Should I Bring MY Deer Home?

Submitted by Billy on 3/21/05 at 10:50 PM. ( )

In November of 2003 I took a large twelve point whitetail, that I shot, to a local taxidermist for a shoulder mount. He told me it would take up to a year at the longest to get it back. It's now been one year and four months and still no mount. I called him a couple of weeks ago and was told there were 40 deer ahead of mine. Last deer season I took a large eight pointer and learned to mount them myself and since then I have mounted six others for friends. I'm really pleased with the way my mounts turn out and have been told that my work looks better than anybody elses work around this area. Would it be wrong to go and get my twelve pointer from this guy and mount it myself? I feel he's had plenty of time to have mounted it. Do you think I should get my deposit back? I'd really like to do the work myself but don't want to offend the guy.

Return to Deer Taxidermy Category Menu

I would

This response submitted by Doug on 3/21/05 at 11:25 PM. ( )

Why spend 3-4 hundred when you can get buy at 80-90$? It shouldn't offend him. It wouldn't offend me. Just tell him you learnt taxidermy and want to do it yourself.

Go Get It!

This response submitted by C A on 3/21/05 at 11:40 PM. ( )

You should go get it NOW before he actually does get it mounted. It should not offend him at all. He should give back the deposit also. I would. However, I'm not too sure about the $80-$90 thing.

Well, if he's any good, the deposit is not yours to reclaim

This response submitted by George on 3/21/05 at 11:45 PM. ( )

My contract specifically states that the MINIMUM deposit is used to procure parts for the mount and is therefore NONREFUNDABLE. If a customer pays more than my minimum, then he's entitled to that but one thing for sure: the deer hide has either already been tanned OR it's in the shop freezer which costs money. If you want to reclaim it, expect to pay SOMETHING for what's been done to this point.

I'm with George

This response submitted by Jeff F. on 3/22/05 at 12:02 AM. ( NaturesTrophies@aol )

My contract states "non-refundable" deposit BUT I try to be understanding if a guy is going through hard times. I've given the option of retrieving goods for a skinning and antler removal fee. Peace. Jeff F.

George is right

This response submitted by Carl E on 3/22/05 at 8:30 AM. ( )

However, since it's past his timetable, he should work with get it mounted right away. I'm going to disagree a bit with the others and say that if you hired him and gave him a deposit you should honor your part and finish the deal you started with him. Just my .02, Carl

As a consumer...

This response submitted by Craig on 3/22/05 at 12:51 PM. ( )

one should ask for some guarantees when it comes to time frames. If a taxidermist says he has a year or more backlog then you have to take it for just that. If he says two years or more then I would guess it isn't that important to you that it is completed any time soon. But if they tell the consumer it won't take over a year the consumer should have the sense to ask for this in writing on the receipt.

If the contract is not fullfilled by the time stated then the consumer has every right to get his trophy back (unfinished), less time spent on prepping the cape. If you place a 50% deposit on a head as required by most taxidermists and the total charge was 500.00 that's 250.00 that you lose under some of these contracts I've looked at. What if all that has been done is skinning and salt drying of the cape after a year? That doesn't warrant the taxidermist keeping 250.00 for their time.

No contract should be allowed to rip someone off. Although the feelings run deep that taxidermists should be protected what about the consumer?

I would give you back your

This response submitted by a fool and his money soon part on 3/22/05 at 2:18 PM. ( )

antlers and cape but not the deposit and my 1/2 deposit would of been over 250.00 I would have paperwork involved and sales taxes already paid, maybe the tanning cost with fleshing, sending the hide in or overhead of tanning myself. Everyone forgets general shop overhead to run a business and only sees the actual supply costs etc. PLUS a decent wage is needed for the taxidermist ABOVE gross profit. THIS IS SEPERATE! I am in business to MAKE MONEY and so should all small business persons be. You want it back, fine-here, but no deposit refunds, that is just good business or else the taxidermist would be cheating himself; an all to common occurance for taxidermists today who seem to know very little about business, for proof of that see the comments of Craig, CA, Doug, Carl above.

