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Competition Fairness – Points to Ponder

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Joe Kish, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Well-Known Member

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    Competition Fairness – Points to Ponder

    1. Can supplier affiliated judges be completely unbiased?
    2. Should association officers and BODs be disqualified from competitions they manage?
    3. Is it fair to judge half-lifesize entries in game head categories?
    4. Should predator species be categorically separate from prey species in small mammal divisions?
    5. Have money prizes improved or corrupted participation in taxidermy competitions?
     
  2. Carolin Brak-Dolny

    Carolin Brak-Dolny Active Member

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    Hi Joe.

    In regards to your point#4. Can you elaborate? Would you divide them the way warm water vs cold water fish are? I think yes they are very different but so are cats and canines, bears and seals. Seals are both predator and prey. For that matter cats and canines can also be prey. If you divide the small mammals, you would then need to divide the large mammal division. If you study mammals, and really apply yourself, prey or predator should not be a problem to mount and compete against. The problem is that the judges have to be knowledgeable of a lot of mammals, which is hard to do so the next best thing is to have a judge that can really read reference.
     

  3. Cory

    Cory Keep an eye on quality!

    1. Can supplier affiliated judges be completely unbiased? Why not? Just like the boss who insinuates that when a person calls in sick they are not sick; is this because they themselves are doing the same thing? Sure they can be.
    2. Should association officers and BODs be disqualified from competitions they manage? What good would this do? Normally those most involved are better because of their involvement in associations, not because of the chair they hold.
    3. Is it fair to judge half-lifesize entries in game head categories? Why not, how do you judge this as a lifesize; what about the back half anatomy. While you are at it, why shouldn't birds and fish be entered in the lifesize category also? After all, the entire animal/specimen is displayed.
    4. Should predator species be categorically separate from prey species in small mammal divisions? This one has me boggled, as every specimen comes with its own challenges.
    5. Have money prizes improved or corrupted participation in taxidermy competitions? This all depends on how the prize monies are handled. I would lean towards improved.
     
  4. Cole

    Cole Amateur Taxidermist

    My questions are directed at Joe Kish, but anyone should feel free to respond.

    1) If supplier affiliated judges were not allowed to judge a competition, would there be enough judges to cover all of the industry's competitions?

    2) If officers and board members were not allowed to compete, could you find enough quality individuals willing to accept these positions?

    3) If everyone competes under the same set of rules, whether a 1/2 L/S is considered a GH or LS, does it really make a difference? If everyone is subject to the same rules, how could one gain an advantage?

    4) With so many people (like Joe Kish) claiming there are too many awards at current taxidermy competitions, should we consider splitting categories to create more best of categories?

    5) Could the lure of money ever persuade a dishonest person to cheat any more than the desire to stroke his/her own ego?

    6) (Since this question was left unanswered from the last thread) What makes the early competitions better than the competitions held today?
     
  5. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    Joe, I'm about to enter into this intriguing world of competition taxidermy, with judges and critiques. I have entered and placed well in public choice scenarios, so this is new to me. Please tell me how you would answer your own questions?
     
  6. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

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    1.yes

    2. No

    3. Yes

    4. No

    5. Money has zero effect

    Now on to the next ridiculous Kish thread that tries to tear down our industry but never works.
     
  7. Cory

    Cory Keep an eye on quality!

    3 Bears. You will find competitions meaningful and the cheapest education you can get. But alas, just as in life, if you choose to suck on sour lemons, you will get a bad taste in your mouth. Be open minded, make lifelong friends, and strive to take the taxidermy art to the next level and do the animal proud with what you present to your customers. And just like in life, there will be "bad apples" that can have a jaded view of what competitions are about; positive attitudes and willingness to learn will always supercede these "apples" as they will soon fall off of the tree never to be seen again.
     
  8. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Well-Known Member

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    There's some stimulating opinions here which I will respond to by and by. I'd prefer to wait until enough readers have weighed in, hopefully with persuasive and compelling arguments for and against. I have noticed however, that anytime taxidermy association dynamics are mentioned or even hinted at, the usual suspects are quick to take opinions as fact, make presumptions about content that isn't there, make cryptic remarks or change the subject matter of the post.

    Dynamics - the forces or properties that stimulate growth, development, or change within a system or process.

    Cryptic - having or seeming to have a hidden or ambiguous meaning : mysterious.
    marked by an often perplexing brevity.
     
  9. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    Whatever floats your boat Joe. I will be heading to the Iowa convention on Thursday and won't be on here till next week, so maybe, by that time you will have answered my question and I'm sure I'll have maybe just a little understanding of what you are attempting to do with posts such as this.
     
    rogerswildlife and Cole like this.
  10. Cole

    Cole Amateur Taxidermist

    I have noticed when "the usual suspects" attempt to have a conversation, or better yet, attempt to distinguish the point being made Joe Kish resorts to spurious depictions of the responses given. Perhaps instead of constantly equivocating, Joe should just tell us what his intent is.

