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What's the future of taxidermy?

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Cecil, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Do you see the number of dedicated taxidermists going up, down, or staying about the same?

    Not a negative post just curious what your thoughts are.

    I see a full-time taxidermist in my area is retiring, and another is throwing in the towel as he has other commitments, and can work somewhere else for more money and less stress. A lot of the people I knew when I was involved in the state taxidermy association have left the field years ago. Some died early.

    BTW just ordered a piece of driftwood and a pair of eyes and the total bill was about $50.00 and that was using USPS. I usually order more at a time but there are times when that is not an option. A typical order for me is a few hundred dollars and when I hear the total I'm like, "I didn't think I ordered that much." ;D

    I can't believe what fish mannikins cost these days compared to just a decade ago. Yeah Yeah increase your prices blah blah blah, but there is a limit to that. Fortunately I have diversified and am finding local sources wherever I can. Looks like I will go back to carving all my mannikins if I can find a local source for the blue foam billets. (The local source I talked to wanted me to buy a minimum of 20). There was a time when I didn't believe carving my own mannikins was cost effective due to the time saved by buying some, but I believe that is no longer the case. I do use the half cast method for my panfish.
  2. Kerby Ross

    Kerby Ross KSU - Class of '83; U.S. Army - Infantry (83-92)

    Actually .............

    **Yeah Yeah increase your prices blah blah blah**

    Actually raising your prices IS THE ANSWER.



  3. buck

    buck Member

    kirb y i saw from another post you were from wayne co ohio orrville? my sister inlaw taught school there and was volleyball coach for many years just wondering thanks
  4. Bill Yox

    Bill Yox Well-Known Member

    Cecil, I see it as a cycle in general. When jobless rates take a turn for the worse, you start seeing more and more one man operations, side jobs like plumbers, home repair, firewood sales, and yes, taxidermists. Then when jobs become available, many of those part-timers go back to full-time employment again.

    As the older taxidermists retire, or pass, theres more often just a closed door, not too many taxidermists take over at that location. But there seems to be enough young taxidermists around in the more successful areas, and in the areas where jobs were harder to find.

    Hard part is, its often a recipe for failure. The guy cant get his regular job back, so now he does part-time work, like taxidermy, under the table. But he cant get the going rate...because hes operating in that area with those lost jobs. Everyones without those jobs.

    Youre seeing those higher shipping rates along with higher material costs. Youre no dummy of course, so I know you realize that we should be adjusting our price as they adjust our costs. I truly believe that once that adjustment occurs across the board, people as consumers will also come around. Its a lot better idea than holding down prices, and make progressively less.

    Thats my feelings on it, for what its worth.
  5. Kerby Ross

    Kerby Ross KSU - Class of '83; U.S. Army - Infantry (83-92)

    buck ....... Somewhat ............

    My dad went to high school at Orrville in the early 1950's (Bobby Knight was a couple of years behind my dad). My dad went into the Army in 1954, I was born in 1959 and we traveled everywhere. When we came back from Germany in 1973 I went to Orrville and played in the fall of 1973, football and basketball, 9th grade. We moved to Ft. Riley in 1974 and came back for awhile in 1975-1976. In 1975 I went to Northwestern HS and took taxidermy there as a science class (Mr. Pim), then to Orrville HS for a little while. I graduated from Junction City, KS HS in 1977. My grandmother's maiden name is Skelley from that area (Ohio). But I didn't grow up there as I was a Army BRAT.


  6. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the thoughtful post Bill. Makes a lot of sense.

    On a funny note I remember reading some kind of government publication in high school in the 70's on different careers, salaries, future prospects etc. It's amusing to think back on what it said about taxidermy. It said that taxidermy was almost exclusively practiced in museums anymore, and the prospects for taxidermy in the public sector were almost nonexistent. Obviously some scholar that had submitted that particular entry didn't do much research.
  7. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    So you were an Army brat too? I think Yox was too?

    Where in Germany was your dad stationed? My dad enlisted in the Army about the same time as yours.

    We were in Karlsruhe the first time and Bad Tolz the second time. I was born in Ft. Knox. One of my sisters was born in Heidelberg.

    My dad met my mother in Germany.

