Hollywood (Navy NCIS) finally got taxidermy RIGHT

Submitted by George on 2/9/05 at 8:12 AM. ( georoof@aol.com )

Did any of you watch Navy NCIS on Tuesday night? I always love a Mark Harman show and this is one of his best. This particular show, however, had a surreal theme that shocked even me.

it actually tied and undertaker together with a taxidermist, but not just ANY taxidermist. This guy was scripted right out of the Ken Walker textbook, though Ken would puke at the quality of the mounts they showed. Those mounts had to be 50 years old at best.

Anyway, this taxidermist was mounting a Panda when Jethro (Harman) questioned how he was mounting an endangered species. The taxidermist remarked that it was simply a re-creation and that he'd used two black bears to make it. He stated that he'd bleached one and then cut both bears to fit the color scheme of the bear and sewn them back together (ala Ken Walker's World Show winner). He then said that he wanted to spend more time on another animal in hopes of winning the small mammal/lifesize competition at the "nationals" this year.

I don't recall ever seeing a Hollywood show depicting such factual information about taxidermy before. I called Ken and he, too , was surprised. He said it sounded as if they were reading Breakthrough and other periodicals of ours as background. I thought it was pretty neat.

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NCIS FAN HERE TOO BUT................

This response submitted by Dawn on 2/9/05 at 9:27 AM. ( )

I too watched last nights episode. I agree that they definitely researched some aspects of the taxidermy field but it wasn't like they pushed the artistry of taxidermy in the least. The mounts were very old and not competition quality by any means.

The actor portraying the Taxidermist - Give me a break. They portrayed the taxidermist as a weak weasel like character that "played with dead animals" (Jethro's words). I don't play with dead animals. He also referred to taxidermists as Medical Examiner wanabees. I too had or have no desire to be an ME. Some of us refer to ourselves as Artists and some of us refer to our profession as Taxidermy - either way we believe in our profession no matter what term we use. And we hopefully treat it with the utmost of professionalism. To use a "Norman Bates" looking character that apparently also starred in Deliverance to portray the taxidermist gave the general public a poor image of the taxidermist.

If you noticed the taxidermy studio it was depicted as a urban cave with barely any light - a great place for someone of his calibre to be hiding and lurking while he is playing with his "dead animals".

Gimme a break - If I seen a taxidermist like that I would run - and run fast - Now if they had depicted the character looking like Ken Walker - well lets just say more women may be visiting more taxidermy studios.

So Kudo's to the show for doing their research - but sorry for them for depicting us as a bunch of weak, sniveling, demented people who live under ground and play with dead animals..................

Very Accurate Portrayal

This response submitted by Grumpa on 2/9/05 at 10:13 AM. ( )

Dawn, you are looking at our profession thru rose colored glasses. The way this program portrayed us and our affliction [profession] is the way the public views us. No amount of dreaming is going to change that perception. The NTA has been trying for years now, but the results are this program[NCIS] . Unfotunately, even though some of our ranks are striving to improve our work and our image, most of the "taxidermists" out there don't give a rats ass about quality or image. If they can keep a bird from rotting for 3 days and they SAY they are a taxidermist, they beleive they are, and the public agrees. Look at some os the web sites out there. The work is attrocius, yet they IS a taxidermist. And the public agrees. Even if the bird looks like roadkill and the horns are on backwards on their deer mount, as long as the public can save a buck, the bone heads will continue to lead the way in the perception of "TAXIDERMISTS" So wake up and accept the fact that this is how the majority of the public perceives us.


This response submitted by Becky P on 2/9/05 at 10:15 AM. ( )

you must have been reading my mind. lol


This response submitted by Dawn on 2/9/05 at 10:55 AM. ( )

So what exactly do you do in life to change the perception of the public view. I say that NCIS should have filmed their little Skit in Ken Walker's studio - and went against the public perception and educate the viewers about the good aspects of taxidermy.

When animal rights groups call hunters like me "killers" I will not lay down and take that. I will continue to educate those that care to listen about hunting and the false perceptions they have been fed. As for poor quality taxidermists yes they give us all a bad name. But there are many of us out there including the likes of Ken Walker, John Matthews, Joe Meder, Mike Boyce, etc (this list could go on forever) that always hold the highest professionalism in our shops and appearances that give the public a greater perception of our trade.

A mortician would never answer his door covered in blood and embombing fluid now would he. And our profession shouldn't do it either or let people depict us in such terrible light.

It is people like you who sit back and accept the public perception as the normal that lets this behavior continually breed.

You speak of the NTA trying this for years and being unsuccessful - so you are saying they should just give up the fight. I believe the bylaws will state that we strive to be true professionals and represent our industry in the most favorable light (not exact words here - just paraphrasing). So should we change the bylaws to read that we as members of the NTA should just strive to live by the public perception that we are blood covered, sick demented individuals sitting around our gut piles while we eat our lunch.

