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Competition Fairness – Points to Ponder

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

  1. Carolin Brak-Dolny

    Carolin Brak-Dolny Active Member

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    After thinking about Joe's point about separating predators and prey in the mammal category; Why in the past where fish separated ? between warm water and cold water? or salmonoids? Special category for Bass? Why where birds separated? between waterfowl and upland? now turkeys? If you follow that pattern mammals should be separated. Maybe???? African vs NorthAmerican. A special category for just cats? Or Rodents? or Canines? Or like Joe said predator and prey?
     
    artwildcreate likes this.
  2. Kerby Ross

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

    Large shows (World/NTA/PA, etc) have separated the fish and bird categories into numerous categories, but most state shows just have a bird category and just have a fish category and then a reproduction category. I wish they would just make the reptile category for reptiles/amphibians instead of putting in everything else in with that category. I have seen people win the State Champion Reptile award with a crawdad. :(

    Kerby...
     

  3. fishmaster

    fishmaster Well-Known Member

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    Jerry,
    I think an observant person can learn plenty by competing even if there was no scoresheet involved. Simply by comparing your work to the work next to it and having discussions with your peers and seeing how other interpret the details they attempt to render can be a considerable education to those who are driven.
    Every taxidermy show, state, national and world, has days packed of seminars in an effort to to teach people to improve their craft. Anyone who has ever attended a show knows that the real learning takes place in the bars, restaurants and hotel rooms where groups of like minded individuals gather to do "shop talk". I have learned way more there than I ever did from a score sheet or sitting thru a seminar.

    As Pete has stated, even the best scoresheets do a poor job of adequately defining what is needed to make a perfect mount. These scoresheets have forced the issue that a mount has to be perfect in order to be competitive. You are required to have a perfect cape, bird or fish skin to ever hope to have a chance even though in nature there is no bird or animal walking, flying or swimming around that perfect. I think we have done a dis-service over the years by trying to equate a blue ribbon mount to criteria on a piece of paper. We tried to assign the points to the criteria and make all the points add up to determine the final score. (This was an absolute disaster for the competitor and the judge) At the larger shows were multiple judges look at each piece, we have them judge individually and then average the scores in an effort to smooth out the individual bias rather than allowing the judges to talk and discuss the pros and cons of each piece and arriving at a consensus. Again, I don't use Bias as a bad thing. Every judge looks at and interprets details in different ways. Details that look good microscopically (with optivisors) and with a harsh LED flashlight illuminating it don't necessarily look good under normal lighting and from normal viewing distance.

    The "grandfather" of fish carving has a style of painting and execution that caused lots of discussion every time I was involved as a judge. Bob Berry could capture the essence of a particular specie of fish and in the composition of the piece and almost always tell a story that defined the essence of the species. He did this thru research of the individual specie and a palate of colors, shapes and textures presented in a way that gave some glimpse of the little piece of the world that the fish lived in. Bob's detailing of individual scales and details was sometimes harsh and not refined. His colors were often very bold and crudely applied (and you didn't need an optivisor) but every time, when you saw his piece from the other side of the room you found yourself walking towards it. The profile of the fish and the composition in which it was portrayed and the colors made you want to get closer. Sometimes when you got too close it lost it's appeal but take a step back and Wow! It was a nightmare to be a judge when trying to juggle a very tight and precise fish by Jeff Compton next to a piece by Bob. Both pieces looked great but from completely different viewing distances.
    The last paragraph doesn't really equate to the problems of a taxidermy competition other than an example that there is a bigger picture involved than the placement of every individual hair or feather. You can render details perfectly and still not capture the essence of an animal.

    In the last paragraph of Pete's post he states his purpose to attend a competition is to "Best" his competitors. I agree completely with this philosophy and would add that if I can learn something in the process (and I always do) that it's a bonus. It is thru the act of trying that we learn and improve. We cannot learn and improve faster than our ability to interpret and absorb new information. It is a process that is only achieved by a small amount of natural ability and a hell of a lot of effort and time.
    Ultimately we only learn thru "doing".