A fool and his money soon part?

This response submitted by CA on 3/22/05 at 7:32 PM. ( )

Perhaps I should have elaborated a little more... I would give Billy back his deposit minus my cost for materials and time involved. It is just common sense to expect to have to pay that, so sorry I did not mention it earlier. However, his taxidermist told him it would take "up to a year" to complete. He took longer. The taxidermist broke the contract, not Billy. If I were this taxidermist, I would do as I previously stated, and apologize for breaking my word to Billy. My word is my contract (although I do provide a written one upon request). A business man who can't keep his word, can't keep his business. I do what I say I will do. Period. This makes happy customers. Happy customers talk. Unhappy customers talk more. My business continues to thrive with this attitude. True, it may cost me pennies now, but it seems to always pay dollars later. I actually had this exact situation happen to me, and I handled it like I said. In turn, the "hobby" taxidermist has sent numerous customers to me. That my friend is good business. Oh but wait... I forgot that I know very little about business.

a fool and his money soon part !

This response submitted by Billy on 3/22/05 at 8:26 PM. ( )

To a fool and his money soon part, isn't the taxidermist cheating himself by not completing the mount in the time frame that he stated? He dp's all his mounts so what kind of supplies would he have invested in the deer? I'm not sure on this but I would say the head is still in the freezer and untouched. I learned today that he's been spending all his time lately muskie fishing , so it doesn't sound like he's in to big of a hurry to get caught up.

Billy, what do you do on your time off?

This response submitted by George on 3/22/05 at 9:27 PM. ( )

God bless him if he's fishing. Some of us live this job 24-7. That leads to burn out, the type that 90% of us suffer at one time or another. Because he's fishing hardly means he hasn't spent 8 to 10 hours working on other mounts. Trust me on this one, don't cast judgment in stone too quickly as you've suddenly joined the clan and will eventually find out yourself.

As for his "expenses", he's already fleshed your hide(maybe) but for sure, he's paid his electric bill for over a year and he's certainly caped your animal out. Do you know if he hasn't already ordered your form (many of us order a years worth of forms in late December so we can include the costs in our income tax returns). Most of his customers aren't "converts" like you and your deposit was as much a good faith investment for him as it was for you. He has bills all year long just like you. But that's just MY OPINION as I've been there, done that. You'll eventually understand my perspective.

I see your point George

This response submitted by Billy on 3/22/05 at 10:13 PM. ( )

I am a framing carpenter full time ,8-10 hours a day 5-6 days a week, and yes I get burnt out to , but when I tell someone that I'll have something done by a certain time, it gets done. It doesn't matter if I'm tired, or sick, I stick to my word. And there is no vacation time to fish or hunt. These things are done when time allows. I know it sounds harsh and I don't mean for it to , but as a business man it seems to me that he would be trying to satisfy his customer a little more. As far as the deposit, I don't mind paying for what has been done to the deer. I deposited $150.00, I forgot to mention this before. In no way do I think there has been $150.00's worth of work or electric applied towards the storage. Also, if the form has been ordered, shouldn't I get that too? I appreciate everyones input on this subject, you're all great!

Well Lets break it down

This response submitted by Tenbears on 3/23/05 at 1:07 AM. ( )

