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An Open Letter to Carl Akeley

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Joe Kish, Jul 1, 2016.


    WLELTD Active Member

    Writing a letter to a dead guy? Bible say's the dead are aware of nothing.For a so called intelligent person, I don't get it.You are just stirring the toilet bowl
  2. . Well said Cole

  3. dplais7124

    dplais7124 Active Member

    I was bored on my lunch break so I read all 11 pages of this thread. My conclusion...some of you have absolutely nothing better to do than to find a reason to complain about someone else's accomplishments. You guys sound like the narrow minded old man who claims that the only good music is from his "glory days" and nothing will ever compare. The industry isn't what it was when you came into it. Accept it and move on. Why be bitter just for the sake of being bitter? There's a fine line between critiquing art and being a jerk. I know...I'm a taxidermist, flat artist and musician. I've had plenty people tell me they didn't like my work. But never in such an unprofessional, condescending, holier than thou way as it was done here. You guys should just continue your streak of not attending conventions. Us ribbon chasers sure aren't missing you or your irrelevant antiquated opinions.
  4. Derek if there was a like button I woukd click it on your post.
    But you should know the only good music WAS in the 70's early 80's.
    Long live hair bands
    Oh and Florida Georgia line is about as county as Tupac Shurka

    Oh lord now im a narrow minded old man. Lol
  5. Brian Reinertson

    Brian Reinertson Well-Known Member

    I'll speak for Derek here, what he would say is the only good music comes from a band called Nickelback.
  6. yep got a few good-ens.

    I like your pants around your feet
    And I like the dirt that's on your knees
    And I like the way you say please
    While you're looking up at me
    You're like my favorite damn disease

  7. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    I guess I have the advantage on some of you. You see, I read "A Conversation with Carl Akeley - A Play in One Act" TWICE.

    Initially my opinion was that the book was a poor attempt to tie current days with our past. I'm always casting a jaded eye toward the written word anyway and knowing what I do (what little there is to that), I didn't look any deeper. The part where the taxidermist asked Akeley if he thought of himself as an artist got me. The man I've read about was a narcissistic egomaniac who just happened to be quite talented. I can only imagine his tossing the questioner out on his ear had he been asked that. Akeley brought a style to our industry that had never been seen before and he had a right to be offended by such a silly question.

    Then I reread the book and an amazing thing happened. I realized a lot of things. The first of which was that Joe wasn't trying to steal Akeley's thunder, but rather putting it into a perspective that the modern taxidermist could understand. In talking to Richard Christoforo, he told me to look for the subtle analogies and even people Joe was inferring to. Suddenly it all made sense. Had Joe written a book about Joe, very few of you would bother to even pick it up. Joe is Joe and what you see is what you get. Unvarnished, sometimes unpolished, and often times controversial and inciting, but if you toss out those prejudices, it boils down that when the roll is called for taxidermists, his name is going to be somewhere at the top. Like him, love him, or hate him, it doesn't matter and it certainly doesn't matter to Joe.

    So before any of you decide to slander the book, you should read it first. You can't all be Nancy Pelosi Democrats. But when you do, don't do like I did during my first read. Look for those things. A much better suggestion is one Richard had: EVERYONE SHOULD BUY A COPY. If you've been in business over 5-10 years, you should read it with what I said in mind. If you HAVEN'T been in taxidermy that long, DO NOT READ IT. Set it on your bookshelf as a keepsake of what we do. When you reach that benchmark, THEN pick it up and read it. You'll be amazed to find out that the book was directed towards you at the beginning of your career and not at the end of it. You'll find out that your personal experiences with taxidermy weren't anywhere close to being unique and that at some point, we all get there.

    Now I know taxidermists well enough to know EXACTLY what you're thinking: Why should I make Joe rich. Now that's bullspit. Here's my experience in writing a book. As you know, I wrote my first some years back and much like taxidermy as a national hobby, mine was on hunting which also has an extremely limited audience. Unless you're Hemingway or Grey or Capstick, your prospective buys are limited. In my case, I had to pay a $1000 retainer to the publisher. Then I was contractually bound to purchase 1000 books from the printer at $5 @. The publisher then took the books and marketed them. The price was listed at $14. Of that $14, the seller would retain 40% of each one sold. Of the $8.40 now left, I was obligated to pay 40% to my publisher. That means that for every book I had to buy, i made a whopping 4 CENTS PROFIT. I sold a few but I've given away about 500 of them since it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out I wasn't going to be another Robert Ruark. So just buy the damned book and tell your grandkids you actually knew the guy who wrote it. They'll think you're somebody important.
  8. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    Wow ! I couldn't have said it any better or NICER than George . The lifers among us will understand the book instantly and to a point that it will scare them. All the short timers , don't open it, put it on the shelf and when you are getting fried in taxidermy ( you will ), hate your customers who try to nickel and dime you to death and they don't know their arse from a hole in the wall , tired of poor cash flow , no bennies , no paid vacation , 24/7 labor intensive job scheduale that effects family life . Take it out and read it twice , slow . I met Joe Kish in the early 70s and nicknamed him " The Guru of Good Taxidermy " . He was a man before his time then and still is .
    Thanks Joe
  9. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

    Speak for yourself Richard, (you will) doesn't apply to me. 32 years full time for a living and my wife doesn't have a job she works with me. Not one of these applies to us.

