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Calling it quits

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by George, May 7, 2018.

  1. magicmick

    magicmick magicmick

    We all only get one shot in life,DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY,good move George.
    Chippers likes this.
  2. gab

    gab Active Member

    Good luck in all future endeavors!
    people ask me what direction the industry is going in and I've been thinking about it.The next generation have too many indoor politically correct activities at their fingertips to want to hunt and are not appreciative of the value of taxidermy as memoir of the hunt.I think in the future there is not going to be a mix of big shops and small shops.It will be mostly the big shops surviving as there will be fewer clients in the pool.Or if our country goes more politically correct and socialist the opposite will happen and it will be too difficult to maintain a large business that is not socially accepted
    KatieC likes this.

  3. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    Your insight is coming from Texas no less , a taxidermists paradise !
    Taxidermy will dry up along the coasts long before it reaches Texas. It already is in the NE .
    I think taxidermy will slowly go underground geographically. There are other parts to this social agenda also , save for later .
    Codi likes this.
  4. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    Damned George what am I going to do without you? Will have no-one to repeat my words or opinions so now I'll have to put all those words down myself and have no-one to agree with me. I'm 82 years old and have been skinning and mounting since 15 years old. We've both seen this craft evolve from boiling and rebuilding to snap together taxidermy, for better or worse. With us gone our experience will just fade away
    I still do taxidermy although I only take in what I like to do and can make a real buck$$ doing it. This year I put a limit of 5 deer heads....that's it. Now my real income comes from making and selling the DEET-FREE insect repellent I created and sell across the country through Tractor Supply and other distributors. Found a way to earn a living working only an hour a day for just a few weeks of the year. Today I did a turkey tail mount ( 2 hours ) $250.00 then shipped $1500 worth of repellent, another hour. Then got the boat ready for the return of the Stripers...oiled and cleaned my offshore reels and changed the old line for new.
    You me and Richard C are hangers-on and sorry to say what we learned through the years will never be passed on to a beginner as there are no beginners knocking at our doors wanting to learn.Speaking for myself I was always a full time shop when the work came in but if it didn't I found other ways to earn a living and will work until my donated body goes to the Tufts Medical Center and the ashes to the Military Crypt in Boscawen, NH.
    Funny and scary how we always agreed on procedures and philosophy regarding Taxidermy
    through the years and I loved your "Drill sergeant " no-holds barred way of telling it the way it is. You will be missed.
  5. AZ~Rich

    AZ~Rich " Africa" never fails to satisfy

    George, never having met you and seeing all the controversy on this site over the years, I still think you came through it all as a stand up guy and one who never hesitated to help others learn from your experience and knowledge. As colorful as you are, it would be a real shame if you stopped participating and sharing your experiences with us on Taxinet. I'm with the others who think your contributions to the field of taxidermy have been abundant and quite valuable. Keep healthy and happy. Someday when I am in your neck of the woods I certainly would enjoy the chance to meet you. Rich Reinert , Bushveld Taxidermy
  6. landdepot

    landdepot Active Member

    Happy retirement George,...always enjoyed your post. Hopefully they wont stop.
  7. fish stuffer

    fish stuffer Active Member

    I sure wish you well George. I've enjoyed seeing your posts on here and arguing with you, back when I was using another handle. I've been here about 10 years, although I left T.N. for a couple.I hope you will hang around and offer your input.

    I'm 63 and started around 1969-70, trying to learn it for "fun and profit." I've struggled with taxidermy my whole life, in and out of it. Some of us need to hang it up, me included. One reason I stay with it is "my other job." I worked sheet metal and air cond. for 35 years. Guess what, it ain't no bed of roses neither. It never paid much. I'm damn good at it too. I always had a company truck to drive home, even though I worked for 14 diff. cos. I always ran jobs, foreman, superintendent, whatever you want to call it. Alot of the younger guys didn't want the headache and responsibility, but I'd take on the challenge even when I was young. I fed my family, and paid for my place, that's about it. But as I look back, I remember always wanting to do tax full time. I started back about 10 years ago. I quit my job 18 mos. ago. I get discouraged because it just hasn't taken off like I hoped it would.

