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Seriously: What do YOU think should be a fatal flaw in competition taxidermy?

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Nancy C, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. Nancy C

    Nancy C Well-Known Member

    In taxidermy judging, a fatal flaw is a problem with a mount that is so serious that it eliminates it from having any chance of receiving an award. As I understand it, the judge can, at their discretion, walk away from it after saying "fatal flaw" and not even fill out the scoresheet.

    I have been thinking about this quite a bit recently, and when I did a search for the term I came up with all sorts of results that I didn't expect.
    One person suggested that using a jawset from the wrong species should be a fatal flaw. To me, that seems like a pretty serious problem but not exactly in the same category as a fatal flaw.
    Another person thought that it might be more along the lines of "That kind of animal NEVER does that because it CAN'T" Again, I think that would be a serious deduction (if true) but not a fatal flaw.

    As I understand it, a fatal flaw is a failure to meet the most basic, minimum criteria for professional taxidermy, ie: the preservation of a formerly living creature so that it is stable, free from decay, and sturdy enough to be displayed in a reasonably safe environment without falling apart or breaking.

    Fatal flaws, to me, are the sorts of things that would apply to ALL aspects of taxidermy, not to just one category. I think of things like catastrophic mechanical failure - in other words, parts falling off or moving due to nothing more than the kind of gentle handling that mounts should be able to withstand. Major OOPS!

    Another fatal flaw would be any noticeable odor of decay. Something is very wrong with a mount if any part of it smells rotten.

    Also, in competition, wet mounts should routinely be fatal flawed. I think every judge has seen this happen, and it is very sad to have to pass over a beautiful mount just because the competitor didn't finish it soon enough for it to be dry. Shrinkage is one of those things that we all have to batttle with, and I have known competitors who deliberately waited until the last possible minute, trying to guess that perfect moment between having a wet mount and having one that is shriveling up. Sometimes that sort of gamble might pay off, but, more often than not, it will bite them in the a$$. Or at least I think that it should.

    Anyway, those three things were the only ones I could come up with that, to me, would be honest-to-god fatal flaws.

    Competitors, judges, former judges, anybody with a professional interest --- even you gas-assers -
    Do you agree or disagree?
    Can you think of any that I've missed?
  2. RDA

    RDA Active Member

    interesting..I myself never fatal flawed a piece, although i should have LOL! I always felt to just fatal flaw something was cheating the competitor a little. I once judged a show where there were very few in the masters level birds, and there was only one which looked like a blue ribbon, cept it was so wet it was still flapping! To COMPLICATE matters, it was a former seminar attendee of mine LMAO!!! :D Ive ALWAYS had a problem with NOT giving best of catagorys due to severe emotional bruisings during my competitions and i gave the mount a blue and thus best of catagory....YEEESH i cuaght some poop for that! I did chastise the competitor that they knew better!LOL But there were only like 3 or 4 masters level birds. I stuck with my guns, but that was an instance where a flaw might have been appropriate.

  3. Crittercoroner

    Crittercoroner DUDE, your uselessness is epic!

    Jawset from a coon to a fox, fatal flaw, if you're not going to get the right parts, you're not serious about learning anything. Jawset from an elk to a red stag, probably close enough to get a pass. One of those McKenzie bugling elk full jawset deal might or might not work for a roaring red stag, looks to me like there is enough difference in the two's vocalizations that there is a difference in the way the mouth is shaped.

    Mechanics, odors, and basics, as well as those dreaded agony/death poses. Well, that's just standard, isn't it??
  4. jtcjr

    jtcjr Member

    smell and still being wet are the biggest ones i have seen
  5. antlerman

    antlerman NTA Life Member #0118

    a skunk that smells somewhat like a .....well, ......a skunk.

    A fish that smells somewhat like a fish
  6. I too have a problem with wet mounts. To me it's cheating by the competitor knowing that his/her mount won't be dry enough to have shrinkage yet. Wet mount should be number one. Then bad odors and/or rotten hair losing hide should be next. JMO :)
  7. Odor and wet.

    Anything else should be pointed out to the person to help them improve......the other 2 they should know.....hopefully.
  8. Dreamwing

    Dreamwing New Member

    Im with RDA on this one.
  9. Old Fart

    Old Fart Active Member

    The "fatal flaw" is Bull$hit. It's an easy way for a lazy judge to get out of giving the critique to the mount that the taxidermist PAID for when they entered the mount. If a mount has a "major" problem it should be no problem for a competent judge to find a lot of OTHER problems to take it out of ribbon consideration. If a mount has a big problem it HAS a lot more problems, too.
  10. justin33

    justin33 New Member

    Nail in the ear!!! :-\ LMAO
  11. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    X2. I had by first encounter with a fatal flaw at my second competition. I mounted a skunk in a bed of flowers sniffing a butterfly. I was pretty proud of it and was sure it would contend with other mounts there. When I went in to look for ribbons, "Rosebud" had none. I was a bit perplexed when I saw mounts of obviously less quality with ribbons so I asked. I was told it was "fatal flawed" and the judge had left the show. I demanded to know what the fatal flaw was and the answer I got back was " the skunk has no scrotum and genitals". I was livid. I know the comp chair was uneasy with my attitude but I asked him loud enough so anyone could here, "Are you telling me in order to compete I have to put a pecker and nuts on a female skunk?" He said he'd have it rejudged, but I told him to stick it.

