Taxidermy Competition

Submitted by Tenbears on 01/28/2004. ( )

Although I have Been In the taxidermist Business For many years. I have never competed. Heck I have only been to one Show, and that was many years ago. I do Understand The invaluable Knowledge to be gained by competing, as well as simply attending. And I can see the benefits doing so would afford someone starting out. What has me puzzled is how do all the established Taxidermists Justify the time, and expense of competing, and attending year after year? I am not trying to create a stir here. It just seems that it is an awful lot of work to and expense to go through. unless it is just something you enjoy, and consider it as part of your R&R.
I do Competition Quality mounts for display In my shop. But only when I have nothing else to do. Because they are my personal trophies. And I well Know the hours that go into one. I could do 20 commercial Mounts in the time required to do one competition Mount. That simply put would mean that a competition deer shoulder mount would be worth $5000.00 in terms of time lost from customer work. Not to mention transportation, and time to attend a show. What Am I missing guys. I just Don't get it.

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When is Your Book Out

This response submitted by Paul I on 01/28/2004. ( )

Ten Bears with what I have read about you and your two tours and life I want to buy a copy when it comes out.See some of us listen and remember posts and names of relatives.Your one of the smartest on here even if you do not enter competitions.

Scroll down

This response submitted by Doug on 01/28/2004. ( )

Scroll down to Jan 16 "Competitions and Judges." Everything you wanted to know and probably

This is my take on shows.

This response submitted by JOhn C on 01/28/2004. ( )

You get to see the latest methods, this does improve commercial work.

You can buy supplies at a reduced price.

You meet many people get to help a few and learn so much more.

What I love about going to a show, is taking a piece of work that is really and truly a customers mount and being able to take a 2nd place ribbon.

I love looking at the mounts, great ideas! Creative minds and no two taxidermist interpet reference the same way.


This response submitted by George on 01/28/2004. ( )

What if I told you that you'd learn more in one two hour seminar than you've learned in 10 years working alone in your shop? What if I could prove to you that there are methods out there that could turn the same quality of your 200 hour mount into a 36 hour job?

As you know, I don't compete. As I've said many times, I've spent the last 10 years of my life UNlearning the bad habits I took as fact for the first 25. Going to competitions did that. Competitions bring you to the cusp of the industry. You'll see it there first and when it fails, you'll see that as well. To put it into concept, I'll share a story that I'd hope neither gentleman would take offense to.

Most of you know that John Matthews is a taxidermist non pariel who works at the Smithsonian. This past year, he instigated hiring Ken Walker to come down and assist on getting the many small game and monkeys mounted for their big opening that happened a few months back. I spoke to John this weekend and his remark floored me since I could only hope to be a good as he is. He told me that he had learned more by working with Ken in six months than he'd have gotten in 10 years.

Now that's what the cream of the cream say about each other, so where would that put peons like us? But it happens every year.

Most taxidermists going to the big shows use it as family vacations, but realistically, it's all a tax write off. Though your hours can't be, the supplies used, the miles travelled, the meals, lodging, entry fees, memberships, are tax exempt. Most of us need that if nothing else, but considering what you gain in knowledge would be a very difficult thing to put a price on.


This response submitted by Mike on 01/29/2004. ( )

The quality of my work skyrocked after I began competing.I thought I thought I was good until I started rubing elbows with the Georgia Taxiderist Ass. members and I found out I had a lot to learn. The new friends I have made and the feeling of being fired up after seeing all that quailty work have been worth every second I put into it.Not only have I benefited so have my customers.


This response submitted by Mike on 01/29/2004. ( )

The quality of my work skyrocked after I began competing.I thought I thought I was good until I started rubing elbows with the Georgia Taxiderist Ass. members and I found out I had a lot to learn. The new friends I have made and the feeling of being fired up after seeing all that quailty work have been worth every second I put into it.Not only have I benefited so have my customers.

Like a broken record.....

