this, day in and day out, dealing with the headaches and am quite willing to offer advice and support. But people just dabbling in it, I don't have time for. If they want to play, then get in the game."

Basically, you just called every non-full time taxidermist and unprofessional. Surely you must know that many of the best taxidermists in the country either have a real job or are semi-retired drawing some sort of retirement. Many Part-timers (NOT UNPROFESSIONAL TAXIDERMISTS) just don't feel like doing deer head after deer head in a production line, and because they don't have to compensate for health insurance, retirement, large shop costs, they can charge 3/4 of your fees, spend twice as long preparaing the mount because it is still fun, produce a better mount, and still make money at it.
Even taxidermists who NEVER charge a fee because they are not licenced can still be unbelievably professional taxidermists.
I know you stated professional as full time, but you also mentioned all others as unprofessional. Better to rephrase it as "Professional and Part time" or "full time vs part time" The rift comes from the snobbery of Full Timers.

hey PA your off base....

This response submitted by Frank on 2/19/02. ( )

I did not read that the way you did, but even still there is a huge diffence between part time and full time taxidermist. To say that full time people are snobby... that is not warrented. I am sure that there are riffs between some but truthfully, being in this line of work for some time I have never looked at a fellow taxidermist as competion or a threat to my business. They do there thing and I do mine, I have never run out of work and many a times turn some away. The way I look at it if its going to take me more then a year to get to it, then I have enough.
The statement about being professional.... that is a subject all its own. To me just answering the phone saying just "hello" is un professional. Some one running a biz with out proper zoning, not charging sales tax,doing work for cash money, not being insured, and not backing up ones work... all of this in my eyes is unprofessional.
But these same things go on and on every day in this biz any most others for that matter. Life is way to short to sit and worry about what others do. But still there is the differences that some full timers have to face every day,ie: PAYING THE BILLS. SOme do not have any other income but taxidermy. There is no way a person doing this
part time
can have the same out look on this profession. Call it good or bad its a fact. It doesn't have to be taxidermy that we are talking about here either,but there are very few regulations on being a taxidermist,atleast in most states.And the way supplies are sold to any that can dial a phone you won't see the suppliers change the way things "are".

Definition for PA

This response submitted by Kudu Kid on 2/19/02. ( )

Sorry for maybe stepping on your toes, but if you refer to your Webster: Professional- n. one who makes his living by a sport or occupation, often taken part in by amateurs. Now, please don't say I'm calling part-timer's amateurs, because an amateur is someone who doesn't perform a sport or occupation for a living. Now what would you rather be called, an amateur, or nonprofessional?

Good comments both

This response submitted by PA on 2/19/02. ( )

The only beef I have is the definition of professional. The definitions that I would tend to agree with - from my Websters Unabridged dictionary is number 1. of, engagedin or worthy of high standards of a profession and 5. having much experience and great skill in a specified role. (there is NO mention in my definition of the word amateur!)

Surely the comment by the Kudu kid tells his opinion of everyone who isn't a full time taxidermist - they either are unprofessional or an amateur. I'm sorry that I don't think that narrow. A taxidermist from my home state, PA of cource, won dozens of awards, and the National Champion waterfowl, and believe it or not he was a printer by trade - mounting birds in the evening - about 60-70 waterfowl a year. This is but one example. A professional is one who knows the proper methods to mount the subject and conducts himself in a professional manner.

As Frank correctly pointed out, a professional doesn't just pretend, he acts professional. That means of course following all the proper laws. MANY MANY MANY full time taxidermists don't act professional. How many taxidermists go to a taxidermy convention and wear a suit coat at all times (not just the banquet). If you attend the PA convention I will be the one in a sports jacket.

I stand with my remark of snobbery, but conceed that it only applies to those who think part-time taxidermists are unprofessional.

Good exchange.....

This response submitted by Frank on 2/19/02. ( )

There have been some good points brought up above....I like the dictionary quote, and I love the sport jacket one too. We all set our own guidelines as far as business edicate goes. They way the public views us is a reflection of this.Wether you are part time or full, both, have that choice of wearing a "jacket and tie".I have had customers come to me "just" because I was a "real" business,In THERE EYES. But on the other side... Istarted in a basement and I remember folks coming to me because they thought they where getting a deal, since I did not have the overhead that a bigger biz, might have. So there are two sides to this for sure.

Way off base

This response submitted by Kudu Kid on 2/19/02. ( )

PA, flag of truce, you are reading too far into my post. I never once stated about the quality of parttime taxidermist work. Take for example the olympics. These athletes are the best in the world, but they are nonprofessional and amatures. They do not make their livings at their respected sports. (At least not during the time of the olympic games) We could debate what the definition of is "is". All all know is, no pun intended, when I fill out my taxes, I put "taxidermist" in the little box that says occupation.

Truce for sure.

This response submitted by PA on 2/20/02. ( )

The only "gripe" I had was calling anyone unprofessional if he didn't do it full time, or simply an amateur. I just wanted to point out that virtually everyone who is currently a Full Time Taxidermist started out as a Part Time Taxidermist, but they both can be professional. Derogatory comments do not help further the cause, and the difference in quality is only up to the individual. For a full time taxidermist to say that EVERY taxidermist around him who is part time is either unprofessional or a strict amateur is uncalled for.

My personal definition of what actually makes up of a Professional Taxidermist, off the top of my head, besides quality of the mount and professional attitude would be one who fills out a Schedule C on his income tax. That would include everyone who gets a W-2 from his real job, but also has to fill out a Schedule C with income from taxidermy income. The difference is not great as one derives a portion of his income in the art, and the other all of it. And to clear up the difference I percieve in defining it as a real job - I define job as something you don't necessarily want to do. Working for a factory is a job, working as a taxidermist is a career. If you are part time and your 9-5 job is both a job and a career you are one of the lucky ones.

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