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Calling it quits

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

  1. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    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.
    JL likes this.
  2. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    LOL Glenn. I read your remark about videos. I suppose if I was any good and half as smart as I like to think I am, I'd have gone that direction and been another Chuck Testa. Remember what your elders said: "Them that can, do. Them that can't, teach."
    Megan :) and buckfever* like this.

  3. landdepot

    landdepot Active Member

    George I would only respectfully disagree with your art thoughts. I think this is a form of wildlife art. It performs ZERO utility...it has only aesthetic values. You hang it on the wall (or wherever) and you look at it. If it wasn't on my wall then a Hayden Lambson or Ray Harm print would be there instead,..so yes it is art to me. As for the Mona Lisa,..I wouldn't trade my 2 Eddie Boutwell deer heads for 1,000 Mona's. I like to look at what I like to look at. Best of luck to all you guys who pursue this as a career. -Aaron
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
    Kerby Ross likes this.
  4. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    George, the first thing I did when I retired was get a hobby, and it wasn't taxidermy. I've got two street rods that I play with. find a hobby totally away from what you have done your whole life and you will be much happier! then just mount a few things here and there to keep your hands in the fire. I wish you the very best. family photo 3.jpg 002.JPG
  5. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Glenn, tell us how you really feel, quit beating around the bush.
    I get what you are saying, I use to feel the same way, there were no videos when I started, I got my hands on a book and went for it with a deer mount. After a number of years with a fool for a teacher, myself, I took the leap and invested in schooling. Money well spent, IMO.
    My suggestion to those that are bitter with the changes is to not necessarily embrace them but accept them and find a way to keep yourself and your business relevant, the "Old days" are gone. Change sucks, deal with it and move forward.
  6. byrdman

    byrdman Well-Known Member

    well George you have to retire sometime good luck and for those hunters we lost I do believe they will be back or at least thier kids am seeing more and more clients coming in with sons and daughters with thier "firsts" and lots of youth programs and special youth hunts I do believe it will be back close to what it was but maybe too late for most of us so the "snap-together" taxidermists of today will have to just advance the industry even more which I think they can and will so dont despair George taxidermy will never die.
    3bears likes this.
  7. Ok ok you pushed me into my wish list

    Lets bann sagging pants below the a$$.
    Bann this crap the are trying to call country musc.
    Stop fn with southen heritage
    Stop trying to convince me queer is accepted behavior.
    Stop sending billions of dollars to countries that want to cut your head off.
    Bann car radios that can be heard thumping a mile away.
    Bann all rap music
    Bring back southern rock and 70’s rock.
    Erect statues of Ronnie Van Zant.
    Remove Egder medver rode signs
    Do away with political parties all together .
    Bring back little miller ponies.
    Make something that actually kills FIREANTS.
    Water should be free to all.
    Close all wallmarts ,reopen mom and pops
    Abd stop nibbling at my $$$$
    Now are you happy!! I feel better I do its off my chest now!
    By the way never took your post as being an ass. Your initialed to you opnion .
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
    Megan :), George and 3bears like this.
  8. landdepot

    landdepot Active Member

    Alright then,.. there we have it.
  9. fish stuffer

    fish stuffer Active Member

    Nice rides!
  10. fish stuffer

    fish stuffer Active Member

    Buck fever, I need your name and info. I'm gonna nominate you for pres. If you can get the thumping turned down and the sagging pants guys finned or put in jail, i'm gonna vote for you. 4 terms.
    buckfever* likes this.
  11. livbucks

    livbucks Well-Known Member

    The only thing
    That stays the same is
    Everything changes
    Everything chay-eya-a-anges....
  12. wa

    wa Thanks John...this depicts me better

    God you guys sound so OLD!
    Just get out the 1000 piece puzzles and tell the kids to get off your grass

    The world has changed deal with it.... Or not

    Ps happy Mothers Day to all the Moms
  13. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    Lot's of good responses here . Yes all has changed in taxidermy and the world. I especially like the change in prices , I learned yesterday that a BAD deer head from a "AWARD" winning taxidermist costs $640.00 ,north of me . I guess the manufacturing cost of bad deer heads has gone up along with everything else, who knew ?
    I remember when a bad deer was $250.00 and a good one $450.00, what does a good one go for now that a bad one is $640.00 ? You guys all know you "can't get that price in your area" , so your kind of screwed. I always wondered why and how someone would strive and study and spend money learning taxidermy to clean up in competition and then go back to the shop and predicate their prices to turn out ham and egger mounts.
    This all must be related to the 70's when Joe Kish wrote about "standards" in taxidermy , where there are none , never were , none now and never will be . The taxidermy industry , two steps forward one step backwards .
    The best part is Joe hunter , who will pay any amount of money to turn these animals into dead meat will now have to pay a lot more at the bottom of the price structure for their bad mounts.
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
    JL likes this.
  14. Yep I've often thought, I should have a made a video on "How to screw up in taxidermy/ What not to do !'' Lord knows I have screwed the pooch more that once. Followed up with "Dont do this to a skin" Then maybe
    "This will hurt"
    That one has to be a million dollar seller as many trips I've been to the ER. And of course
    "The tub is slippery at the NTA"
    That crap wasn't funny !!!!!!!
    Megan :) and 3bears like this.
  15. Steven Klee

    Steven Klee Steven Klee Studios

    Sounds like you've got it all figured out George....By this analogy there actually hasn't been any art produced since before the early 1800's when manufacturers began supplying artists with pigments and other supplies. Or maybe earlier than that when artists actually purchased or traded for frames from woodcarvers. Or maybe earlier still when they purchased or traded for canvas from canvas weavers.. The fact is artists and taxidermists alike have always purchased some, or all of their materials and or tools. In most cases customizing them to fit their own methods.