    In the end, I feel like a competition should be just that, a competition of peers. An effort to determine the best. An opportunity for the competitor to see if his "best" is better than everyone else's. If a category was only going to receive One 1st, one 2nd and one 3rd place ribbon think how much faster the judging operation would go. When a judge or judges, thru process of elimination start making choices on, this is better than that, and so on, the cream of the crop can quickly be established. When the top five are determined, then a thorough and animated discussion of the placement of the top three ribbons could take place. The best three pieces will be determined, and they will be chosen based on a melding of opinions of what's important, bias's about details, and criteria that are based on the decades of experience's of the judges. Then, since a judge has spent three hours judging instead of thirteen, the other ten hours can be applied by detailed critiques and other information shared so that every person attending understands why the judges made the choices they did instead of leaving pissed off and angry because their printed score sheet didn't define every aspect and problem.
     
  4. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    here's a thought for everyone who hates other taxidermists judge their work. have actual animal experts judge taxidermy. a curator of mammals, a curator of birds etc. zoo experts who actually have degrees in the specific species they work with. they would be unbiased and actually give their professional opinion on the life-likeness of whatever you entered.
     
  5. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    Fishmaster, can you not still "Best your competitor", by scoring higher than them?
    We all know egos can be a very fragile thing. As I posted earlier, I will be entering the competition arena this weekend for the first time but, I have followed the multitude of posts regarding competitions and judging over the years and from what I have gathered, is that the present scoring system has evolved to help reduce the fracturing of as many egos as possible, to bolster the amount of involvement in competitions. The more folks that actually attend and compete, I would think would have a better impact on advancing the industry and the sharing of info. I also get the impression that the way you and Harum are talking about would cause more of the "Closed door" policy, that has been mentioned many times over the years on here, I am not saying it is necessarily wrong but at this time, I see it as detrimental. You mentioned that the best place to learn is talking shop with other taxidermists, I partially agree with that. The reason I say partially, is that folks that are more outgoing will gain more knowledge than the those that aren't, just by engaging in conversations.
     
    Jerry Huffaker likes this.
  6. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

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    I do agree with a lot of your points Don, I just don't believe the score-critique sheets are a complete failure. From my personal experience they have helped me improve leaps and bounds in my knowledge of anatomy and competing. I've benefited greatly from seminars over the years as well, I can say I've learned something from every seminar I've attended.
    I believe the system we have has worked, it's certainly not perfect and can always be tweaked but to say its a failure is just not true.
     
  7. fishmaster

    fishmaster Well-Known Member

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    Jerry, maybe failure was a little strong. The present score sheet developed by Larry Blomquist is a vast improvement over what we had before. The Point system that was prior to that was not just a failure but a disaster especially if you were a judge trying to make sense out of it. I have seen both systems work side by side under the same roof at the world show and I much prefer the simpler method even though it took me a few years to warm up to it.
    Three bears, what I suggest as a change in the system of judging is not going to happen so it's wishful thinking on my part. There is too much time invested in the current system for the big shows to change.
    Outgoing folks will certainly have a leg up if they take time to make new friends at the shows and go out of their way to be friendly. I can remember being a "fly on the wall" when I was shy and just starting competitions in hotel rooms or bars with Gary Zehner, Joe Kish, Bob Berry, Greg Septon, Frank Newmyer and the other "greats" of the time. I couldn't believe they allowed myself and other buddies to hang out. But hang out I did, often til three or four in the morning and I learned a lot by keeping my mouth shut and my ears open.
    If you are going to be at the Iowa show, say Hi as I will be there too.
     
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  8. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Well-Known Member

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    For those who inquired, the purpose of my post was to stimulate discussion here on the Taxidermy Industry category. Other than PA’s post (…Rise and Fall of the Taxidermy.net – 2,438 views) and Rick Carter’s (Artistry – 13,150 views), a majority of threads were not particularly engaging with low views and scarce to zero responses. The other ten forums have lots of interesting questions and answers. Therefore I chose to post here with competition related topics, hopefully to liven discussion because competitions are the one subject of greatest enduring interest to a wide range of viewers and responders both. I admit I’m surprised and a little disappointed that my post hasn’t had nearly as many views or responces as I expected, given that competitions are the mainstay of annual association activities. Nevertheless, I’m gratified that most responders offered some good suggestions worth considering toward improving fairness in competitions with only a couple taking this opportunity to vent their spleens because…. They can, I suppose. So, before anyone goes apoplectic, here is my opinion in answer to my own questions.

