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Please train me. I will do anything.

Discussion in 'Training' started by AdamWDavis, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. AdamWDavis

    AdamWDavis New Member

    Hey everyone, Please let me tell you a little about me. I am in my thirties. I have been married to the love of my life for 13 years. I have 4 beautiful living children. And lastly I want to support my family by being a taxidermist. I am not a slouch. I do any kind of work available to support my family, but taxidermy is my long term career goal until I retire. I have known for 2 years that taxidermy is what I want my career to be, but finding funding for school or finding an apprenticeship has been daunting and disappointing. I have even moved my family with my hopes raised only to have school funding companies tell me they don't cover taxidermy in their policies after all. I have called many companies to see if they will train me. Everywhere I turn there is a slammed door. However, I do understand many taxidermists lack the time and resources to train someone with no experience. Is there someone out there who will apprentice me? I will work hard. I will dedicate myself. I understand if you can't pay me. I look at the education and training as payment in itself, as long as you can work around a job schedule. This is my last resort. I have also considered teaching myself through training videos, and other resources, but I am worried about teaching myself wrong.
    I am a non-smoker, non-drinker, religious (LDS-Christian), family man) who knows this will be a great career choice for me if I can just get into the field. I live in Idaho, so western states work best, but I might be willing to go other places if the right opportunity comes up. If you can't take me, but you can offer advice I will take that too.
    My wife's email you can contact us at in [email protected]
    Thank you and God bless,
  2. Might help to join your state association ,might open up an opportunity.

  3. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    X2 You need to walk before you run. You have a family to support, keep that a top priority. I know you will not believe me, but I'm here to tell you that taxidermy is a very difficult way to support a family. I don't need taxidermy income. I have a wonderful retirement, yet, my youngest son and I have a helluva business. However, there are times when cash flow is negative...seriously. There are points in the year when insurance premiums, taxes, and supplies all co-mingle into monstrous expenses. Our income is totally dependent on the desire of others to pay for their mounts. "Taxidermy is a luxury, not a necessity" (George Roof, direct quote). Once school is out, kids have baseball, there are family vacations, county fairs, scout camps, revivals...heck, any excuse someone can think of to put you off. My advice is to learn taxidermy slowly, get good at the phases that interest you the most, and then embark on making money at it.
  4. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Adam, you sound like a reasonable and responsible young man. If I'm correct, I beg you to think this over seriously. You need to find a stable job and perhaps do taxidermy as a hobby first. Let me explain.

    I've been a taxidermist for just about 60 years. In that time I've met hundreds of taxidermists and I know of not one single one that makes a decent living doing taxidermy ALONE. I have to caveat that with saying that I do know of several who come close, but most have invested from previous vocations and have a buffer to make it happen. A guy starting with nothing is going to remain that way for some time.

    There's a simple reason: with very few exceptions, beginners don't provide the product that time tested individuals do. The techniques may be simply but mastering them into recreations that look live takes time and talent. Secondly, you can only to "X" amount of work in a day. Since you're not going to be able to charge $1000 for a deer right out of the gate, whatever you make -MINUS materials and utilities is going to knock $250+ off of any profits. A good taxidermist is going to be able to mount perhaps 2 deer a day, but clients bringing in work, picking up work, or doctor's visits, of taking the kids to school leave you with diminishing returns. In this business, because YOU finish the work doesn't mean you'll get a payday instantly. Sob stories abound with clients and you'll have to just hope. Getting a good deposit may cover the incidentals involved, but you still need front money to keep your business going. I have seen dozens of taxidermists staying in business because they spent the deposit money and need to clear new work so they can afford more supplies. We're an industry where a nickel propping up a dime is far too common. Only a few shops survive 5 years and there's a dark side few want to discuss. The pressures of this job are matched with a surprisingly high suicide rate for the slim numbers we have in our industry.

