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taking in new species...how do you know if you are ready?

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by juli, May 27, 2014.

  1. juli

    juli Active Member

    I feel pretty competent in my abilities as a taxidermist - my ability to read reference material and also to use the skills I have learned and apply them to 'new' mounts, but found myself in a situation today that I wasn't prepared to give an answer for....

    Had a guy call me today asking if I do african mounts. I said 'no, I honestly don't, because I don't feel comfortable taking money for doing mounts I have limited experience doing." He understood but was disappointed I think...I am sure he saw some pix of my other work elsewhere...

    Soooo, while kicking myself for turning down business on the one hand, I am forced to wonder...

    when do other taxidermist give a 'go' for mounting things they've never mounted? At what point do you say, 'Yep, I can mount that for you'. Especially if you have no photos or references to show that you really have experience with that or those animals?

  2. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    I wont advocate practicing on customer work but, how will you ever know when you are ready? If you are straight forward from the get go, and the customer is on board, I say go for it. There are issues that have to be dealt with on just about everything you mount, you deal with them the best you are able to and move on. Your job is to sell yourself and your abilities to a prospective customer and let them make the decision.

  3. Paul B

    Paul B Active Member

    I bought a few capes and horns years ago and did a little practice. No better way then hands on. Besides there are plenty taxidermist that have a hard time mounting a decent whitetail and have no problem taking in African work. If you have no problem mounting North American animals, African work isn't that bad, just have to know anatomy and where to put all the skin.
  4. Major

    Major New Mexico.....Not much different than the old one

    I mount my "first" one all of the time. If you are confident, go for it! If you are unsure, consult with someone in your area who has, and is willing to help out. Have lots of reference available, and sound fundamentals. You'll be fine. The biggest thing with African work is the finish work. Way more involved than your typical deer head.
  5. Duckslayr

    Duckslayr Active Member

    See if you can hire a taxidermist experienced in African mounts to do a couple with you. You will learn a few techniques and tips that are unique to African mounts from a good teacher, and will save you a lot of trouble compared to trial and error.

    That being said, some of the best mounts I've ever done have been "firsts". I tend pay attention to reference a little closer when I don't have a preconceived idea of how it should look in my mind. Go for it!
  6. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Couldn't be said any better.
  7. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    I have to say that I feel just as "difficult" in African work is the fact that you usually have no measurements to work from and not NEARLY as many forms to choose from. Trust me if you are going to take on African/Exotics you will need to be fairly proficient at form alterations...using measurements you take from a tanned skin.

    Not talking just lengthening or shortening faces...total alteration.
  8. michael p.

    michael p. Getting better with age :)

    Just quote s little 'higher than normal ' price , network through leaders of state associations. & find yourself a competent taxidermist in that field of expertise who can help out..... you get paid to learn & build new clients!
  9. James Parrish

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

    Chris Barnhardt once told me that if you can mount a mouse, you can mount a grizzly bear. I've lived by that advice my whole career. I've had a bunch of "firsts" that were customer pieces and they all turned out great because I had confidence that I could do them.

    You'll know when you're ready for African work. If you can't sew a hole in a short haired whitetail cape you surely aren't going to be able to do African work. Like others said, if you are good at repairing damaged hides, can alter forms, and are proficient at finish work, African work isn't any "harder" than anything else. Just expect it to take you longer because you will likely have to repair multiple problems on each cape and alter the forms to what you need.
  10. Rick Carter

    Rick Carter Administrator

    A good taxidermist can mount an alien from another world as long as good reference is available.
  11. mdupertuis

    mdupertuis Active Member

    James, Chris Barnhardt told me the exact same thing, and it was good advice.

    I'd contact him back and tell him you will take in the work. There are lots of skins and horns for sale and you can buy one to practice on first if you really wanted to. Between that, videos, and asking for help you will be surprised what you can do if you have good taxidermy skills.
  12. Nyati

    Nyati I love tahr huntin

    Couldn't agree more Robert
  13. Honestly.... I haven't found much difference from a mouse to a moose. Use good solid prep work and techniques as you would on anything else you have ever mounted and most of all,as others have advised, Good Reference.

    Ya can't hit the ball if ya don't swing at it.
  14. juli

    juli Active Member

    Thanks all for the great advice. I really appreciate it. All sound for certain.:)
  15. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

    . + 1 , I say go for it , use a lot of good reference and you'll be fine.
  16. If you were not confident doing it you probably were not ready. Buy a few capes and horns, mount them up and see how you feel.
    Like Major and George said, it is all about being confident with it. There are a lot of different species on this planet and if you need practice on each one before doing it for a customer you are going to be able to start your own museum, lol. You should get to a point as stated earlier that you will have the confidence to take in pretty much anything, get good reference, and possibly ask a few questions to someone who has done them. You will know when you have the confidence in your ability to read reference and put pretty much anything together. Good luck!!
  17. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    "Confidence" is highly overrated. I know lots of "confident" taxidermists who do crappy work.
  18. Juli , I have a copy of Ron Shawfers kudu video you can borrow. And I can offer some pointers. Get in touch with me next week.
  19. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    George, I think you have a valid point there.
  20. I didn't mean that confidence makes one good. I was just saying if someone is uncomfortable or not confident in doing something for a customer they may not be ready. Eventually you get to a point where with reference you can do one specie as good as the next or close anyway. Or as bad as the next but at least consistent, lol