for the veteran taxidermists

Submitted by grizzly on 01/04/2004. ( )

so do you ever get tired of doing taxidermy? does it eventually become a job or a chore to do it?

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Yeap it will, when you are under paid.

This response submitted by John C on 01/04/2004. ( )

When you are under paying yourself, its time to stop and look.

Do you only think about, "I could be doing Joe blows fish, if I was not here at Disney World."

You are working every day and night and all weekend long and are still a year behind.

You are using the Nationals or World Show as your vacation.

You are really married to your shop, your wife just gives you visitation rights occasionally.

It becomes a chore when...

This response submitted by Jerry on 01/04/2004. ( )

you pay good money to learn the right way and some slob down the street buys a video for $19.95 and undercuts your price by half. It becomes a chore when you spend extra money to get the cape professionally tanned and it comes back full of holes. It becomes a chore when the hunter drags an 8x22 buck 3 miles behind a 4 wheeler and expects you to take care of the basketball-size bare spot. But then, when you step back and look at the beauty of a finished whitetail, it's all worth it.

Look be truthful

This response submitted by George on 01/04/2004. ( )

It gets tiring and boring even if you DO make top end money. I've been through several "burnouts" and I'm beginning to think this last one is permanent. After 46 years, it becomes a bear some days. The line never ends and there's no "off season". The only way you quit this job is die in it. The more you THINK you know, the more often you're surprised at what's changed, no longer done that way, or new technology has taken over and you don't know squat again. I'm as high as anyone in my area and I don't CARE if Joe Blow down the street charges $150 for a deer head. I have almost a 2 year backlog and if I died tomorrow , SOMEBODY has a lot of work to do. Why would I care if he took in 150 deer this year and I only got 40. In two years, it won't matter. I have more to do than I can do in a single day and nobody promised you tomorrow anyway.

Right On George!

This response submitted by Jim on 01/05/2004. ( )

I completely agree with you. I have not hunted myself since 1998. Mike Boyce once told me you have to be wiling to get out of taxidermy to stay in it. I love it so much, it's almost like a curse!

Hmm, Don't let it run your life.

This response submitted by Jim Tucker on 01/05/2004. ( )

I always got into taxidermy because I could make good money on my own terms. It takes a little time and will power but it can be done. First of all, ALL HOURS BY APPT. This keeps me free to do OTHER things I need to do, for instance, attend my sons sporting events or school events. It also keeps nitwits who show up at 1 am with the "coon" they want stuffed. I don't even have my address published in the Yellow Pages. Only my city and phone number.

YOU HAVE TO CHARGE ENOUGH MONEY! This cannot be stressed enough. In fact there should be a category on called CHARGE ENOUGH MONEY! I used to stress over the HANG-ups I received when the price shoppers called, but no more.

Don't do what you don't want to. I am one of, if not THE ONLY taxidermist around that will take flat hides for tanning, and I HATE them. It is a totally boring job that has NO APPEAL to me. So....I charge $100 for the job. That keeps me from getting to many. I think 3 people went for it this year. I also am not a big TURKEY fan. So I take very few and charge a lot.

DO NOT PUT ANY WHOLE SPECIMENS IN THE FREEZER! When a fish comes in here, it is measured and skinned. If it is frozen, it is thawed and skinned the following day. Same with mammals. Rarely is a whole animal or cape frozen in my shop. In fact I have ONE upright freezer for my whole operation(which is just a basment shop). When I worked in a large studio they had 19 FREEZERS filled to the BRIM! That is INSANE! It only takes 20-30 minutes at most to skin any specimen, take the time. Fish I totally prep when they come in, mammals I try and flesh and SALT immediately. That way I can store them dry.

Work with a plan don't just flail away. I work at the MOST 40 hours per week in my shop, usually more like 30-36, BUT when I work I WORK! I don't tinker and play around. I guess my experience working in a large studio where I mounted 500+ gameheads and lifesize a year MYSELF helped me learn to put the nose to the grindstone. Too many guys go to the shop, grab a coffee, flip through the newspaper, make a couple phone calls, talk to their groupies and then after all that MAYBE they do a little work. I have a plan for the day written out and I follow it. I have a goal to be done for the day by the time the kids get home from school and I RARELY don't make it. Here is an example of using your time wisely. Deer season is here. December, You take in 100 heads(any more for a one man shop and you are asking for trouble). Concentrate on making sure they are all fleshed and salt dried. 2 days after season closing(a month here) send them to the tannery. While they are out you can mount other things such as fish(mount a minimum of five fish a day monday-tues,wed-fri finish and paint the last weeks fish) this should keep $1000+ dollars a week coming through your shop a week. Tanned capes are back in February start mounting. You should be able without breaking a sweat to get 6 heads a week mounted from mon-thurs working 6 hours a day. Fridays are for finishing. Done with all heads by June. Don't let yourself get behind. This is the BIGGEST problem for most taxidermists.

Finally, live within your means. I don't do anywhere NEAR 100 gameheads a year and my family is doing well. We have a decent home, good vehicles, and nobody wants for anything(well my sons may want a Corvette LOL!) I don't have much overhead, but I am a in home shop. Could I use more room? YES! but at the moment I have to wait, maybe in the Spring when I CAN PAY FOR IT! Don't go into heavy debt, it is a back breaker. We go on vacations every year. I will say I do supplement my income a little as a part time musician but that is not much. Taxidermy AIN'T ROCKET SCIENCE, you just have to get it done. By taking years on your work you are losing money as the cost of living rises and you are still trying to get the deer done at 2001 prices. That WILL cause burnout!

Applauding George and Jim

This response submitted by Dave on 01/05/2004. ( )

Well said guys, well said!

In His,

Peopled out and want to go hunting AND Fishing!

This response submitted by Mr. Kim on 01/05/2004. ( )

Well said fellow taxidermist! I can say that I get "peopled out." Some customers, not all, but some should just "stuff it" themselves.... And I have to take time to go hunting and fishing myself...I sure miss doing that.

Mr. Kim

Peopled out and want to go hunting AND Fishing!

This response submitted by Mr. Kim on 01/05/2004. ( )

Well said fellow taxidermist! I can say that I get "peopled out." Some customers, not all, but some should just "stuff it" themselves.... And I have to take time to go hunting and fishing myself...I sure miss doing that.

Mr. Kim

Sorry about double post.

This response submitted by Mr. Kim on 01/05/2004. ( )

Sorry about the double post!

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