    I know you'd like to educate us all on the devil that is "taxidermy" but you've really done nothing more than describe "life" in general. And let's be more specific, you're life in general. Someone here already said you have to make sacrifices to achieve success and I would agree with Kerby and WA, that includes evolution.

    Weather it's art, taxidermy, people skills or life in general it really all boils down to what a man can do and what a man can't do with what he's given. Either he can create art in all facets of life or he can't. It's usually those who can't that [email protected] the most.
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
    NMJagdHunter, George and Kerby Ross like this.
  16. Kerby Ross

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

    Richard C

    **I remember when a bad deer was $250.00 and a good one $450.00, what does a good one go for now that a bad one is $640.00 ? You guys all know you "can't get that price in your area" , so your kind of screwed.**

    Because one is a business man ($640) and the other is just a talented taxidermist who does not understand how to run a business - CLASSIC example. :) :) :)

    Too many taxidermist have tried to justify higher taxidermy prices with higher quality. Just proves the point that taxidermists don't know squat about running a business. LOL

    Do you really think that price of a hamburger determines how good it tastes? So why would the price of mounting a deer head determine the quality? You should be doing taxidermy to make money. :)


    JL and Steven Klee like this.
  17. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    landdepot -Steven, I'm sorry to categorize, but guys like you never seem to "get it" about the "artist" moniker. There are many artists in this industry. Few of them ever thought that their talent was actually something that could not be taught. All the fine arts schools out there won't amount to one whit if you don't have that inborn talent. Now perhaps you thing Picasso was one of the "masters" but I think he was a con job for the gullible. I see quality work coming from people who have trouble drawing a paycheck simply because they aren't able to do bad work. I can't say that for some. As Joe Coombs once told me when I told him I was an "average taxidermist", he told me I'd hadn't looked at what "average taxidermy work" looks like. Richard Christoforo once told me that today's taxidermist are just like the ceramic shop people, except they don't have hair on their castings. As far as having "art" hanging on my wall, I have old saws, hand planes, jars, bottles and a few mass produced sculptures sitting on ledges below my game heads. I even have one particularly neat piece of driftwood hanging there and I surely didn't do it either.
  18. You know guys, this whole dam thread , me included have taking what should be no more than just
    Congratulations in order.
    It doesn’t matter, why he is retiring at all. Bit more than it matters, why we all keep at.
    Have we really come to a point as the most intelligent species on the planet. That we dont have an ounce of tolerance for anybody at all. What the hell has happened to just respect. Probably all of us dont agree with most of our customers views either, but we don’t start chastising them. The second somebody says any dam thing we dont agree, or beleive in. We got to start criticizing, preaching the error of their ways. Good lord people come on its a friggen taxidermy issue. An issue that no DAM body gives a rats **** about other than taxidermist. And trust me no body gives a dam outside of taxidermy .
    Not a dam one of us is ever gonna sit as a pillar of the community for his choice of occupation! I dont care how well known the shop is or you are. Your still just a local taxidermist.
    The closest any of us ever got to celebrity status is Russell ( mounted in Alaska) and that didnt go over well with the public either!
    So just wish George good luck and stop worrying about what he believes or don’t believe. Neither one has no dam effect on how WE conduct your business. We all our going to do it or way come hell or High water anyways!

    Now go get your ropes, pick me a good tree, but please make sure they are stong I dont want a botched hanging.
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
    Monte likes this.
  19. byrdman

    byrdman Well-Known Member

    most taxidermists ir any artists for that matter are kind of loners who enjoy working alone so when you then have to deal with people it can get you out of your comfort zone. I myself have a collection of over 300 mounts but besides myself maybe only half dozen people have seen them . most of my clients are " mail order" but for a handfull of locals/ buddies.Tax net has been a blessing to comunicate and share pictures so George if you stay out of your shop please dont stay away from here going on 5 years now "coleman free" thanks to your persistant advice prob saved me over a thousand dollars plus how many years of health and removed the fire threat thanks for all your dribs and drabs ........
    landdepot likes this.
  20. Steven Klee

    Steven Klee Steven Klee Studios

    Reading comprehension 101.... I guess some are, and some aren't..

    Take it easy Glenn, It's just healthy debate, a rebuttal of the original poster's "preachings" as "YOU" might call it.

    George and I have debated on more than one occasion, and thank GOD for it, as he makes me think about my beliefs and before I speak. Through all of our disagreements I've never thought of unfriending him on social media, or any where else for that matter. Any of us who've been here long enough to know George appreciate his contributions, and of course I wish him a blessed retirement.......I think he knows that.
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
    buckfever* likes this.