    Odor and wet should be the only considerations because both signify someone trying to beat the system.
    Anything else is a mechanical issue that should have major deductions.
  12. Cole

    Cole Amateur Taxidermist

    I'll add one that I think should also be a fatal flaw.


    If it has bugs it should be fatal flawed and removed from the competition room. Any flaws beyond those three should be marked on the score sheet. Fatal flawing a piece for jawsets and peckers is silly.
  13. Nancy C

    Nancy C Well-Known Member

    Oh man --- I didn't even think about bugs!
    You are right. A mount with bugs on it should be taken out of the show room immediately.
    It might be a complete accident, but still --- it should have been noticed and dealt with.
  14. Bill Yox

    Bill Yox Well-Known Member

    Wet...it simply isnt done yet.

    Strong smell...not a mount we want to display, but Id say lets still judge it and give him a critique, but remove it from the main display.

    Bugs...see above.

    Inappropriate mount or pose...shouldnt be accepted at the door if theres rules, so no fatal flaw would be needed.

    I have not FF'd a mount in 20-some years of judging...
  15. James Parrish

    James Parrish Tundra Swan...Its What's For Dinner!

    I'll go along with the wet, odor, or bugs. You have to be careful on the odor, though. I have mounted seaducks and mergansers that smelled fishy (when you stuck your nose to them) for a couple months after they were dry. On the odor, I would have to smell it from a distance if I were going to fatal flaw the piece. I have seen several other things I would fatal flaw if I were judging....ex. goldeneye mount with shoveler bill, pintail legs painted bright orange. If you are competing in a professional or masters competition, you should know better than to do stupid stuff like that. Even if I FFd the piece, I would still complete the scoresheet and offer a critique.

    BTW, I would never fatal flaw an amateur piece. I don't care what the circumstances. That is a person's first competition and I can remember how much courage it took to step out and put your work in front of a judge for the first time.
  16. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    LOL James, but I gotta ask, why "fatal flaw" it? I mean there's already a kiss of death on the piece with the wrong bill (sounds a lot like the wrong jaw set). Remember, a fatal flaw is refusal to judge and the entrant DID pay to have it judged. Seems like a "30" or "40" would work just as well.

    Does ANYONE know where "fatal flaw" came from anyway? I've heard about it for years but never saw any definitive answer as to origin and guidelines. Sounds like it was made up and has a "fatal flaw" itself.
  17. antlerman

    antlerman NTA Life Member #0118


    I think it got it's origin right here, so I was told.
  18. Bill Yox

    Bill Yox Well-Known Member

    I too feel fatal flaw is left for extreme situations, as like I said, I might remove certain mounts as stated above, but STILL judge them and critique them. They did pay for that too.

    I was once fatal flawed at an IGT show. Heres the skinny. We drove up in a friends car, left the mounts in the back while we went in for a bit...too long I guess, cuz those mounts got HOT. One of mine, a coyote shoulder mount, heated up to the point that although there was no structural problems like cracking or melting, the flies would NOT stay away from it. I mean they wanted that mount as though it contained spoiled meat. Later on, I was told the mount was removed unjudged because they saw fly eggs in the ears. I was so pissed back then, as that same head won BofC with a perfect 100 score (at the time) and I knew there wasnt any meat in the ears...they were reproduced by me! But, thats how it was handled.

    So, I see alternatives to FFing them, personally...plus Im a helluva nice judge... ;)
  19. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    The are the reasons to NOT RIBBON a piece and certainly BUGS should be removed immediately...By finding the OWNER of the piece and explaining discriminately.

    I would say I am pretty hardcore about scoring in taxidermy shows. I usually feel TOO MANY ribbons are given away. On the other hand FATAL FLAWING a piece causes too many hard feelings...and NOT just for the guy who got it. A piece can always be given a low score rather than be a hardass.
  20. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

    One other variation one might consider is an inappropriate mount. I do believe that in Pennsylvania there is a procedure to remove the mount from the show if it shows an animal in agony - i.e. for example a bobcat stuck in a trap struggling away with exposed bloody flesh, or a deer with an arrow in it - I even saw a mount with the head reaching around and trying to pull the arrow out with some blood visible. In these circumstances, the mount could and perhaps was judged, but it was not allowed on the floor because of the bad press that the mount would give the field of taxidermy.

    The second possible variation would be an "art piece". At the traditional Taxidermy show as "we" understand it, the animals are mounted in an attempt to look like the species. Now if someone came in with a bird mount sporting a ringneck tail, parrot head, duck bill, and turkey legs and body, I'm not so sure that it would be judged. The craft-manship wouldn't even need to be good, as the "artist" was perhaps looking for the bedraggled look. In that case how would you handle it Nance?