Certainly. on a conservitive estimate. everyone would agree the tallents of a taxidermist are worth $30.00 an hour net. I won't touch anything for less. To that there should be added a portion of all overhead. Insurance, electric, heat, phone, ect. Billy add your monthly bills at home for a year. divide by the 200 or so mounts the average one man operation does a year. you will find that 25.00 of every mount minimum goes to these. The taxidermist probably spent a minimum of 30 minuets on intake of your deer, (talking to you, and getting information on the mount) He then spent 30 minuets doing his state paperwork on your deer, looking up the proper form, and ordering the materials. If he skinned the cape off the head, and cut the antlers off the skull there went another 45 minuets. If he turned and fleshed the cape there is nearly 3 hours gone. If the cape has been salted and dried there goes another 15 minuets. you are now into the taxidermist for 5 hours. X 30.00 per hour. without adding the $25.00 for expenses your $150.00 has been eaten up. If the cape has been tanned. then you owe him more. If you have a contract stating an estimated completion time. You have some leverage. but if all this is simply word of mouth. You may have to suck it up. and hope the taxidermist is a nice guy. And has not done anything to the hide.

I'll let him mount it!

This response submitted by Billy on 3/23/05 at 6:24 PM. ( )

He only charges $275 to mount a deer, so according to the above post I figure he'll come out $50-$75 in the hole! If it's worth $30 an hour to talk to the customer, look up a form, cape, cut antlers off, and flesh and turn everything, I need to quit building 5000-6000 square foot homes and concentrate on taxidermy. I sure don't make that much, and it's a lot harder work! I don't see how you can figure I owe him for phone electric, heat and all the other stuff when he wouldn't of had it in his care for this long if he had finished it in the time period he stated. That's like saying give me your deer and at least half of the payment and I'll have it done in a year at the most, and if I don't you'll get it when I get around to it. If this doesn't satisfy you,take the deer but I keep the money. That's not good business!

He will come out in the hole

This response submitted by it all started with his pricing on 3/24/05 at 12:13 PM. ( )

Thats why he has had it so long, he is so underpriced and can not afford to mount it as a good job. I know a lot of contractors that got jobs as the lowest bidder and it all went down hill from the deposit. So do you I am sure. If he would of charged you 4 or 5 hundred dollars in the first place, he would have it done by now and he would feel good about the mount and you about him and everyone about his business. You are getting what you paid for and he is getting what he charged you for; its all not good.

No, that's like saying...

This response submitted by Craig on 3/24/05 at 1:09 PM. ( )

if it takes me longer than a year I'll have to tack on a surcharge for extra storage expenses because that was never figured into the initial pricing, and since I'm behind schedule the customer should pay for it. Oh, and by the way the prices of fuel oil went up so I need to charge you more.

The "storage expenses" are incurred after the mount is completed. Isn't it the norm to store clients parts, antlers, cape, forms, clay, hide paste, etc. prior to putting the piece together?

Billy, I would call this taxidermist and speak with him first hand. If you really want to do the mount yourself ask for it back and explain that you have dabbled in the hobby and would like to do your own taxidermy. You could always offer him some compensation based on what he has already done with your trophy, including charges for the form, eyes, earliners. If they were ordered you should get them with the cape and antlers if the deposit is enough to cover these items. The worst case senario is you lose your deposit, or a portion of it, but you learned a valuable lesson. I bet next time you will ask for a more concrete time frame or at least counter the deposit request with a change of mind clause, lol. This shouldn't be a one sided argument here as some of the posts suggest.

30.00 an hour is an "average" fee for any professional in business but that fee normally includes some expenses from overhead. Some taxidermists should charge more as their skill levels command those prices and their overhead might be more. Just like an auto repair shop charges 60.00 an hour for all work but the mechanic working for the shop only makes 25.00 an hour. The remaining money covers other costs associated with running the shop. I think I remember reading that JL charges 16.00 per hour for fish reburbishing but also charges materials and expenses for the job above and beyond his hourly rate.

I know some taxidermists make changes during the year that were never figured into their yearly plan, like moving or expanding their shops or unexpected illnesses. This does alter return times. I am not sure where fishing trips fit into this especially when you begin to fall behind but everyone has their own work ethics. I love the guys that get so far behind they no longer answer phones or return calls, then end up closing shop without notifying clients.