    What's really ironic is she had an American relative that was Colonel in the U.S. Army in WWII while my grandfather was a crew member on a U-boat. My grandfather didn't stick around very long as he didn't like the odds. He was a lousy solider.
  8. furtanshop

    furtanshop New Member

    There are only two areas where I can actually count the numbers are down

    Three years ago the state taxidermy Lic. was over 900.. New list I just got was 750

    trade magazine had subscriptions of over 8000 at one time , if that number was real .. Now paid number is just under 5000

    Are these numbers an accurate profile of the current trends . Trying to figure out supplier ads is just a guess

    Over all I do not think taxidermy is a growth business!

    I have not had time to check dept. of commerce for import records for imported hunters trophies

    about 8 years there were over 14,000 hunts in Africa and 70 percent were American , there was no way to tell how many of those left their trophies in Africa to be mounted there.
  9. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    I don't know if you could really count this in the overall scheme of the number of taxidermist. I am not knocking what you are saying so please don't take this the wrong way. I would be willing to bet that at least one-third of those subscribing to the trade publications are nothing more than hobbyist like myself. Even during the years when I was not doing anything I continued my subscription.

    The only real true way to find out is by the number of licenses issued but then you have the ones that are operating under the table without proper licensing. Just my two cents worth!
  10. Kerby Ross

    Kerby Ross KSU - Class of '83; U.S. Army - Infantry (83-92)

    Cecil, ..............

    I was born at Ft. Knox, KY in Jan 1959. I was only there for a few months that I recall - lol!

    Ft. Knox - 1959
    Nuremberg, Germany 1959-1962
    Yuma Proving Grounds, AZ 1962-1964
    Paris, Orleans, Camp de Loges, France 1964-1967
    Hobart, IN 1967-1968
    Parma, OH 1968-1970
    Neu Ulm, Frankfurt, Germany 1970-1973
    Orrville, OH 1973-1974
    Ft. Riley, KS 1974-1975

    My dad was a Army Recruiter at times hence the Hobart, IN, Parma, OH, and Orrville, OH locations.

    And then I was in the Army (Infantry) from 1983-1992


  11. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I was born in Ft.Knox Dec. 5, 1957 along with my twin. Maybe we had the same Army doctor. LOL I wasn't there that long either as we moved to Germany, and I learned to speak German as my first language due to my father being in the field all the time and raised by my mother and relatives.

    I served in the ANG from 86-92. My dad convinced me to avoid the Army believe it or not. LOL

    My dad started out in Combat Engineers and retired from Special Forces. My favorite Army base my dad was stationed at was the former Ft. Devens, Massachusetts from 67-71. I did a lot of fishing there as kid. People talk about Minnesota being the land of 10,000 lakes, but Mass has 5000 lakes and reservoirs and is much smaller than Minnesota.

    The Kaserne in Bad Tolz was a former Gestapo base. I swear I saw ghosts there as a kid! The area was beautiful but the place gave me a funny feeling and i didn't know the history at the time.

    Did you trade comic books from door to door as kid on the American posts in Germany? That was a big thing for us as there was nothing on TV.
  12. Kerby Ross

    Kerby Ross KSU - Class of '83; U.S. Army - Infantry (83-92)

    :) ....

    Devins and Bad Tolz were definitely SF places. Yes we did the comic book thing ALL THE TIME and when we left we would bundle them up and sell them to the thrift store ..... I now wish I had all those comic books from the 60's and early 70's.

    When we went to Hitler's Eagles Nest in 1973, I jumped the fence at the old motor pool and found a piece of rubber with numbers on it and brought it home. My parents were extremely pissed at me.


  13. I checked the number of licensed taxidermist in my area and it listed 5 licensed taxidermist and my county. One of those is me, but I know of 4 close by that must be working under the table, plus that's not counting all the skull cleaning operations that pop up around deer season.
  14. Kerby Ross

    Kerby Ross KSU - Class of '83; U.S. Army - Infantry (83-92)

    Breakthrough .......

    I believe Breakthrough Magazine used to list the number of subscriptions ...... and I believe it was over 10,000?

    Kathy would know.

    Every year taxidermists retire, pass away and simply disappear because they don't can't make a living at it. But I would say there are more taxidermists than ever before. The opportunities to learn taxidermy are EASY today! ! ! ! !