    Your 2nd paragraph, you mentioned the gasoline assed attitudes, gettet done quick but cheap and showroom quality mindsets. Well I know what you're saying, I haven't had much problem with that but it's because of the low volume of work that I do.

    What I'd like to know is, "What Ta Hell Changed?" In the old "closed door days", dermists wouldn't tell you nothing. Well think about it, you had paper forms, you didn't have all this snap together chit we got now. I'm seeing people been doing it 2 years and their work looks excellent. I'm not trying to take away from them, but, it's all been done for you. If you can mount a nice deer, no reason to get your head all swelled up, because the reason your deer looks so good is because Mr. Coombs or mister Bein sculpted you a nice manikin, Joe Medor made you some eyes that look like a live deer, look at the earlinners we got to choose from, with viens, presculpted earbuts. We have glue that will hold really well. Any idiot can learn taxidermy, IF they can get past the fleshing. Do they have the desire, patience, and hand eye coordination. Heck, some don't even flesh and tan any, send it to someone else to do their dirty work. Nothing wrong with that, it is a business after all.

    Why, do people go out of their way to "share their knowledge" when in the past they wouldn't? Is it because of the internet? Remember when we had storefronts? Then the "shopping malls" came to town. Everything changed. Remember when your sign, yellowpages , newspaper adds were your main ways of advertising.?

    Now, you can make a FB page, easy to post pics., free, you can be a legend in your own mind. Instant recognition. The shows, conventions, seminars, dvd's, the "Magazine", all designed to sell supplies. There's already too many taxidermists out there but people will walk a mile uphill in the snow to answer a newby question. It's not because they want to promote the industry, or help someone, it's because of recognition. Then, they complain that some newby, or"HACK" is cutting prices. There wouldn't be 100 in everytown, with prices ranging from 199 on up on a deer head if it wasn't for this change that has taken place. Now before everbody starts calling me names, somebody answer the question. What changed? In the old days---tell them nothing. Now--tell them anything they need to know.

    I've read all the pricing posts. Raise prices raise prices, well you damn sure better. It's usually the ones with a good buss going saying that. WHY? Nobody likes their compitition undercutting prices , plus it helps justify why they charge so much.

    The public needs to be educated more, but how? I've stayed in the midrange, by choice. Average price, but I give a slightly above average mt. I definately give them their moneys worth. Not trying to turn this into a pricing post, but I've been trying to decide if I want to go up on quality and price or go the other way. For example, the highest guy in town dry preserves his deer. I know all the ups and downs of that, but I could quit tanning, use some of the cheaper forms, but still turn out a deermount that will sell. But, my damn ego won't let me. Our egos are costing us money. We spend that little extra to put that little more detail in our work and the cust dont even know what we do for them. I remember Ken talking about a shop that did 75 dollar ducks back in the day. He charged 75 but he gave them a 75 dollar duck. He was a good business man.

    Something else I've noticed, now this one might draw some fire, is: all the girls getting in it. That's great! I ain't knocking it. But it's already been discussed many times on here, most sucessful dermists have either another income, pension, part time job, or spouse with a good job. Id bet that's true in some of these situations too. If anybody, man or woman has a working spouse bringing home the bacon, they are going to have a better chance at making it in taxidermy. Not only does it help pay the bills, but it puts them in a better state of mind while doing the mounts. Ever tried to mount something when you are depressed?It's hard to mount something when you're overrun by problems too, like money problems for example. It will show in your work too. I know some men who do good work but if they didn't make a dime at taxi, not to worry, Mammas got me covered. Wife owns a bank, Cpa, good job, good benifits. Again, im not knocking it, it's just life. But I wonder how many go to a show and just clean house, come home with a box of ribbons and plaques if they done all the mounts depressed, worried about money issues, etc. We are talking about the taxidermy industry as a whole aren't we. ?