The taxidermist owes the customer something other than a good mount. It all boils down to reputation. Any honest taxidermist will notify the customer if it is taking longer than expected, especially if he has told ALL his customers that it won't take any longer than a year to process the mount. It is also the customer's responsibility to accept the long returns if the taxidermist states he has a backlog and is honest as to what the backlog should be.

Just my opinion.

Billy Billy

This response submitted by Coot on 3/24/05 at 1:42 PM. ( )

You need to get a book called "improving the bottom line" by Don Rice . Taxidermy is a business and should be treated likewise . I see that you dont quite understand what gross margin on return investment means to a business and the way if effects all aspects of the "deposit" and so on . Not trying to be abrasive here so please dont take it that way but if your only paying $275 for a deer I wouldnt expect anymore from this guy.

I don't get it, Coot

This response submitted by Craig on 3/24/05 at 8:10 PM. ( )

Since the guy only charges 275.00 for a deerhead he has no responsibility/obligation to the client other than he'll get r done when he gets r done? What if two years from now the deer still isn't done? Does the same methodology/ideology (or lack thereof)work?

Business is business regardless if you charge 275.00 or 750.00 for a service. As a businessman you owe your customer a reasonable time frame for that service.

One of the things Billy doesn't mention here is how long this taxdermist has been in business and whether he has a reputation of using this practice.


This response submitted by Tenbears on 3/25/05 at 2:43 AM. ( )

Just what a reasonable time frame. I know plenty of taxidermist that are telling their clients there is a 24 to 30 month completion time. In my contracts although I am running about 14 months. I state an estimated delivery date of 24 months. from the date of receipt of the deposit. All Work goes in line in order that the deposit is paid. Standard procedure is the capes are skinned, turned, fleshed, and salted when they come in. they are tanned in groups of ten. And frozen. If someone comes to retrieve their antlers, and cape before the mount is complete. I charge them an amount equal to what I have done. Based on a shop rate of $50.00 per hour. Exactly what is made on a complete mount.

Another thing Billy does not mention Is if there is a contract. and if the taxidermist is in fact in breach of that contract.

If you tell your clients that the return time...

This response submitted by Craig on 3/25/05 at 8:23 AM. ( )

is a long one it gives them the opportunity to either choose you or go somewhere else. But if you tell them less than a year and 14 months go by and he still has 40 pieces ahead of yours, something doesn't equate. Tenbears, you are not lying to your customers and are allowing time for the unexpecteds. That is what smart business people do. I'm sure you aren't losing any work that you absolutely need to pay the bills by being honest. Those guys and gals that go other places are probably customers you don't want anyway.

I see this guy that Billy is talking about becoming one of those starving artists with business practices like he is using. But then again maybe Billy's opinion is a little one sided.

It's not just me

This response submitted by Billy on 3/25/05 at 11:32 PM. ( )

I have three friends that took there deer to him during the first week of bow season in 2003 (I believe it starts in September) and they were told the same thing that I was told, no longer than a year. This is the reason that I decided to try my hand at taxidermy. At least I'm getting some good out of all this, I learned how to do something I love! Anyhow, I guess it'll all come out in the wash.

missing the point

This response submitted by J P on 3/28/05 at 4:26 PM. ( )

He is in breach of a CONTRACT.
You deserve your animal and ALL your money back.
His deposits, cost,overhead and so on,have nothing to do with it.
Breach of contract is Breach of contract.

I Take it the J. Stands for Judge J.P.

This response submitted by b on 3/29/05 at 10:42 AM. ( )

Pretty good you can make that determination without having herd all the facts. We have only herd a brief account of Billy's side. A verbal contract is difficult to prove. Let alone enforce. unless there are unbiased witnesses. Nothing Personal Billy. Just discussing logistics. It is hard to know weather the terms of a contract has been breached If a written contract does not exists, so far Billy has only stated he was told. And his friends were told. which would make me think there is nothing in writing. It may be hard to prove
Now JP Let's Suppose I am the alleged Taxidermist. And I tell you I said No such thing. I tell all my customers that they are looking at a minimum of a 2 year wait. In fact here are three of my customers to act as witnesses. "Yes", "yes", "yup, that's what he told us." Now who is in breach of contract Judge P.