    There are quite a few SUCCESSFUL taxidermists out there that charge appropriately. They get $600-900 a deer head ..... and THEY ARE BUSY doing those deer heads and hundreds of other mounts.

    A successful taxidermist IS NOT the person charging $350 a deer head and has 2 years of work back logged and is working over 40 hrs a week. Just saying .................


  15. furtanshop

    furtanshop New Member


    The figures I posted are out of the magazine. I think from the summer issue 2015. Once or twice a year they have show a statement of ownership

    The other figures I gave are the numbers for taxidermy and tanning permits. They are from the Department of Conservation

    I have often tried to get a handle on this business since 1971.

    I have been doing this for over 60 years and I am aware of the price ranges you mentioned . You get 60 miles out of a big city in the Ozarks and you will play hell getting the higher numbers in a volume that will sustain a full time business. I don't like it , but that is the way it is.

    Also the numbers of hunting permits have steadily declined in Missouri

    I do know two things the number of USA hunters is down in Africa and male hunters are down in Missouri , number of women hunting is up. No matter who is doing the taxidermy work the number of animals too mount is going down , with the research I have done so far. I plan on doing a whole lot more. I do not intend to post the complete market analysis here

    I am doing my best to look at factual numbers and not guess

    As you identify customer groups you must know what that groups reason is for purchase taxidermy or tanning
  16. Rick Carter

    Rick Carter Administrator

    There will always be a major influx of newbies. The taxidermy supply companies, trade magazines, conventions, websites, and Facebook have pretty successfully given away everything you need to know 1000 times already. Any information you can't get for free is obtained in hundreds of cheap "how to" videos. This means that anyone willing to read and practice can mount something good enough to satisfy the public. A monkey can get a license and open a taxidermy studio with virtually no qualifications whatsoever. The thing that is becoming obvious to me is the vast separation in quality between actual artists and people who are just messing around with the novelty of labeling themselves as a taxidermist. As there becomes more excellent work there also becomes more pitiful junk. I made the statement on taxidermy 101 on Facebook that you would never be a great taxidermist if you had no artistic ability and you would have thought I cursed the Pope. The wannabes were furious. I was left with the impression that they thought I somehow owed it to them to answer their questions. I always hear that I should "give back" to the industry. News flash; the "industry" never gave me anything but ulcers! I don't owe anyone anything. I gave away far too much already. People don't like any answer that doesn't instantly feed their egos and objectives. Not very many people are willing to spend the time that is required in learning anatomy. If you want a muscular anatomy model and skeleton, make your own just like I did. Don't get mad at me if I ask for $3500 to make another one for you. I can't pour the knowledge into your brain that you would gain if you started dissecting muscles and articulating skeletons for yourself. The quality gap will continue to widen as time goes on as the artists work makes the wannabes look worse than ever before at an exponential rate. The masters are already finding it more difficult to sell really valuable information when so much cheap advice is readily available. It leaves the public stranded in between those who are cheap because they rightfully have no confidence in their work and the true artists who are trying to be paid a fair amount for their efforts. Bill is right about more people trying a business when jobs are scarce. There has been a high rate of turnover in taxidermy since I started 35 years ago. I am sticking to my conviction that if you have no artistic abilities that you should totally avoid taxidermy as a profession.
  17. I have been doing this for over 60 years and I am aware of the price ranges you mentioned . You get 60 miles out of a big city in the Ozarks and you will play hell getting the higher numbers in a volume that will sustain a full time business. I don't like it , but that is the way

    [/quote]Are you located in Missouri? what is the name of your studio?
  18. Cory

    Cory Keep an eye on quality!

    There are zero licensed Taxidermists in KS. A license is only a way for a government body to make some $. For what it's worth; there's more Taxidermists around me now than there ever has been!
  19. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't do a deer shoulder mount if I got $900.00 for them. I find fish much more profitable.
  20. ANDY

    ANDY Well-Known Member

    As long as theres people doing it under the table or part time, there will be taxidermy. Around here the general public go for cheaper over
    quality. In my area theres only 2-3 full timers left, but dozens of the others. I saw a deerhead the other day that was mounted in Jan. 2017
    that looked like it had been hanging in a cabin for the last 40 years and you wouldn't believe how happy the guy was with it.