Competing with Dry Persevative

Submitted by Matt on 8/22/00. ( )

Well here goes on that subject again, Im from the south and everybody knows that most of us sothern boys use DP the problam is that i do not want to use this methhod and nor do I think anyone should w/out educating there customer of what there getting when they use this method but almost feel if im going to compete in my area i feel almost foced to use this method to stay in my market I cannot compete w/ these guys because of the price difference and you might say well look at there work and tell the customer to look at the difference well i cant because a lot of guys are getting great results using this method and yes I can tell the difference between shoty work and good quality work you might say well wait and then youll see well im still waiting and these mounts are still holding up great with no signs of shringage,cracking,splitting and its going on 10 yrs now and so do i believe that these mounts will hold up abosolutly not. but i do want to make make some money and there is no way by tanning my skins that i can even be close to there price. And most of are customers well they are very price conscious. So i thought i would get some thoughts from you guys. Deer heads range from 185.00-250.00 and the 250.00 taxidermist is the highest and puts out a very nice looking mount some of the best commercial work I'v seen and using DP. Well I dont know how they can make money even @ 250.00 using DP. But thats how it is in my 60 mile radius. Thanks Matt

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Been on Both Sides

This response submitted by George Roof on 8/22/00. ( )

I hope anyone who hasn't been where you are will be wise in their opinions. I used DP for year and I continue to use it on birds and small, non-greasy game animals. Some of my DP work still looks as good as the day it was done thanks to using great adhesives. I did get some cracks around eyes and nostrils, but it has been minimal and was easy enough to repair. What I do notice most, however, is the sheen of the hair. Tanned hides have a much more manageable hair than the DP work and I'd swear I can tell the difference just by touching it.

Having said all that, I switched to tanning some years back and I truly love the feel of working with a tanned hide over the DP. My skin also likes it better.

Now you quote prices of your local market, but consider that even if you had your hides commercially tanned, your cost would not increase over about $25. If you went to your top end price and absorbed that cost for the first year, believe me, you'll be surprised at what your "cost conscious" customers feel when you raise your prices $25 to $50 next year. What few customers you do lose will be more than made up by those who recognize the increased quality of your work. The market here in Delaware was just like yours when I started tanning. I've raised prices each year because of it and I get $400 for deer now. Guess what, the other taxidermists also raised their prices when they started getting the "cost conscious" hunters. It's been a win-win situation here. The DP guy is getting $375 for his mounts and both of us are dealing with a year+ backlog.

Contrary to popular belief in this industry, it's not criminal to want to make a decent wage for quality work. Don't let the market dictate how you should be paid. The plumber and car mechanic get $60 an hour and the guy who cuts my grass gets $25. I should fit in between there someplace.

Dave Says

This response submitted by Dave Taylor on 8/22/00. ( )

I agree with George's comments, but I want to add more.

I'm gonna nit-pick your comments, and add my advice and
comments as I go.Maybe My info will help you also.

First, It's been pointed out before that DP vs. Tanning is not
a North vs. South issue. There are many taxidermists nationwide
that have good results with both methods. (and many more that make
crap with both methods). I do believe it's true that more Northerners tan, and more southerners use DP, and I think(even though I have no scientific proof) that DP works better down south.
When people talk about things like eyes and nose cracking, that just seems bizarre to me, because that stuff just doesn't happen with dry preservatives in my area.
It's probably got something to do with the climate, but I don't know for sure.
Your very own comments bolster mine---after waiting many years, all those mounts are still looking good, and ya know, as long as they were mounted properly, they will continue to look good.

this is my question for you---why do you really want to change? Have you just been bombarded with the "tanning is superior" stuff for so long, that you just assume that it must be true?

If somebody that lives a thousand miles away from you, someone that knows nothing about your climate, you skills, or your techniques,if they just tell you that "tanning is best", Why believe their opinion over what you have seen with your OWN eyes,over what you know to be true for a decade,over what you have actually done---and thats to make quality mounts with DP.

It all comes down to this---Your method of preservation is just an integral part of your overall mounting process. It is a choice that you make, just like choosing where to buy your forms. and either method will make a top quality mount, IF YOU HAVE THE PROPER SKILLS.

