I love these responses. It's a shame that there are some who'll ignore everything that's being said in these last few comments and they should have been putting them in the back of their brains for future reference. Let me address helping others. As a 12 year old kid without a pot to piss in, I just HAD to save my first squirrel. I didn't have old J.W. to help me through it. I read the ads in the outdoor magazines and dreamed of that day I'd be able to mount instead of stuff. I rode an old second had bicycle with maypop tires a hundred miles or more selling Burpee seeds making a nickel off of a 15 cents bag of seeds just so I could pay the $12 for the J.W. Elwood course. I was thrown out of several taxidermy shops. Just asking a simple question would get you thrown out on your ear. I swore that if I EVER learned the trade well enough to share it, I'd share it with anyone who asked. I've had students who'll tell you that they came here (many were fed and housed) where I never charged them a single dime but that had to agree that by coming to me, if ANYONE ever asked them about something, they, too, would share it forward. Now the artist bit. I know some of you and have been blessed with working with some of the most gifted artists in the world who just happened to do taxidermy. But the rest of you are not artists. We weren't before, you aren't now, and you'll never be on in the world of modern taxidermy. You are a craftsman and could quite possibly be the best craftsman in the world, but that doesn't make you an artist. Artists take a block of marble and chisel away the slag to reveal the "Madonna and Child", "Venus", and other breath taking sculptures. They take a sheet of canvas and create works like the "Last Super", "Mona Lisa" and give us the only renderings of the famous people who lived and died before photography. You, on the other had, take a hide you've peeled off an animal, you preserve that hide and then you put it on a form you didn't create, using eyes you didn't make, earliners you bought, glue you bought, clay you bought, paint you bought, using a hanger you bought. What you've done is gone up and put a shawl on "Venus" or a light on "Mona Lisa". That makes you a craftsman. Kerby, I'll admit that I'm attracted to your ideas about competitions, but it's bittersweet since I was there before they came along. I know there was certainly a "Golden Age" where anyone and everyone in the industry came from far and near. As a pragmatist, I have to wonder if it wasn't to either validate their work or to see if their methods could or should be improved. The anxiety and disappointments came when money and prizes were added to the mix. I know of no other "art" where work is judged and graded, ribbons are placed or money awarded. Taxidermy has historically been a struggle for its own existence and though we wish it weren't so, it continues. It's scary to me when America's museum at the Smithsonian fires it's complete staff of artisans and disposes of millions of dollars worth of skins and mounts. All any of us can do is hang on and try to keep our trade alive until the apocalypse. Obviously I agree with your last sentence. Though we have no one other than ourselves to satisfy, I do wish taxidermists would sit back and see how much their time is actually worth. I don't need to be a math whiz to understand that while I spend one minute doing a mount, I cheat my family, my friends, and myself. If you doubt that, call up the customer and see what THEY are doing while you're working. I've use this analogy several times here, and I'm going to use it again for those who missed it (or ignored it). Taxidermy is like Monkey College. In Monkey College, every student comes in carrying some sort of monkey on his back. Though he may have tried to dump the monkey, it still clings tight and he realizes that the only way to get it off his back is to give it to someone else. That's where taxidermists come in. They walk through the door with that monkey on their back and they intend on giving it to you. Without much effort, they easily dump their monkey on your back and soon, you have dozens of monkeys on your back while your clients enjoy being monkey free. At first, the clients flattered you or begged you to take their monkey but after some time you readily embraced the idea. Though most will not recognize the weight of these monkeys until they weigh you down, the smart ones start eliminating the number of monkeys coming into the shop. Realizing that the weight of these monkeys isn't going to decrease until you get their original owners back into the shop, the smart business people decide to be compensated for holding on to this monkey for up to a year or more. I guess that's where I am. I've gotten to the point I'm tired of carrying somebody else's monkey.