    1. Can supplier affiliated judges be completely unbiased? Not completely. Having judged dozens of competitions in the earlier years of competitions in the US, Canada and abroad, I encountered many of my original mannikins under the skins of many good, and not so good entries. It was tough for me to be completely unbiased, because I couldn’t fault the anatomy on entries, anatomy being the major part of scoring criteria. All my forms back then were done strictly for commercial purposes, consequently some were not always the caliber of my museum work. Every supplier affiliated judge faces the same dilemma. With the exception of a few judges like Jean Roll and Mike Orthober, (to name just two with impeccable integrity,) any judge with a background commercial interest in the outcomes of competitions do not instill total confidence in all competitors who’s mounts score less than first place.

    2. Should association officers and BODs be disqualified from competitions they manage? Yes. How fair is it to compete against those who invent the categories, write the rules, administer the rules, choose and hire the judges, set the amounts of prize money, monitor the competition room and keep score? What can be fair and above board in allowing such entrants in a competition which they completely control? (Notwithstanding that many happen to do award winning work.) It’s not like depriving them of competition opportunities in neighboring states, the WTC and the NTA. If I can see a conflict, so can they. Anecdotal stories abound of board members roaming freely throughout competition rooms before judging is even complete, when they themselves have entries in the competition. Furthermore, men of character might be expected to step out of competitions they control at least once in a while and allow some equally skilled general members a fairer chance at some of the top trophies and prize money too. Disagree with me all you want, but you won’t see Larry Bloomquist entering the WTC nor did I enter the TR competitions either.

    3. Is it fair to judge half-lifesize entries in game head categories? Conditionally. Provided that the legs are judged as well and points deducted from the overall score for any flaws in the legs and partial torso. It would be fairer to put them in a separate category.

    4. Should predator species be categorically separate from prey species in small mammal divisions? My thinking here was that predators often entail finely detailed mouth work than say, squirrels, rabbits, and most prey species. On the other hand, squirrels, etc., present greater problems on ears and shrinkage in toes than on predators. The different challenges would be better addressed if they were in different categories. Offhand, I can’t think of when a pair of squirrels ever won over a pair of fighting coyotes to win best of category. The larger small mammals like predators simply appear more dynamic just from size alone. As for reclassifying categories, I favor letting competitors sort that out. One major problem to making changes is that those who manage competitions (club officers and directors) rarely pay attention to input from general members. Categories and rules have been static so long that it’s nearly impossible to convince anyone that an overall reorganization of categories and awards would improve fairness. BODs and competition managers (committeemen) have known only one way and often prefer to maintain the status quo – the way it’s always been done. Kind of like the lingering attitude of “Why fix a thing if it ain’t broke?”

    5. Have money prizes improved or corrupted participation in taxidermy competitions? As I said earlier, corrupt is not the appropriate word, but after reading some of the responses here, I still have an open mind. Some say the amounts of prize money isn’t that high. And those who consistently place in the money year after year say it hasn’t corrupted the game at all. But I have noticed that a number of individuals who win top money prizes year after year also happen to be in positions to covertly influence outcomes. Money corrupted baseball and boxing, like throwing a game or taking a dive. Art forgery is practically an industry in itself. Then there’s US Congress men and women. Taking bribes from lobbyists is a way of life tor the vast majority. (Ron Paul was a notable exception. Yea for Texas!) Human nature is what it is and taxidermists of all stripes are human. But I digress. As I have written repeatedly, recognition is the strongest craving of the human soul. If that’s true then the craving for money has got to be number two.
     
  9. fishmaster

    fishmaster Well-Known Member

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    Museum man,
    That approach has been tried in the past and failed miserably. Wildlife biologists make horrible taxidermy or art show judges.
     
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  10. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    i was thinking more of a zoologist, not a standard wildlife biologist. those curators have more of a hands on day to day relationship , up close with animals. to the best of my knowledge there has never been an actual zoologist used as a judge.
     