Well I prefer to put myself in the company of the Taxidermist Professionals and let those like you wallow in your caves.


This response submitted by wilson on 2/9/05 at 11:22 AM. ( )

I also saw the show, and thought to myself; darn, Ken needs to get some more lights. Hehehe Come on, it TV and even bad advertisement is good for us.

Dawn, Dawn, Dawn

This response submitted by George on 2/9/05 at 12:49 PM. ( )

Don't get excited. This is us, you're talking too, remember? What Grumpa said IS the truth. Those of us here, LIKE YOU, and ME and all those others you named, take particular pride in changing the image to this industry, but be honest. How many times have you had a new/first time customer come into your shop and gawk, "Man, this isn't what I thought a taxidermy shop would look like!" My shop is (usually) quite clean, no blood residue, grease, guts, or rotting flesh tainting the air. My tools are organized on shadow boards and in tool boxes and my supplies are in (cluttered) cabinets with doors closed. But for every shop like mine, there are 10 who are lean-to sheds or shacks with everything mine doesn't have.

Now just think for a minute. For every BAD thing you saw in that depiction last night, some kid somewhere has a fire kindled in his soul to be just like that guy. He never noticed the crappy mounts or the dingy atmosphere, he just wants to "stuff dead things".

So be easy on Grumpa. Don't shoot the messenger. And remember, there's no such thing as BAD advertising. We have to take what we can get and to have it truthfully depicted like last night can't be a totally bad thing.

Talk about ironic

This response submitted by George on 2/9/05 at 2:11 PM. ( )

My step-daughter just came over. She had to talk to me. She asked if I'd watched Navy NCIS last night. After acknowleding that I had, she almost shouted, "Wasn't that great. Man, it was just like your shop." (So much for the story I told above, huh?) She continued, "I thought that was the neatest thing, and only Hollywood could dream up someone taking two bears and making one." She was shocked when I told her where they'd gotten the idea and showed her pictures of Ken's panda.

But you see, for all some of us SAW, others never even noticed.

the one time i miss it!

This response submitted by Griz on 2/9/05 at 2:26 PM. ( )

and all this good stuff happens!

But anyways... I am trying to get on Survivor and as soon as I do I will show the world how normal and cool and studly taxidermists really are! Maybe i will stuff a tropical fish with my portions of rice and some banana peels and paint it with ash soot and mango juice. But until they choose me to be the next survivor i guess we will have to take what we can get. LOL

I have to disagree

This response submitted by Becky P on 2/9/05 at 2:30 PM. ( )

about the "no bad advertising" comment. If you get a customer bad-mouthing you, that is bad advertising. Don't think for a minute you're going to get business out of that. I know we're talking about two different things, but... bad advertising is bad advertising.

Tv almost always portrays taxidermist as creepy, suspicious, elevator-doesn't-make-it-to-the-top-floor people. Makes me sick.
Last night was the first episode I'd seen of that show, it will also be my last.

"Truthfully depicted"? NOT.
I know there are alot of hacks out there. But I can't see how portaying us in that light (or lack of), can be in the least bit helpful.
I did not grow up around hunting (I married into it). I saw the Norman Bates portrayal and thought taxidermy was disgusting when I was a kid. Seeing that episode would have only re-enforced that feeling.
I am a taxidermist now. I find it fascinating. But you know the questions you get in the shop, the "are the eyes real" and "is the meat still in there" questions. That's what the majority of the population thinks (I did too at one time). If a hunter has no clue, how can we expect non-hunters to even begin to understand what's involved.
This is only my opinion and no one else has to agree. BP

Hey Griz

This response submitted by Becky P on 2/9/05 at 2:35 PM. ( )

that would be awesome. Hope ya make it on there. :)


This response submitted by wilson on 2/9/05 at 3:00 PM. ( )

do you know how a car works or is made? Do you want or even care what those little thingys that go up and down do or are made of, most people don;t, same with taxidermy.


This response submitted by wilson on 2/9/05 at 3:02 PM. ( )

in your tape to them , don;t push the fact ;WE eat our young. hehe


This response submitted by Becky P on 2/9/05 at 3:21 PM. ( )

Actually a lot of it, yes I do. You see, I'm a race fan and my son races. I can also do a little body work if need be. I'm pretty good with bondo. And if I don't know something, I'm not bashful about asking. If I do have to call a pro for something, I want to know the who, what, why and how and then I research it because I don't like to be screwed. And believe it or not, there are "pro's" out there that will screw you. I try not to be too ignorant. I try to educate myself.

Oh, they are pistons, they create combustion, they make the car run. LOL :)
I see your point, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with the show's portrayal. BP

You know, when you can't laugh at yourself.....

This response submitted by George on 2/9/05 at 3:33 PM. ( )

.....Life must be rather dull.