    "hate your customers who try to nickel and dime you to death and they don't know their arse from a hole in the wall , tired of poor cash flow , no bennies , no paid vacation , 24/7 labor intensive job scheduale that effects family life ."

    If you bring up the paid vacation thing, the profits from my business pay for my vacations, among which are 6 african safaris, 9 Alaska hunting and fishing trips, BC, Quebec, numerous mountain states. Trips to london twice , Hawaii all from business profit not my salary. And not to mention we are 100% debt free.

    This business and industry have been very good to us, we have made a very good living for many years (I could retire comfortably right now if I wanted) I work hard and enjoy making my own living doing something I love. My customers are educated , intelligent men and women who know what they want and don't mind paying for it. I can assure you they do know "their arse from a hole in the ground".

    The one point that I will never understand is why would anyone put stock in this mans opinion about the taxidermy business, if he is so smart , so full of insight then why has he NEVER done commercial taxidermy full time, Has NEVER owned a commercial taxidermy business much less a successful one and hasn't done even handful of pieces in 35 yrs. Where does all this wealth of knowledge about our industry come from?

    I guess I could buy it and put it on the shelf but I'll be sitting on a cloud before any of that stuff will happen to us.
  10. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    You are one of the lucky ones , congratulations. If you grade this business on the " Bell Curve scale" 1/3 on the top is doing good the middle third is a nickel holding up a dime , they can't go out of business because they need this seasons deposits to get through the year/winter even though the last seasons work isn't done , the bottom third is out of business and they don't know it .They are mostly fried on the whole thing .
    You are in a great geographical location for taxidermy and are a great business man something sadly missing in this business.
    In some geographical locations I think taxidermy will go underground and a taxidermist will be harder to find than a drug
    dealer. A lawyer told me that as he couldn't find a taxidermist in his area.
    Who has the midas touch in business in America, "the Jews" , how many Jews in taxidermy ? Why ? Around here all the small businesses , corner stores, gas stations , restaurants , are owned by people from India , Pakistan, middle east , none in taxidermy . No American blacks in taxidermy , why ? Maybe we need to diversify to be respected and accepted . Most of us that got into this were dumb white boys.
    As your geographical area becomes more "progressive" it is looked upon as a alien vocation and you as weird .
    Why Kish didn't do all those things you asked , you will have to ask him . I'm sure he would be happy to tell you.
    I'm sure it is difficult being in his area and dealing with him every day .
    We will have to sit down and have a long talk on this . Come to the Northern Maine show and we will do that .
  11. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

    Luck had nothing to do with it
  12. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Jerry, I don't live your life and don't mean to impugn your integrity, but all the braggodosio isn't going to change either facts or human nature. I strongly suspect your comments have less to do with what the book says than what you personally feel about the author. Richard and I are going on twice the time in this business than you and we've been around the best if the best who've ALL shared the sentiments Richard expressed. I do agree that your situation had nothing to do with luck and more to do with having a blind eye to the human nature around you. My experiences with Joe are well known, but defending truth, regardless of its source, is something I'm cock and arrogant about. I doubt you've read the book so implying that you couldn't learn from it is ego talking, not reality. Don't hurt you own integrity by embellishing it at the expense of others - especially someone you don't like.
  13. Taxiserv

    Taxiserv James Newport

    It's really sad to see all the resentment and venom spewed at our industry by quote unquote icons who haven't reached the success they deserve or atleast think they do because they have been in the industry so long! I've only operated my studio 17 years so I'm nowhere close to that level of bitterness. I still enjoy being a taxidermist.
    I just wonder if all old cooks hate the lunch crowd as much as old taxidermists hate our industry???
  14. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    Like I said ,"You are in a great geographical location for taxidermy and are a GREAT BUISNESS MAN something sadly missing in this business. YOU are "lucky " to have those business skills , and you should share them with all us dumb white boys.
    You need to give back now and do business seminars at many state, national and world shows . We don't need more bird or deer how to seminars.
    Someone called me this morning a long time taxidermist and said when they went in this business they thought they were going to be Jerry Huffaker but that never happened. They want out now but can't because of all the things I mentioned.
  15. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    James your in Texas too, god's country for taxidermists with all the exotic ranches and deer country. I hope all the struggling taxidermists that read this realize they need to move to Texas. I'm going to take a break from Texas today and not wear my " Los Cazadores" camo hat.
  16. Taxiserv

    Taxiserv James Newport

    HaHa Richard your right geography is the only thing that matters in business. Nothing else that's why every studio in Texas is automatically successful. I have done a business seminar in Texas for the last two years in a row. Jerry joined in on the seminar last year as well.
  17. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    James, suddenly you sound like one of those bitter taxidermists you lamented about. Did you read the book? I keep seeing all these negative critiques from people who haven't even read the book.
  18. michael p.

    michael p. Getting better with age :)

    When it's written by an arrogant a**hole you kind of get a negative anticipation.
  19. Taxiserv

    Taxiserv James Newport

    This thread wasn't about the book until u got confused on your threads. I have not read the book I am referring to the consistent negativity slung upon our industry.
  20. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Well-Known Member

    Readers who may wish to purchase a copy of the book, A Conversation With Carl Akeley, will find all the details in John Janelli’s post of May 18, 2017, with the same title as the book. (See John’s posting below.)