  11. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

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    I agree about the world show, it’s about winning I like the format and the score sheets.
    I can’t help but think Don that if you went to just 1, 2,3 in every division at the state level you would kill the shows. The state shows are a ladder climbing process for most taxis. They start at low to mid level scores , as I did, then gradually work your way up through the ranks by using your critiques and score sheets to improve your work for the next show. Whether we like it or not, people like to take something home for their effort. That doesn’t mean everyone gets a trophy, if their piece takes a third ribbon then they have a goal of red the next year and so on. The competition shouldn’t be just about the few elites at the top because they are the minority of the attendees. The ribbons are a powerful incentive for the mid level skill set to go home work harder to move up the next year.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
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  12. TIMBUCK

    TIMBUCK Active Member

    Joe you have some very valid points in a lot of what you say as you always do.. Taxidermy Competitions are what they are, what they have been before my time and what they will be when we are gone....... Anyone that has competed for any length of time, in any state, or at any level, realizes that a lot of what you say is true, if they are being honest with there self. It is what it is.. In the big scheme of things, at the end of the day, none of it really matters though...... No one is getting rich, no one is leaving having experienced a forever life changing event. We leave a small group of our friends and peers and head back to the real world where most wont understand and most all could care less...

    At best we leave there with a ribbon we have "EARNED"(I would never want a ribbon gifted. Why? Who would?), new friendships, a good memory and a gained knowledge that we can use to better our work, and a desire to be a better taxidermist or teacher..

    Every taxidermist that I have had a discussion with about competitions and conventions go for their own personal reasons. Some go to learn, some go to seriously compete, some go to network and some go for all of the above.. I personally compete to learn as much as possible from the judge critiquing my piece, to network and trade knowledge with other taxidermists and to hang out with friends that have a common interest... Its a fun time.. The day it isn't fun anymore is the day I'll stop and never give it a second thought..

    I said all of that to say that life is to short to be getting so worked up about all of this small stuff.. As with anything in life, don't sweat the small stuff.... You should just relax and enjoy your life.. Worry about the things you can control and let the rest go.. Doing so can be a real game changer.. It was for me..
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
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  13. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

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    I couldn’t agree more Tim, we are all fierce competitors but it’s about fun and learning for me as well. The conventions have always been a mentor for me and many others because it’s all we had. As far as life priorities goes it’s not even on the list. The true value is the friendships and knowledge you accumulate over the years of attending. Joe doesn’t understand that, his idea of stimulating conversation is by insulting with condescending hidden personal attacks trying to make people mad. It’s funny that he thinks we’re so dumb we don’t see it with the silly little philosophical quotes and such. The way the conventions have evolved has been good for taxidermy like nothing else in its history and having a mature adult discussion like don and Pete are offering are good for our industry.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
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  14. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    Well guys and gals, I survived my first competition and I can say I do at least partially understand the differing views on the subject.
    First off Joe, I understand the reason for your post. I think it is a good topic for discussion to open up and have as well. I also somewhat understand your views as well. I'll attempt to stay on track and answer those questions you posed.

    1, Supplier affiliated judges- I think it is almost unrealistic for us to expect a judge, that is affiliated with a supplier in a business manner, to be completely unbiased in any way, shape or form. Their liveliness may just depend on the success of said supplier, but it is reasonable to expect them to keep it in check and give the best piece the best score. We all should know that the materials used for a mount, are just the building blocks, it is up to the craftsman/artist to put them together in the most realistic presentation as possible.

    2, Association board members competing- I feel that they should not be excluded from competing completely, maybe they should exclude themselves from the comp. room during judging, or even contact with the judges during that time frame. This is the first comp I've been to. I'm guessing the criteria for judging is pretty much similar for most state shows, correct me if I'm wrong but, once you've been to one show you have an idea of what to shoot for on the next, no different than anyone else.
    If you are going to exclude them from competing on their home turf, you will likely have less people willing to take on the job as a board member.

    3, Half life size- I think I may agree with you on this one but, I do want to point out that having the extra stuff to be judged can also hurt a competitor, as there are more areas for failure.

    4, Predator vrs prey mounts- Maybe size would be a better way to separate them. Everything that isn't at the top of the food chain, in their ecosystem, is a prey species at some point and time.
    Many don't or won't do an open mouth small mammal for competition but it could be done. Again, in doing an open mouth mount, it opens one up for more shortcomings.
    I believe, they already have different categories for open and closed mouth mounts.

    5, Money- I don't think prize money has as big of an influence as you say, it really isn't that much, in the scheme of things. I think egos are way more important to people than money, in this arena, if you will. Sure, I can say that from what I see, it would be nice to get back at least a little money for the amount of hours one has in their comp piece, but I don't think that is any motivation for them to keep competing.

    These are just my observations form my first experience into this dynamic world of taxidermy convention/competition, take it for what you will.