Badmouthing has a 50/50 chance for everyone. Your work speaks louder. If the badmouther was correct and you do crappy work, then you get what you deserve. If he had an ax to grind, your reputable customers will more than counter any remarks being made. (BTW - That old saw wasn't mine. That's been the credo of business for ages).

When Frank Newmyer said that all taxidermists should wear black socks and dress shoes, I cracked up. I'm sure that works for Frank, but I spent 30 years in a uniform with black socks and spit shined shoes. Where did that get me? I'm still a taxidermist aren't I?

Becky, you spoke of Norman Bates, but you neglected to say that people feel the same eerie feeling when dealing with morticians and undertakers. They don't help it by playing the solumn macabre organ music and standing around like buzzards on a fence post when you go to pass your last respects, but guess what? EVERYONE ENDS UP THERE! When's the last time you heard someone say, "I'll never take another dead body to that undertaker. He did such a sh1tty job on Aunt Matilda that she just looked dead and not like she was asleep." EXCUSE ME?

As taxidermists, we are often to quick to label someone else as a "haxidermist" or some other unsavory name. None of us started as experts. And the best undertaker jokes come from undertakers. Maybe we should try a little levity in our profession as well.


This response submitted by wilson on 2/9/05 at 3:35 PM. ( )

So you got me , but will krowtan make it idle smoother?


This response submitted by Becky P on 2/9/05 at 3:50 PM. ( )

I have a friend that is a mortician. And he has had to re-make-up a few bodies a time or two because they didn't get the coloring right. lol They also need reference pics before death. And some morticians are better than others, just like taxidermists. (I wonder what they call a hack-mortician. A hacktician?)
Morticians will always have a job. Everybody will need one, you don't have much choice. They could all be bad, but you'd still need one. But not everyone needs a taxidermist.
Laughing at yourself is one thing, having others laugh at you is quite anoher. :)
Oh, btw, I don't play organ music in my shop. Maybe I should, then the image would be complete. Think I need to dim the lights too? haha
See, George, I'm trying to laugh. ;)

Ya know, Wilson,

This response submitted by Becky P on 2/9/05 at 3:53 PM. ( )

that I don't know. Maybe we should ask George. Ya know he just LOVES those krowtann questions. HAHAHA

You're OK Becky

This response submitted by George on 2/9/05 at 4:01 PM. ( )

WE actually need more people like you who are proud enough of their work to be defensive.


This response submitted by Becky P on 2/9/05 at 5:08 PM. ( )

Thanks :)

our image will be changing...

This response submitted by Jeanette Hall on 2/9/05 at 5:39 PM. ( eagle93245@yahoo.com )

very soon. When the BBC documentary comes out next spring the public's eyes will see what it is we do. We will no longer look like cavemen working under filthy, bloody conditions (OK, so I need to clean my studio floor), and the public will get to see what we are all about. When they came to film me I DID clean the floors, wipe up all the blood from the countertop, washed my apron for once and tried to give an overall appearance of santitzation for the public eye to view. Now, since they are filming people on their way to the World show, you had to acquire your specimen for the beginning of your segment. I chose a coyote. There was blood involved, but I did not let them film me skinning it out. I want to help make our industry look good. The whole time the BBC was here filming, I kept it in my head that millions of people might watch this. I explained the importance of keeping predators, including showpiece coyotes, in check. I educated them about antis and how they try to ruin our business. I think 7 other people are involved in this documentary. Ken Walker is among them. When we attend the World show the BBC will be there to finish their documentary. I know that everyone will present our industry in a fantastic light. We need this SO much to improve our image. The women in this industry are the ones who can break the stereotype, in my opinion. Let's show the world that we are not a bunch of wierdoes working in caves (except for Tom Voyer)LOL!


This response submitted by wilson on 2/9/05 at 5:59 PM. ( )

i will see that on 2-4-6-7-9-12-20 or 31?
I still stand by ;the world could care less , maybe 5% of the sportsmen care and i don't think they care how it's done just that you hurry up.
hehe, we realy need to get over ourselfs.

I guess Im getting old

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 2/9/05 at 10:02 PM. ( )

I dont see what all the excitement is about. We ARE a funny group, as taxidermists. For every one of you who thinks hes been portrayed as a cheap Norman Bates, theres ten of you out there somewhere who really ARE like Norman. Dont sweat it. When the day comes that folks stop getting things mounted for fear that their car will wind up in the pond behind your shop, THEN youll need to worry. In the meantime, just keep your own image up, and clean, and be sure to wipe your hands off before going to the door.

What are the writers thinking?

This response submitted by Bill Waldrip on 2/16/05 at 8:32 AM. ( )

Why have the writers mucked up a good show, with nit-wit portrayal's
like the character of DeNoso ( Iam not sure how his name it spelled )
he is a total distraction, from what should be a good crime show. Mark Harman and the rest of the cast are great! I realize it is not the actor , it's the writer's! I really feel, that if they don"t do something about this fairly soon...by by NCIS! ( a real shame ).

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