    Do yourself and your family a favor. If you don't already have a job with some benefits, get an entry level job where you can be sure your family is cared for. If they have benefits, the more the better. At least you'll have a job with a secure paycheck each month. Then join your local association. Get to be friends with them. Seek out apprenticeship in a shop, work for free in your spare time, but most of all, become familiar with all the aspects of taxidermy. Build your reputation and then see if you still have those same desires.

    BTW, if you hunt and fish, be prepared to quit. You need to be in the shop when others are hunting and fishing.
    aewalsh likes this.
  5. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Just some stuff to think about.

    My suggestion is to forget taxidermy training and get BUSINESS training. After you become proficient at business, then get taxidermy training. You will be leaps and bounds better off going this route rather than the other way around.

    I agree with everyone here. One thing that I struggled with was, when I cut a custom piece of glass or mirror for a customer at the glass shop I work at, if I screw it up, I toss it and start over. If I screw up the trophy of a lifetime on someones animal they spent thousands of dollars on, you can't easily replace it. Handing someone their table top they smile and say thanks never knowing it took two tries. Calling a customer to tell them that the tannery lost their giraffe or their musk ox is slipping real bad and you get a different response. I never had anything happen that couldn't be fixed, however, the stress of what could happen was always there.

    Another thing is, when my buddies were out hunting, I was skinning deer and elk heads and getting things done to make deadlines. Hunting trips while working a one man shop was few and far between.

    Also, when a fun thing to do that you have passion for turns into an actual job, it becomes less fun and more like work, which is not a bad thing when your passion is also your means of income.

    I enjoyed being a taxidermist and it got us through a really bad time financially, however, it was always my second job
    aewalsh likes this.
  6. Great post George, and also many successful taxidermist have a successful women behind them ,working a full time job with benefits so they can do taxidermy full time.
  7. tazzymoto

    tazzymoto Well-Known Member

    Taxidermy is a hard way to earn a living, keep as a hobby, you will enjoy it much more
  8. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    Yep! I thought at one time I wanted to do taxidermy for a living. At this point in my life I am glad I chose another path. I am just a hobbyist. Plenty of people have asked me to mount their critters but I turn them all down.

    Don't give up on your dream to do taxidermy. Buy a couple DVD's and try do it for yourself for now. See if it really is what you want to do. You may find out that it is more work than you think. Best of luck to you whatever you choose.

  9. grumpa

    grumpa Active Member

    What everybody else said, especially George. There is NO WAY to support 4 kids and a wife and be an apprentice or startup taxidermist. Find another LUCRATIVE interest and get a job with BENEFITS, PAID VACATION and A RETIREMENT PLAN. Hunt and fish when you want, live the good life and let somebody else do your taxidermy while you hunt, fish, enjoy your family, do good deeds, etc. Take it from an old lifetime fulltime taxidermist. This is a hard life and you only get one chance at it. Enjoy it Don't be a slave to hundreds of bosses that think that they are your only customer.
  10. Tony Corleone

    Tony Corleone New Member

    Adam, run like Hell as far away from taxidermy as you can! No $$$. No benefits. Disrespect. No customer loyalty. Cheap. Deadbeats who won't pay. Growing government intrusion and regulations. Hunting regulations. Terrible public image. It takes many years and tremendous talent to rise above the norm. Unless you have some other significant income your wife kids are going to learn to hate not having the money to do jack.
  11. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    Tony, Pisan, ben detto !
    All here have given you the BEST of advise acquired through pain and suffering in taxidermy , Grumpa, George , JoeyM and all the rest. Do you realize that when the minimum wage goes to 15.00 per hour with bennies all these small shops will be loosing even more money than if they were flipping burgers at MC's . You don't want to be a "lifer" in this business.
    Who has the Midas touch in business in the USA , the Jews . How many Jews in taxidermy ? How many new residents to America are cashing in on the taxidermy industry ? The Hindo's from India own all the corner stores or their doctors , the gas stations are all owned by the Pakistani's or Moslems , all the central American and Mexicans are all into landscaping , tree trimming , recycling (Junk) along with a few corner stores and hole in the wall restaurants. The Brazilians around here are all in the construction business, building, painting , masonary. The Ethiopians all drive cabs and limos . None of these oppressed groups cashing in on taxidermy !! The only people getting into taxidermy are dumb white boys ,I know I was one . Waited too late to get out ended up a lifer. You have to get out by 40 years of age or your too old to be hired by a real company , age discrimination .
    What no one mentioned was 95% of our potential customers are the cheapest of the cheap. They don't know good from bad , and their wife don't want "that stuff in her house" , your doomed before you get off the ground .
    Also you can forget hunting as that is your busiest season . You also have to alienate (get rid of) your friends and relatives that hunt as they will never be happy even if you do the work for free
    And you must remember you will never make a living wage for your family because you "can't get that price in your area".
    All this is geographic related , but in this area you have to pay 525.00 for a bad deer head. Bad work STILL has a manufacturing cost !
  12. juli