This response submitted by Jim Tucker on 01/29/2004. ( )

I will repeat what the others say again. I continue to go to the competitions to learn and keep up with new ideas(besides I am a board member here LOL!). Sort of like continuing education. I have not entered a piece for quite some time. Like you I have not been able to justify the time needed. After going full time I REALLY did not want to do competition pieces. The main reason:IF I HAVE FREE TIME I SURE AS HECK DO NOT WANT TO DO TAXIDERMY!?! I take my free time to spend time with the family, fish, hunt, play music. Especially after I got into "blue" it became a nightmare to stay there and I didn't want to slip. I still try and go to several shows and competitions during the year. The BEST part of going to shows is the fellowship. I have learned so much just from talking and exchanging ideas. In fact, EVERY taxidermist I have ever met has taught me something. even the newest newbie, butcher. All guys have some unique tricks and ideas, even if they do not emply them that well. As far as the TIME ?wasted? and the money spent, I like George deduct what I can, AND since I don't work weekends I am not REALLY losing shop time. I run my shop a little different than most. On top of that, you can save 10, 15, even 20% on orders made at a show. When you have a $3000 order that can be huge!

Now to stop rambling. A taxidermist who lives near me has won MANY awards, INCLUDING the AWARD OF EXCELLENCE from the NTA. He at one time was a leader in taxidermy. He has not been to a competition for years(at least ten). His work would be lucky to be third place today. In fact, mounts he won big with years ago would not do well. His work looks OLD, because he is using old techniques and has an "I know it all, did it all" attitude. Just like any profession, the taxidermist has to evolve or DIE!

Thanks Guys

This response submitted by Tenbears on 01/29/2004. ( )

As some of you may have gathered, I was really asking to Justify in My mind attending a few. I have done taxidermy for many years. Before I found this site. I knew few taxidermist that were willing to discuss Taxidermy with any real exchanges. Only the typical, have you tried The new forms by so and so. bla bla. Taxidermy. Has been a big part of my life for many years. and I have never tired of it. Meeting so many here that are so dedicated to the industry has given me an even greater interest in something that has captivated me for most of my life. In spite Of 33 years experience. I have learned many things here. I have been considering attending a show, and wanter to know that they were really something more than a sales convention. Thanks for the input.

Year ago, I went for the ribbons.

This response submitted by John C on 01/29/2004. ( )

Lets go back a few years way back.

I went to be the best and learn and to get that BLUE RIBBON. Several state best of shows, BoCat. Taxidermist of the year etc.

I could not wait for the comp. area doors to open to see what ribbon I got. and yes manytimes I did not get what I thought I should have.

I was away from shows for over 10 years, when I started competing again, I got some pretty major butt kickings. But with just a few tune up shows, my fish work and gamehead work jumped back up, to what is called mid red ribbon work Mid 80's most of the time.

I even started competing with birds, did pretty well too. No blues but many solid reds or high 3rds. Birds are the toughest area in my book!

BUt what I learned at the NTA 96 in Columbia is even though I had been away and stylized my fish, it was reconised by someone as being my work. Ten years after the last time I had one judged.

It made me look at fish a totally different way, I see some great mounts out there but few really great ones! Simon Blackshaws fish is the best I ever saw!

All this related to me, I was not seeing the whole picture in reading my reference materials, what was I missing? So the next shows I have went to, I have been able to talk one on one with many of the really great taxidermist, Ihave had the best critique my work.

John Matthews gave me one of the best critgues I have ever received on deerheads.
Same go's for fish and ducks, Danny Owens has tore me up on those darned ducks. I learned so much from those critiques, I know too my work has improved and it still needs to improve.

How do you improve your work without an outside critique? You cannot!

You get to close to your work, what you see is subjective, your family saying its good and even your friends saying its good work is subjective. They are not going to say "You work fricken sucks!"

Your family and friends generally dont know what good work looks like!
They only see average work.

My girlfriend will tell you after she went to the NTA in KY this past summer, there is big differences in quality around the nation!

As I have mentioned before Rick Carter from WASCO gave the best seminar on deer I have ever seen! He did not mount a deer during it either, he hit on points I had over looked. my girlfriend knew which deer he had in the show, just from what she learned in the seminar!

I also learned this last year more about open mouth work than I had in all my years in taxidermy. the length of the lesson was maybe 30 minutes. I will be putting this knowledge to work for me in the future.

I look at shows this way too. I have just began to learn real taxidermy! I have the basics down well but now comes the real learning and believe me the learning curve is super hard!

The quality of work will jump greatly over the next ten years, if you miss out the next few years of shows, you will be way behind the curve!!

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