    In HVAC, if my furnace goes out, I have to pay book price for a new one. My old boss, super rich, would get a discount if his furnace quit. The supply houses program it in the computer how much discount he will get based on how much he buys there annualy. In taxi, anybody can get online , or get a free cat. and buy supplies as cheap as me. Now there's something wrong with that. We're in a buss. programed to fail. Give your compitition all your free info. help them, and let them get supplies as cheap as you. Then whine like a little bitch when they take your buss. Everybody talks about it, the "Lowballers."I wonder how that mentality would work in war? Let's give Hitler all our intell, let him buy bombs from us at the same price and help him blow us up.lol

    Personally, I think a judge should not be allowed to touch a mount. Just look at it, like the Mike Boyce video, 25 years old. Taxidermy is intended to be viewed from a distance 6-8 feet back. Shine a light up a nose, ear? Well I can see why they do it. Imagine a show where they only had comercial quality mounts, but you had to make everything yourself. Shine a light and you're going to see epoxie work, homemade tongues, real teeth, and you had to make your own forms. That would separate the men from the boys. If you won, you could call yourself a real taxidermist. After all, don't we immortalize Aeckley, Smith,Jonas, Inchamuk, and all the forefathers of our industry.

    If you get down to it, euros are not taxidermy.Plastic turkey heads are not taxidermy. Freeze dry is not taxidermy. If you mount an elk and use that mck. snap in mouth for buggling elk it's nice but it's not anything you done. Dennis done that and you just glued it in. And the fish heads, a plastic fish is not taxidermy. Any "artist" can paint one. I'm an artist, give me a photo of you and I can draw it. I do some repos, but it aint taxidermy. No skin or "mounting" involved. Habitat isn't taxidermy.Some of the bases aren't either. And I'd bet they hired a wood working shop to build it for them. Then they stack all that bushes and chit on ther to make their mount look better. It's not taxidermy.

    Imo it's all designed to sell supplies, shows, ribbons, seminars. It has all helped to flood the market with do it yourself animal stuffers .With all the anti's, gun controll leftys, it is a dying profession. I noticed years ago how many go to the top, making videos, books, judges, it's almost like people get in it and later wish they hadn't.Back in the day, I'd bet jw Elwood done more to put taxidermists into it than anything but that was in a world when there wasn't many to be found. People would come from miles around. In todays world I'd say that honor would go to taxi net. It has done a ton to help the industry, and improve the overall quallity of taxidermy work. But as I said, all the quallity supplies were made or sculpted by a handfull of gifted artists. So if the quality of taxidermy has improved, it's because of the quality of the supplies , and they have us by the gonads, most can't mount without them.With all that T net has done to help, if you look at the individual, struggling to make it, even though he's been at it since childhood,he's having trouble getting enough work, trouble getting the price he needs, I think this site has Hurt everybit as much as it's helped. Why? Because it's made everybody and his brother a taxidermist. Look out your window in all 4 directions and see a shingle. It drives our prices down, while the material prices go up. Also, every customer that comes in my shop knows at least 3-4 other dermists. I had one that knew 8 dermists. It made me work harder to do a better job, but I won't get paid any extra. I know I'll get hammered or deleted but I've thought this for a long time. Nobody has the balls to admit it .

    George I think you're wise to quit, I'm right behind you. Best of luck.
  8. landdepot

    landdepot Active Member

    I don't know the numbers but my guess is unlike the HVAC industry first timers and newer people or low volume people make up a ton of business for the suppliers. I guess any company could offer discounts to high volume customers but my point is there isn't a ton of people out there trying out HVAC/Plumbing/Electric work for fun in there basement. So in this industry high volume costumers could be less valuable. Not that many industrial suppliers of any kind sell costumer direct that I know of anyway.
    My bigger point would be this. When people start to compare taxidermy to HVAC /PLumbig/Electric work/Carpentry etc,...in any way whatsoever they have went down the road to lala land. All those things are utilities. People (at least 95% out there) HAVE to have them. No matter how tight money$ is when the stuff goes out they are going to immediately call and have it fixed. Taxidermy is NOT a utility. People don't HAVE TO HAVE it. It compares in no way whatsoever to those other industries in the way some taxidermist would so want them to.
    Taxidermy is art,..no more no less. If anybody is going to compare supply companies it needs to be with Michaels or DickBlick or something,......not a utility of any kind.....Happy Retirement George.
  9. Kerby Ross