    juli Active Member

    Some of what everyone here says, I agree with...

    IF - your wife is not willing to be the breadwinner for the next 8 to 10 yrs
    IF - you are not willing to work your proverbial 'arse' off
    IF - you want to hunt/fish/trap
    IF - you cannot suck up and apologize when you make a mistake with a customer mount, or you can't deal with the stress of people wanting their stuff done in 5 months when you told them up front it will be a year, or getting phone calls at all hours of the day, or the occasional asshole customer who believes you've stolen his bear hide - until he pulls out the phone and compares the photos on his phone to the mount you just did for him, then acts as if it was no big deal that he just basically accused you of stealing something you have absolutely ZERO use for (because he heard taxidermists do that all the time, you know)....
    IF - you are not a REALLY GOOD problem solver

    Do not attempt to be a taxidermist.

    IF - you are willing to spend 5-10 yrs working for another taxidermist doing the shit jobs and being low man on the totem pole
    and after that:
    IF - you are willing to be and can financially absorb being 'in the red' for a couple of years after you open your own shop ( maybe more depending on if you have a storefront/lease or not....)
    IF - you have a good work ethic and can work alone (it can be quiet if you are the only one in the shop)
    IF - you have decent taxidermy skills and abilities
    IF - you have business sense

    then hell yeah - go for it... We only live once!

    Unlike many who have responded here.... I do think it is possible to be a taxidermist and make a living doing it - but you have to have a long term goal in mind to have at least 2, maybe 3 employees.. up until then, you will be making money, but not very much (not enough to support a family of your size).... I think taxidermy prices are more in line with being able to actually earn a living in some of the western states and Alaska....than in some other parts of the country - I have seen the prices they get in the southern states... crap, might as well work at mcdonalds!!!!... (no you aren't going to get rich doing it! Most likely!)
  13. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    X2 everything mentioned here. 65 years in the business full/part time own my home...my truck..own a nice fishing boat...but had to work other jobs to pay for everything. Have 3 sons, one a boat captain, one a special needs person and one making good money on the West coast. His website www.killerpaint.com. Now I invented a deet-free insect repellent 14 years ago and it's really taken off and sold across the country by Tractor Supply Co. I now only do select taxidermy jobs and recommend another good taxidermist for the work I don't want to do. If you decide to get into this do it part time until you retire with a pension and benefits. The advice given you here is too valuable not to listen to it. Good luck, you sound like hard working family man.. JL
  14. jake7719

    jake7719 Well-Known Member

    Start small and specialize. Learn in steeps and the fundamentals and basics like tanning and fleshing. Start with WT deer and resurch on the internet and buy some dvds and look at all the free reference pics and how to vids. Trap some nice pelts this winter and skin and put up to sell or trade for knowledge.
  15. hounddoggy