    Don, sorry I didn't see your post about being at the show till now and I didn't even recognize who you were till you were given your award in the Master of Masters division.
    I also do somewhat understand your point of view as well, once you have reached a certain level of winning scoring against, a judges idea, of what things should be, then you would like to compete directly against your peers.
    I like how that is played out in the Master of Master's division, maybe some day I'll get there, who knows. Do many states have a similar division?
    Thank you for the tip on replicating crappie fin spots you offered up in Cole's seminar.
     
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  15. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you had a good show 3bears I hope you can make another one soon
     
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  16. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    I did indeed Jerry, overall it was a good time and I learned a ton, not only how to better my work but also how the dynamics play out. Many folks are still plenty tight lipped on their techniques but if you actually ask them directly, they seem to be willing to answer your questions and I understand that. I am on board and will be encouraging others to go to these as well. It looks like my next chance to get away may just be the UTA/OK show this June. I've got to get a ton of stuff done before then, both business side and in my world outside of taxidermy.
     
  17. fishmaster

    fishmaster Well-Known Member

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    Three Bears, Sorry I didn't put it together at the show and get a chance to visit with you. If that was your first show you picked a dandy to attend. An incredible level of quality there.
    On the weekend I did have a revelation concerning my views of judging and how it would apply to a show like the Iowa show. I still like the concept of competing against my peers instead of an arbitrary score sheet however when I looked in that room with 196 pieces it dawned on me just how many of those were whitetails. There is really no way to subcategorize deer past closed mouth and open mouth. Therefore it would really limit the number of ribbons possible for a huge showing of one specie. It would have worked in all of the other departments but not so well with deer. My original intent was to apply that method only to Masters division and I realized when I re-read my post that I'd failed to make that point. Still, I don't know how many masters Deer there were but there was a lot and under my suggestions there would have been a lot of disappointment.
    Oh well, i'll try to keep the lids tighter on the resin and lacquer paint around here so I don't drop off the deep end.
     
  18. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I did pick a good show to attend for my first one and I also picked a tough one to bring a whitetail mount to. I did get a red ribbon or second place in the pro division for my troubles. I knew some of the issues prior to entering and grabbed it off the wall any way just so I could get a critique and I wasn't disappointed. I'll work on those for the next one.
    We all have and are entitled to our own opinions and none of them can be wrong, just different.
    Maybe some time we can chat at a show, cause I don't plan on stepping out of the game any time soon and hopefully you won't get too bored with it either.
     
  19. Brian Reinertson

    Brian Reinertson Well-Known Member

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    Don, there were 14 masters wt, 9 of them open mouth of high quality. Another 30 between pro and amateur. Great meeting you and thanks for bringing such amazing art. Your graying was one of my favorite pieces of the whole show.
     
  20. Cole

    Cole Amateur Taxidermist

    1. Can supplier affiliated judges be completely unbiased? Not completely. Having judged dozens of competitions in the earlier years of competitions in the US, Canada and abroad, I encountered many of my original mannikins under the skins of many good, and not so good entries. It was tough for me to be completely unbiased, because I couldn’t fault the anatomy on entries, anatomy being the major part of scoring criteria. All my forms back then were done strictly for commercial purposes, consequently some were not always the caliber of my museum work. Every supplier affiliated judge faces the same dilemma. With the exception of a few judges like Jean Roll and Mike Orthober, (to name just two with impeccable integrity,) any judge with a background commercial interest in the outcomes of competitions do not instill total confidence in all competitors who’s mounts score less than first place.

    I'm not sure I follow: You "couldn't fault the anatomy on entries (you sculpted)", but those were "commercial" sculptures not the "caliber of (your) museum work"? I would think faulting the anatomy would have been even easier, you should have known exactly what to look for. To answer the question, if a sculptor judges an entry on his/her manikin it would stand to reason they would favor the look and anatomy of it, after all that is why they sculpted it that way. That being said, these are the experts in the industry and should absolutely be judging these shows. If someone thinks they can gain an advantage using his/her manikins, then use them. Everyone plays by the same rules.