You also need to have faith in your methods, and if you DON'T have faith in DP, then you should start tanning, regardless of cost.

It is absolutely true that some people prefer working with a tanned skin. YOU should try it and see what you think.

The cost of tanning is really more of an excuse for you than reality.
George is right, it's only about 25 bucks more, and all you really need to do is raise your prices.

You say that you don't know how they can make money @ 250.00, well, what are you charging? I assume you are actually charging less. therefore you are losing more!

We say it all the time---your prices shouldn't be based on everybody else's (not entirely)--you first have to determine what price will allow you to make a profit.

Lastly Matt,
I hope you'll think about this----in 11 years of commercial taxidermy, having known hundreds of taxidermists, I have NEVER known
anyone that raised their prices, and lost money.
That's something that you should have faith in.

Good Luck

My thoughts...

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 8/22/00. ( )

I dont know how to explain it, but we have guys around here who do mounts which they say are "tanned"...? but they still only charge around $200-$300. Yet theres guys around who are a year behind charging over $450. Thats the way it is. Theres a taxidermist around here for every price range and customer base. I can tell you that I have at least 6 guys within 15 minutes of my studio, and over 40 within an hour or so. The customers dont know who wins what, they dont read the mags for the most part. Charge what you want, and hang in there. I can tell you one other thing. Once you get used to tanned capes, you will be able to mount them faster then DP, because they work well in your hands, and dont require all the fillers around the eyes, etc. In the long run, you are ahead of the game. I dont have any filler around the eyes of my mounts. Yep, theyre tanned. Im not anti-DP, I just prefer tanned capes for many obvious reasons. Good luck.

My 2 cents

This response submitted by Art on 8/22/00. ( )

I mounted deer for one season with DP. My customers were happy and I was happy.
I tried a commercially tanned cape that I had bought and was impressed with some of the same
qualities that Bill mentioned. I now use the autotanner and am well pleased. Some people are down on the auto
too, but I have found what works for me...and when it comes down to it, you have two people to please...
yourself and your customer. You decide

DP and Tanning

This response submitted by Tom K on 8/23/00. ( )

I DP all my mounts but still offer (for a higher price) a tanned mount.I show both in my show room. Last year,out of 165 only one wanted a tanned mount.I charge 250 for a DP and 350 for a tanned.(not inclcludeing the panel)and my prices are going up this year. I,m able to mount about 8 deer a week and a couple of fish or small mammals on a good week.I put out a good quality mount with all the nice detail that the hunters love.It took me a long time to be able to get to the point of mounting that amount of deer with lots and lots of practice and I work them like an assembly line.I don,t know if that,s a good output or not because I,ve never compared my productivity with any other taxidermist but I make a good liveing with no complaints.If the customer takes care of their mount it wiil last(tanned or DP).A tanned mount wiil ruin just as bad if not cared for. Lots of Luck.......................Tom

Simple Borax

This response submitted by Scott Lupien on 8/25/00. ( )

For what it is worth:

I'm just an amateur taxidermist, but have been doing it for twenty years. I learned by reading books as a kid and started with small game, then fish and finally big game.

My first big game mounts were from an African safari I took in 1987. The book I used taught the DP method (How to Mount Deer for Profit or Fun by Archie and Bubba Phillips.) Since I'd always used simple Borax from the grocery store on my small game, I used it on the African game as well (some of the species have very thick hides). I soaked the dried and salted hides in a borax-water solution until workable, then mounted them.

That was ten years ago and they are still going strong. I've done minor repairs a few times because a few did have small cracks around the eyes -- but no big deal. The biggest problem is that my gemsbok mount has faded. The black face markings are now pale brown. That must be due to sunlight and I doubt tanning would have prevented it.

I've since mounted about fifty other big game trophies for friends and family and still have no complaints. And I still use simple Borax (though I've tried using tanned capes on six mounts and do agree that it is a pleasure to work with!)

As for whether my work is any good, I can say that it is not superior but is much better than a lot of "professional" stuff I see hanging on other people's walls. The real test, I would say, is whther it looks like it did when mounted -- because the preservative doesn't know a good job from a bad one. It simply preserves it as mounted or it doesn't! And so far Borax has worked fine.

By the way, I'm in California where it is mild and dry.

...Scott Lupien

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