This response submitted by C A on 3/29/05 at 3:12 PM. ( )

b--It is so simple. The taxidermist is the one who broke the contract. And yes, it seems to only have been a verbal contract, but verbal contracts are binding here in Texas. More than likely they are also binding where ever Billy is from. If this were to actually go to court, there would be Billy's testimony and that of his three friends stating the same thing. Sure, the taxidermist could bring the three hypothetical customers you mentioned to collaborate his side. But, in the end the customer (Billy) would be right, and he would get his deer back. Although, the judge may or may not let him have his deposit back. I have previously mentioned how I think this situation would best be handled. Maybe b, you are just playing the Devil's Advocate?


This response submitted by J P on 3/29/05 at 5:34 PM. ( )

Not a judge, a taxidermist that has been to court over this same issue.
We had a verbal agreement.
He said I was taking to long(It had only been 7 months)and wanted his animal and his money back.I said O K to the animal and no to his deposit.He took me to small claims court with no witnesses, just a story.I had a reciept with his name and date,invoices of cost,plus witnesses. He won,I had to pay back the deposit and court cost.

You see, there are so many screwed up taxidermist out there,the judge tends to believe the coustomer.So, mister alleged taxidermist it does not matter what you say,just your coustomers allegations.
To avoid this situation, put it in writing and have them sign it.
If not,take it somewere else.

A Brief Account?

This response submitted by Billy on 3/29/05 at 10:55 PM. ( )

What more is there to say? I took the deer to him in Nov. 2003 and was told it would take no longer than a year for it to be finished. There is no written contract, only the deposit receipt. I know of three poeple who took there deer to him a month or two before I did and they where told up to a year, and guess what, no mounts! And it has nothing to do with him being a cheap taxidermist because the going rate on a shoulder mount in this area is from $250 - $325, just depends on what type of mount you want. I just finished two more mounts last night for friends and the more I do, the madder I get at this guy. I WILL talk to him this weekend, and it won't be on the phone. At this point, I don't care if it makes him mad or not, or whether I get the deposit back , but one things for sure, the deer will be coming home and I won't be giving him any more money for other expenses either! This is just plain ridiculous,he's had all the time he needed to finish the mount!And do you think that those other three guys will be taking more deer to him? No, they'll bring them to me ,or someone else. He's just hurting his own business.

strikes again

This response submitted by rick on 3/29/05 at 10:59 PM. ( )

It looks like the Rinehart Empire strikes again. Another new guy mounting heads "for the fun of it". And who is the guy(s) traveling all over the country telling these new guys that their work "looks better than anybody elses"? Ever been to a show? Do your homework before you take a head somewhere and don't go to the cheapest clown!

And What's Wrong With That?

This response submitted by Billy on 3/29/05 at 11:23 PM. ( )

And what's wrong with mounting your own heads " for fun the fun of it"? It's rather satisfying to take a trophy deer and be able to do the taxidermy work to.


This response submitted by Wannabe Taxidermist on 3/30/05 at 2:02 PM. ( )

if he has so much work then he shouold be very willing to give the animal AND the money back.


This response submitted by Wannabe Taxidermist on 3/30/05 at 2:02 PM. ( )

if he has so much work then he shouold be very willing to give the animal AND the money back.

Rinehart Empire?

This response submitted by Billy on 3/30/05 at 6:09 PM. ( )

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by that. Everything that I have learned about shoulder mounting a deer, I learned it here and from the Sallie Dahmes video. What does Rinehart have to do with it? Must I go to a show to do a good job on mounts? I think not!

Go pick it up

This response submitted by J P on 3/31/05 at 1:31 AM. ( )

Billy , I'm no your side.

Return to Deer Taxidermy Category Menu