    Spurious - not genuine, authentic, or true; not from the claimed, pretended, or proper source

    Equivocate - to use ambiguous or unclear expressions, usually to avoid commitment or in order to mislead.
     
    Bucknut and Kerby Ross like this.
  11. Cole

    Cole Amateur Taxidermist

    I'll see you in IA 3Bears. Make sure you say "Hi".
     
  12. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    I plan to Cole
     
  13. fishmaster

    fishmaster Well-Known Member

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    1. Most can, a few cannot. Should be allowed to have adequate depth in the potential judge pool but the word usually gets around about the one or two individuals who can't see past their own sculpture and look at the bigger picture. Probably the same people who who would cheat a checkers.
    2. No they should be allowed. Most of the people I've known over the years willing to work for a association by giving their time and efforts for free are pretty damn good people. Often they are some of the better taxidermists in the state. Every state is struggling with adequate participation, why make it worse because of the "fears" of uninformed competitors.
    3. Yes it is as long as the additional anatomy that is included is also judged. Again there is not enough depth in any competition to spread out the categories.
    4. No. I'll elaborate in my footnotes
    5. Money has zero effect. It doesn't amount to half of minimum wage if someone wins. It's often a nice bonus but nothing more than that.

    I have participated in taxidermy competitions since 1981 and entered scores of pieces over the years. My views on what would make a good competition have changed over the years. Our efforts to judge a critter against a scoresheet with arbitrary criteria that are supposed to define the nuts and bolts of anatomy have been a failure. The sheets used by the world show are the best we have, but still it ultimately falls back to the judges bias on what things they personally feel are the most important. (I do not use "bias" in a negative way). Some judges are more detail oriented using optivisors and flashlights to view details that cannot be discerned from a normal viewing distance. Other judges see and interpret that criteria differently. The shows where I have judged with another judge it becomes very apparant that we all view and see things in different ways.
    I personally would love to see shows go a competition format rather than trying to arbitrarily compare it to a live animal. One two three. The show has fish, shoulder mounts, life-size and bird categories to start out. Each of those categories are going to award a first , 2nd and 3rd by the end of the show. As pieces come into the show, if there are 5 or more "ducks" they get their own subcategory of "waterfowl". If there are 5 or more cold water fish, they get their own category and so on. As the show fills up, it begins look like a family tree as the different areas fill up.
    When it comes time to judge, there might be categories for whitetail, small mammals, freshwater fish, cold water fish, ducks and upland birds. The judge(s) pick the best, second best, and third best from each of these sub categories. Then the judges pick the #1,2,&3 from the sub categories. (all the fish entered would be thrown together to determine the #1,2,3 in the original FISH category. Those are the people who are up for the top awards.
    This is the same system that has been used in fish carving shows and it works quite well. It allows the show to stretch outward with good participation and shrink down if there is not adequate participation. That means in a slow show that a trout might be judged against a lmb, a bluegill, a catfish and so on. There is still going to be a 1st, 2nd , and third.
    You are competing against the other competitors, not against a scoresheet that defines supposedly how nature or god made it. Just like the Olympics. You don't have to match the world record time to get a Gold in the olympics. You just have to be faster than everyone else.
    The reason I have come full circle is because at the end of the day when you view the top three on the table, most people can see that THIS ONE Is better than THAT ONE and so on down the line.
    The biggest argument against this type of competition is that there will be pieces that will get a ribbon that wouldn't get one otherwise. BUT, those ribbons will always be in the sub-categories. The CORE divisions ( Birds, fish, etc) will always have pieces that are worthy.
    If you show up, and your piece is better than the others, you will win the blue.
    This cuts the judging time down to a few hours instead of all night and would allow the judges to be available to spend more time with individual critiques and information which would help the competitors who are really trying to use the event to learn more. Have the judge make a 30 minute talk with everyone present that is interested to explain his 1,2 3 placement and why he placed them the way he did. It would take the mystery, and gossip and innuendo out of the equation and eliminate a lot of hard feelings. People would walk away feeling like they learned something.
    I understand I'll take some heat on the above view. It is based on three decades of watching how competitions operate.
     
    Cory, amigo, artwildcreate and 4 others like this.
  14. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    I went to a show a couple years ago where you were competing against a score sheet and not other taxidermists. I didn't like it! I got a couple seconds but I know I did not earn this so the ribbon in my mind was worthless. If you entered you got at least a white whether you deserved it or not. I would have much rather got a participation ribbon over something that I did not deserve. What I did get from the show, which was much more important was an opportunity to talk with the judge and get some pointers on how to improve my work.
     
  15. TIMBUCK

    TIMBUCK Active Member

    1. Most I am sure can be unbiased but I am sure some aren't.. Its sadly the world we live in.. This is Totally integrity driven... Good cop, bad cop scenario.. Am I worried about it? I could care less. I no longer worry about things that I cannot control.. Life is to short..