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

    George, I wish you the best. Enjoy life .... I know you have earned it!

    Is taxidermy changing? Sure, it always has. I have seen it change as I have been playing with it for over 40 years. But for me those changes are for the BEST! Has technology made it easier to do taxidermy .... I SURE HOPE SO! Because of technology, today I don't have to use MS DOS to boot my computer up every time I use it. "Back in the old days" ...... Well in 50 years some people, some where .... will be having this same conversation. "Ya, back in 2018 it wasn't so easy .... you guys have it so easy today. Technology has made it easier for you". Well, I sure hope so!

    Yes, back in the day there wasn't too much information sharing. Then in the 1980's state associations started popping up and the age of information sharing was born. I'm sure there were some "old timers" of the day that bitched about THAT. But for me, I believe it advanced the quality of taxidermy for OUR benefit. Then better trade magazines came out..... more information sharing. Then in the 1990's .... the internet. Another avenue for information sharing. FASTER >>> BETTER >>> Even more "old timers" bitching about it.

    We have choices in life, we can do taxidermy because we like it or we can run it like a business. I do find it interesting to hear about pricing .... because there are some shops that charge a pretty penny and turn out some serious volume. Making money .... cha-ching! Price of materials go up, so do they. They charge what is necessary to make a good profit ... and guess what? Their customers PAY IT! OMG! lol The same problem exist in ALL businesses ...... you can be the best cook or the best taxidermist around .... but if you don't know how to run a business, then odds are you will fail. It has always been that way .... always will be. If one can't figure out how to make money doing taxidermy - then by all means quit. Some GET IT and most don't. That too will never change.

    I am a supporter of taxidermy conventions/competitions. It has allowed taxidermy to be advanced. Sharing of ideas is GREAT! And the quality of mounts keep getting better. I don't give a rat's ass how one gets there ... just as long as they do the work.

    Of course people today can learn taxidermy quicker, it is expected. How-to information is really just a click away .... taxidermy, house projects, etc. Take advantage of it and quit bitchin' about the old days. :)

    The only downfall to the taxidermy business I see over time is the downfall of hunting and fishing. Eventually it will catch up. May not be in our lifetime, but it will happen .... learn to adapt. C&R fanatics have slowed down skin fish mounts ..... so some have learned to market fish reproductions as an alternative. As technology changes so should we ..... or we can keep coming up with excuses as to what taxidermy is and isn't.

    Raise your prices, take in fewer mounts, have more time off to enjoy life ... and make more money.


    Last edited: May 12, 2018
  10. fish stuffer

    fish stuffer Active Member

    I respect your viewpoint. It's interesting to see how others see things. First, there are alot of mechanical cos working out of their garage. It's the same problem, too many mechanical cos. competing for the work. My million air ex boss told me one time, he used to bid 10 jobs, he would get 7-8 of them. Now he bids 20 and might get 2-3 and you don't know for shure you got them till you show up and start working. The construction co general contractor tells the next lowest bidder and he shaves his price and he takes the job away from you. I'm pretty sure that's illegal, but they do it. If the other guy is high, tell him how much to drop his price and give him the job.

    I ask the question on here once, if Mc divided their customers in 2 catagories. One is big co's who buy thousands at a time, 2nd is newbys who buy a couple forms at a time. In that group, add the dvd's, learning aids etc. I'd bet they sell more to the newcomers. But I don't know the answer. Anyway, selling is selling, reguardless if it's a luxury item or a necessity. With so much free info out there, it's a wonder any of us get any work. The hunters should just mount their own. Someone responded that in the future only the big shops will be around. I think it's just the opposite.