    2. Should association officers and BODs be disqualified from competitions they manage? Yes. How fair is it to compete against those who invent the categories, write the rules, administer the rules, choose and hire the judges, set the amounts of prize money, monitor the competition room and keep score? What can be fair and above board in allowing such entrants in a competition which they completely control? (Notwithstanding that many happen to do award winning work.) It’s not like depriving them of competition opportunities in neighboring states, the WTC and the NTA. If I can see a conflict, so can they. Anecdotal stories abound of board members roaming freely throughout competition rooms before judging is even complete, when they themselves have entries in the competition. Furthermore, men of character might be expected to step out of competitions they control at least once in a while and allow some equally skilled general members a fairer chance at some of the top trophies and prize money too. Disagree with me all you want, but you won’t see Larry Bloomquist entering the WTC nor did I enter the TR competitions either.

    BOD does not "invent categories" or "write the rules". These categories and rules were there before the BOD was elected, and any changes must be approved by the membership. The analogy of Larry Bloomquist and the WTC is ridiculous. Larry is an owner of the WTC, and profits from it. I suppose if you want to start paying BODs, I would agree with you. Until then, these are VOLUNTEER positions, and they ABSOLUTELY should be allowed to compete. One: They are working the entire show, and missing out on seminars, etc. The least they can do is enter a mount, and learn as much as they can from it. Two: If BOD's were not allowed to compete, no way anyone would be willing to do the job. Work all year planning the show, work the entire time at the show, purchase an extra hotel night to arrive a day early to set up for the show, pay the same registration and hotel fees as everyone else at the show, reap zero benefits from any of it. Yeah, I'm sure there would be a long line of people signing up for that job.

    3. Is it fair to judge half-lifesize entries in game head categories? Conditionally. Provided that the legs are judged as well and points deducted from the overall score for any flaws in the legs and partial torso. It would be fairer to put them in a separate category.

    Is it fair? The rules are the same for everyone, so of course it's fair. If you think you have an advantage adding legs, go for it. We all play by the same rules. That being said, in my home state if it has front legs it is a life size. Then the same question gets asked...is that fair to not have rear legs and tail? If you feel it's an advantage, do a half life size. Again, same rules for everyone...so no advantage to anyone.

    4. Should predator species be categorically separate from prey species in small mammal divisions? My thinking here was that predators often entail finely detailed mouth work than say, squirrels, rabbits, and most prey species. On the other hand, squirrels, etc., present greater problems on ears and shrinkage in toes than on predators. The different challenges would be better addressed if they were in different categories. Offhand, I can’t think of when a pair of squirrels ever won over a pair of fighting coyotes to win best of category. The larger small mammals like predators simply appear more dynamic just from size alone. As for reclassifying categories, I favor letting competitors sort that out. One major problem to making changes is that those who manage competitions (club officers and directors) rarely pay attention to input from general members. Categories and rules have been static so long that it’s nearly impossible to convince anyone that an overall reorganization of categories and awards would improve fairness. BODs and competition managers (committeemen) have known only one way and often prefer to maintain the status quo – the way it’s always been done. Kind of like the lingering attitude of “Why fix a thing if it ain’t broke?”

    For me this would depend on the number of entries in a category. If you have 10 deer, 10 fish, 10 birds, and 25 small mammals, it may be beneficial to divide the category. That is generally not the case, so until the category becomes too large, I see no reason to sub categorize it. Not changing it has nothing to do with an unwillingness to change. Here in MO we have some rule changes almost every year. As competitions grow, develop, and change so do we and the rules we have for them.

    5. Have money prizes improved or corrupted participation in taxidermy competitions? As I said earlier, corrupt is not the appropriate word, but after reading some of the responses here, I still have an open mind. Some say the amounts of prize money isn’t that high. And those who consistently place in the money year after year say it hasn’t corrupted the game at all. But I have noticed that a number of individuals who win top money prizes year after year also happen to be in positions to covertly influence outcomes. Money corrupted baseball and boxing, like throwing a game or taking a dive. Art forgery is practically an industry in itself. Then there’s US Congress men and women. Taking bribes from lobbyists is a way of life tor the vast majority. (Ron Paul was a notable exception. Yea for Texas!) Human nature is what it is and taxidermists of all stripes are human. But I digress. As I have written repeatedly, recognition is the strongest craving of the human soul. If that’s true then the craving for money has got to be number two.

    As I eluded to in an earlier response, a dishonest person's ego is a far bigger temptation than a couple hundred bucks. Those that cheat in taxidermy competitions are not persuaded by the money, but by the desire to be superior to his/her peers. They seek praise and accolades, not monetary gain.