    2. Absolutely not..

    3. As of now yes.. What are the other options.. Its not a LS.. There is no 1/2 LS category..

    4. No. I see no need for this.

    5. I very seriously doubt it has done either.. Its simply not that much money IMO..
     
  16. Harum

    Harum Active Member

    “Our efforts to judge a critter against a score sheet with arbitrary criteria that are supposed to define the nuts and bolts of anatomy have been a failure. The sheets used by the world show are the best we have, but still it ultimately falls back to the judge’s bias on what things they personally feel are the most important. (I do not use "bias" in a negative way). Some judges are more detail oriented using optivisors and flashlights to view details that cannot be discerned from a normal viewing distance. Other judges see and interpret that criteria differently. The shows where I have judged with another judge it becomes very apparent that we all view and see things in different ways.”

    Well said Don, including the answers to Joe, now please get out of my head ;)

    There was a post recently about how this guy that makes rubber dolls would blow people away in this field. From what I read it was due to the fact he was an Artist… I gave this assumption some thought and although this guy’s talent level appeared to be rather high I couldn’t help but think of the roadblocks he would experience competing in this field. You see, he would have his own personal perspective on what he would be attempting to duplicate and his perspective would run smack dab into the pre conceived ideals of a taxidermy mount (what we like to call standards). His piece may very well be incredible but, without the ability to see what he sees the process of observation will fall back onto these standards (I do use “standards” in a negative way). Throw in the fact that he could have the nicest piece in his category but, not be called the winner. He just might find this fact frustrating enough to not share is perspective of nature and simply go back to making rubber dolls.


    -Pete
     
  17. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

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    I'm gonna have to differ on a couple of points Don. In my opinion you just can't compare taxidermy comps to a race. They are apples and oranges. If you have to have a winner in every category at every show no matter what the quality of the piece is then your giving titles to mounts for just showing up. I understand this will be debated forever as it was in conversations when I started in '86.
    Judging a mount by a critique sheet emphasizing anatomical accuracy is one of the best things thats ever happened to our industry. Without the score-critique sheet how is a taxi supposed to know how to improve their work. Talented men like you have given thousands of critiques than have improved taxidermy beyond what anyone thought could be achieved.
    One more point on requiring a winner, I've seen this happen more than once, I'll even say many times. When a mount is scored considerably higher than it deserves the taxi goes home with a false sense of security that he has now figured it out. The next year he brings the same quality mount and scores much lower. They have wasted a whole year and didn't improve because the first mount was gifted a blue, and many of them quit at this point.
    With your scenario there would inevitably be the occasional first place winners that wouldn't have blued by the old score sheet criteria. This is a disservice to the taxi. If every show has to have winners in all divisions then you might as well just make them all peoples choice shows. Then you've lost the original reason for competitions to begin with and that is EDUCATION!
    It is an art but taxidermy comps are not just an art show, they should be a teaching tool about technique and anatomy in a competitive setting.
    Just my thoughts
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  18. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Well-Known Member

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    3bears,
    Since you're leaving tomorrow for Iowa, I'll give you a quick response in answer to you my original points to ponder without elucidating for now. I doubt that you will find any surprises or miss anything of importance while you're gone.

    Point 1. - no.
    Point 2. - yes.
    Point 3. - Conditionally
    Point 4. - Not every foot fits one shoe. We need more shoes.
    Point 5. - Corrupt sounds too pejorative to contrast with improve. Un-improve didn't work for me either. Rather, money introduces an incentive which is corruptive in most fields from sports to art and beyond.

    Enjoy the show in the home state of some very distinguished taxidermists - Mike Frazier, Joe Meder, Dennis Behn, Chuck Meacham..... etc.

    Perhaps you could give us all a report on numbers, special guests, any new trends, everything newsworthy. Association magazines never seem to publish this kind of news in their "news letter-magazines."
     
  19. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

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    Why don't you start your own magazine Joe , then you could publish whatever you'd like. Oh but wait then you wouldn't have anything to cut down and try to destroy so we know that wouldn't work for you.
     
    Gary R and rogerswildlife like this.
  20. Harum

    Harum Active Member

    Some good points Jerry and I like you positive take on things. Maybe you can clear one point up for me though. You speak of this sheet that emphasizes anatomical accuracy. I haven’t seen that sheet. When it comes to fish what I have seen was a sheet focusing the judging criteria towards seam work, fin unions, casting craftsmanship, skin application, epoxy work, paint application, eye set, etc. You know, taxidermy craftsmanship related items. Present something you see in the actual fish that doesn’t fall in line with this criteria and the judging will fall back on the standards seen before. Regardless of the detail accuracy or inaccuracy the default system of standards will see it as wrong.

    Why do we keep looking at it as a taxidermy mount? Can this type of thing be fixed? Maybe but, we need to be open to the possibilities that nature provides and less set in our ways. Most of us have a mental picture of what a particular animal looks like. The problem is this mental picture often gets in the way of the actual likeness. We preach reference and should but, a person also needs to get past this mental image to see what is actually in the reference.

    On another note, I have learned a few useful things when competing but, I don’t go to a show to learn. I go to best my competitors. It is a competition after all. ;) Also, personally I wouldn’t want a win if I didn’t score a high enough mark. I prefer to earn my place.


    -Pete
     
    Cory likes this.