    Any one would be a fool not to get on here for free advice. Like u-tube. FB, every sombeach walking has a camera now, dying for some atention. Every body's trying to make a video, even when they ain't got nothing to say. Attention whores. I've got some in my family.

    Give a man a fish and he eats one meal. Teach him to mount his own deer heads and you can sell him supplies and with in 2 months he'll hang his sign and take away work from the big shops that spent their life learning it and it will make it impossible for the big shop to stay in buss without dropping prices. And there ruinning people's mounts along the way.
  11. landdepot

    landdepot Active Member

    I don't know,..to me its just free markets. Once again I don't compare it to any utility industry. To me the guy in the basement (used to be me piddlin for full disclosure) is the same as anybody sittin down in their easy chair with something as simple as pen and pencil to do some sketching. I do see this as wildlife art in its purist form...just a different kind.
    there are folks out there who make there living at flat art /sculpting/ you name it. Is the guy doing it for fun or inspiration that may occasionally sell something hurting an artist that makes there living at it,...well maybe ,..but hey that full timer was just a beginner once too. If I sell a piece of flat art sometime or do something cool and personal for a friend did the Terry Redlin estate take a hit ??? Well in theory I guess but I think its ok to do so.
    This being art it is also 100% subjective,..some of the guys out there doing this for 30 years aint worth crap at it either. Some of the best work comes out of part time shops,..its just a random subjective thing different to everyones eye.
    To me is it just art,..with all the good and bad that goes with it. Fun to do/look at/explore....but I'm sure its tough to make a living at with its own headaches. As with any art,...Best -Aaron
    AZ~Rich and fish stuffer like this.
  12. Bingo!!!!
    It started with all the dang videos, then it went to , dvds, youtube, etc. I been saying this for years and seeing it come true.
    Even those that argue against that theory. Are the ones profiting from it.
    You can bet the dam farm that anyone who watches just one deer taxidermy lesson. Is going to mount some for their best friends and family. Lets say that he only does four, it’s just four, ok no big loss from my inventory right. But wait there where 9 more good ol boys that watched Youtube also. Each one of them have 3 best friends and a brother . Wellllllll now that total is 40 out of your inventory. We are talking 20,000.00 @ 500.00 thats a hell of a pay cut for any body, large or small shops.
    Those numbers are sure just made up but in ever since of the words possible but could be worse. Ive personaly seen “newbies” open up and “ so called hobbiest “ nibble into my $$$$ . And yes I picked up new customers during it, but. I dont care who you are NO BODY likes watching their income nibbled at!
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
  13. landdepot

    landdepot Active Member

    Why shouldn't they do it??? Whos to say they cant or regulate it??
    KatieC, AZ~Rich and Kerby Ross like this.
  14. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Fish stuffer, as someone who has taught people how to mount fish, I'm sure you've seen people that, no matter how well you taught them, they couldn't mount a fish for chit. That is no different than here. We can share the info but it is up to people to put it to work and do it well. I've had many customers tell me that they have watched videos online or read books or even came here and read info. They attempted to put it to use but failed miserably and ended up throwing it away or even walked through my door begging for help.
    Now for comparisons, I agree with land depot we can't compare a luxury such as taxidermy with things that necessary. Way back in my early years I worked in auto body, it is a field that comprises of both needed and luxury. I can tell you that most shops wouldn't stay open taking only luxury customers, IE restores, customizing. Their bread and butter is insurance work. It also happens to be something that many people door did at home in their garage.
    Glenn, I can't say that I don't completely disagree with your point of view, I've seen it happen but, I also look at it differently. Those weren't my customers anyway or they are not my target market, if you will. There will always be folks like that, nothing we can do about it. Hell, it is how I started in this business.
  15. Reading comprehension 101
    Never said they shouldn’t! Just said abundant lesson / saturated service has a negative impact on all involved.
  16. “Glenn, I can't say that I don't completely disagree with your point of view, I've seen it happen but, I also look at it differently. Those weren't my customers anyway or they are not my target market, if you will. There will always be folks like that, nothing we can do about it. Hell, it is how I started in this business.”

