If any of you out here are familiar with retriever feild trial and hunt tests(which I am sure there are a few of you on these forums) you probably know that there is a big difference between hunt tests and trials. In trials the dogs are competing for first, second, third place etc. to achieve a field trial champion status, and in hunt tests dogs are not competing but are trying to achieve a standard that will gain them a title of specific achievment - master hunter, senior hunter, or jr hunter - depending upon their abilites.
Why doesn't the NTA have similar "tests" for taxidermists? I would venture to say that many taxidermists would much rather compete against themselves and strive to attain certain levels of expertise through non-competitive judging. For example, if you meet the requirements for a specific level of skill you would obtain a "diploma" for that level of workmanship. Some would work their way from, say, amature all the way up to professional taxidermy level.
I have never been to a competiton, so I don't know what one really entails, aside from reading on the forums. Perhaps this idea has come up before and been rejected, but I know I would much rather compete against meeting certain criteria, than compete against other taxidermists.
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Though I'm sure there are enough "dogs" in this industry to make a field trial, we tend to think of ourselves as having a larger role in life and in the industry. You really SHOULD go to a competition. You'll see snakes, lizards, weasels, monkeys, gorillas, a few bears and a whole lot of lion, but you can always go into the competition area and look at the mounts. The NTA as an Award of Excellence that is achieved through their show process. Ribbons count as individual point values and upon accumulating 20 (I think- as I don't compete, I don't know for sure) points, the individual then must take a piece of work to the national convention and have a panel decide if it passes or fails. If it passes, the individual has earned the Award of Excellence in that particular category. But for every one who strives for an AofE, there are hundreds like me who just go for the comraderie, the seminars, the suppliers, and seeing the exciting talent that we call ourselves part of. I doubt the best English Setter with pedigree would be interested in our way of doing things.
... would be to go to each state member's shop and judge every mount there. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Plus evaluate the cleanliness and orderliness of the shop, the record keeping system and other bookwork. Look for health/safety violations, etc.
(Now THAT would be scary!)
It wouldn't need taxidermy judges per se, just a small group of peers and a standard to go by. I think it would be very meaningful to have one's shop given the mark of approval by one's peers. Not quite the same as a taxidermy competition, but still valuable as a sign of professionalism. Maybe someting like a 1,2,3,4,or 5 star rating?
After the "event," everybody could go out for pizza or something.
I think it would be fun and profitable, maybe even motivational.
Any thoughts on this, guys and gals?
How's about we just skip to the pizza get together and forget all that other stuff?! I gotta go sweep now.
And speaking of dogs, mine think my shop is a 5 Star already! Let's have our canines rate our shops, yeah that's it!
You need to go to a competition. I've made great friends, like Paul Czarnecki and George Roof. Even though some of us don't see eye to eye, I have respect for everybody in this industry. It's because of the competition. You will learn more than you can imagine.
The four days at the National Show in Missouri, you will see more new ideas and learn more from the seminars than you can believe.
If you have more questions, email me.