    hounddoggy Member

    I did the taxidermy thing and I loved it. I don't have a mortgage and my kids college is paid for. "Government Intrussion"
    Can't be over stated. I had horrible experiences with the local wardens. States are hard up for money and raising money for the state IS THE ONLY thing wardens do. One will knock on your door at 1:00pm or 9:00pm while warden number two watches over the fence in your back yard to see if you try to run to your shop out back. They WILL show up on turkey day. They will try to convence you that they are your best friend while doing anything they can to try to find some way to fine you For something g-anything.
    I got work from a processor. 60-80 heads per year. Being in an area where the going rate is 375 for a shoulder mount, I would get 12-15 grand per year. I only did deer so I only worked sept-march.
    Now I have peace. No disrespectful unannounced warden visits, no drunks showing up to check on their deer or just to look at a rack of a deer that a buddy had brought. I could go on and on.

    Here is the best advice I can give you as I can tell you really want it.
    Hunt and use your kills for learning. Read this site. Ask questions and learn. Do it as a hobby and over time friends will want you to do work for them. Time your learning curve so that once the kids are grown you can do more and by then you will be able to put out great work.

    If you are hell bent on jumping right in then I advise you to learn the dry preservative method and make sure your profit margin is good.
    I love doing deer. I reall do but it's honestly not worth it when you factor in everything. I do backskins and a few deer heads each year enough to scratch that itch.
    Best of luck regardless of what path you choose!
  16. socalmountainman

    socalmountainman Northwestern School of Taxidermy - Class of '73

    My new GF is Jewish and I'm Hispanic, does that count? I've been in taxidermy for over 40 yrs and it has always been just a garage hobby. I was smart to have listened to my Mexican father and stayed in school. Boy was he right! I saw my parents struggle, Dad at least learned to run a backhoe when certifications were not required and always made decent wages to support us 5 kids. I could never make enough money in taxidermy to sustain myself so I kept a full-time job. My GI bill got me a 4 yr in Biology and became an entomologist for the State. Not rich but a monthly check that was always consistant and loved the 4 day work week and bennies. Just retired in September and I am enjoying taxidermy even more and my pension is kinda nice. I go hunting and fishing when ever I want and still crank out just a few deer heads. I am so glad I listened to my folks! PS - I have found out that the reason why Jews are so successful is because they have had to overcome and will never be where they were if you know what I mean... they're just rebuilding their population. But you don't have to be Jewish to do that. Anyone with the will can be successful!
  17. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    What a nice post.
  18. Most here have given you the best advise possible, start small, practice a lot & most of ALL : get a decent job ( you & the wife ) in order to be able to raise a family .

    Yes one can make a living at Taxidermy, but IT IS NOT a very good way to raise a family, let alone just for yourself . The answers are ALL here on this site, so READ them Over & Over before you make any major changes & moves !

    I am self employed & FULL time & have been for over almost 40 years but it Has been Tough indeed & I would NOT recommend it to anyone for a Full time occupation to raise a family with even ONE child on ! Yes, it IS possible but ? a lot of BUTTS ..........................

    If you want some training CALL me & I will see what I can do for you..................perhaps at NO cost to you, but PLEASE don't screw up your family or a Job in the process ! I operate a very private Taxidermy School here in Northern New York State on the Canadain boarder. Go to ( www.larrystaxidermy.com ) it is also Northeast School of Taxidermy .

    Good Luck & remember, the Family Has to come first..............How I ever raised my two children on Taxidermy I tell ya, I oftin wonder ,, but we made it ......BUT : again, my marriage of 29 years ended also I believe partly due to Taxidermy full time as I spent WAY to many hours in the shop ! oftin 6 & 7 days a week. I DID make time to hunt & fish but the stress of dealing with clients ( as many tell here ) about Killed me in STRESS !

    I am slowing down quite a bit & doing well today but it is BEST to NOT do it to raise a family !

    Would I attempt to do it again, NO ............I'd get a steady job with a retirement 1 st. & do taxidermy part time, then you still have to deal with Controlling the volume & gettting the work out & dealing with the CRAZY clients ! Good luck my fella ! God Bless !