    Oh I know 3 bears, I haven’t forgotten when I bailed off into it. That I was getting in someones pocket book or livelihood then. That never ever accured to me then. I only saw as those do today “ Im gods gift to taxidermy and better than so and so is”. 20 years old young, dumb, and full of $hit was me. I Aint changed much neither. Lol
    With the shoe on the other foot now, it seems different, when in fact its not. Knowing that doesn’t make the pill go down any easier.
    Really all im saying is back then the numbers of people jumping in was SMALL really small today its in large numbers due to the readability of learning lessons. The market is becoming to saturated. At some point a full time taxidermist could be extinct.
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
    Megan :) and fish stuffer like this.
  17. landdepot

    landdepot Active Member

    As I reread your paragraph I still came away with the feeling that you think small timers/start-ups/hobbiest/ etc,..were an overall negative on the industry and full timers in general...and with that thought you were of the mind something should change about that. I'm not sure how anyone would come away after reading that thinking anything different. That being said if that's not what you meant then yes my comprehension was off on what you wrote.
  18. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    I'm not so sure that many will last for long. It is like everything else cyclic in nature. There are plenty of people getting out of the business as well, I can list names of at least 3 near me, that did pretty good work.
    Here's my plan and it may fail but, I'm going with it. My plan is to work on targeting a different pool of clientele, IE those with more disposable income, and not worry about what other shops or hobby guys are doing. The market is out there, you have to find it, it isn't coming to you. Yes, it has become more of a challenge, I don't think anybody can argue that. I bet if you talk to some of the "Big dogs" in the industry, they would likely be able to, not that they would but could, that they do work for people that live all around you, regardless of where they are located. I'm just at this time a 1 man small shop but some of my wealthy customers drive by many good taxidermists to get to me and they have used a bunch of them. Those are the customers that a luxury business such as this need to thrive, not the guy down the street that has to decide between, pay the rent or get a mount done.
    landdepot likes this.
  19. L
    I can cee that!
    Lets see if this maybe explains thinking.
    I have had two friends come into the shop and tell me they were going to start doing taxidermy. And mount a few heads for faimly members and friends only, so that they want be competing against me. In each case
    The numbers where about 10 heads ea. (20) With the exception of 3 all where my customers. So it was direct competition. Welll thats fine its a free enterprise, system here right. But I guarantee you if i could take 5g out of my friends paycheck and put it my pocket.

    Bet We wouldn’t be friends any more!

    Yet we remain friends still today. Both of these men bought videos to learn the glamorous , wealth paying job! Yea ! both thought they invented taxidermy, both thought they were gonna have $$$$$ poured upon them. All of this is ok its our system, if it wasn't I would still be cutting meat in a grocery store.
    My bad taste in my mouth wasn’t against them. But the dam videos that made it happen. see it gave them the impression this is easy job, fast money. Wellllll it aint !!!!
    To continue their story one of them a year later decided to jump in all the way in. The other found this isnt exactly glamour work and said screw it. The other at best made 15/20 heads. Since riches didn’t pour into his pocket he said screw it , within another year.

    I seriously doubt you will still understand my negativity against dvds and youtube.
    But hey! hurray for anyone wanting more or just a change in life. Long live a free enterprise system!
  20. landdepot

    landdepot Active Member

    I'm not trying to be an A$$ here and yeah I can see where the negativity comes from,..although it should be no surprise to anyone entering into this for a living. I guess my question if it is one is are you for some sort of change to the "free enterprise system" that you referenced? Once again you didn't outright call for it but it just seems to be there.