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Do You Really Care?

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by George, Nov 20, 2019.

  1. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    I think that's an honest question for any professional taxidermist.
    As this is deer season, people keep asking me if I miss taxidermy at this time of year. I just have to laugh because of ALL times of year in a taxidermy shop, this one is the LEAST one that I miss. Far too many nights ran into mornings and longer days this time of year for almost 40 years that I provided a full service shop.
    Each year I still managed to be surprised over conversations, advertisements and remarks I hear from the shops in the local area.
    Let me say something so I'm perfectly clear: I loved the whitetail deer. I still think it is the most magical and magnificent creature to walk the world I live in. As such, I studied it from the first time I encountered one. I learned the biology, the science, the habitat, the nutrition, the actions and the reactions of this animal. I never, EVER, let a whitetail mount get out of my shop that I would not have put up on my own wall.
    Sadly, I don't see that in many claiming to be us anymore. We seem saturated with poor business people with poor work ethic and little pride in what they do. I once remarked to Joe Coombs that I was just an average taxidermist. Joe snapped back that I obviously hadn't been out in the field much (I admitted that) and I have no clue as to how bad "average" taxidermy looked. Sadly, he was correct.
    Next to taxidermist, hunters are some of the dumbest people on the planet. Bubba hauls his beautiful animal around in the back of his pickup with the bed covered in mud and blood with temperatures reaching 75 degrees. He cuts the throat to "let it bleed out" or he drags it half a mile behind the 4-wheeler. He shoots it in the neck and uses a 12 inch Bowie knife to slit the ear to hang his tag on it. He (or his butcher) use a dull chainsaw to skin it out. And then he says to his buddy, "A good taxidermist can fix that." And the worst part is that some taxidermists actually believe that.
    It was MY decision and MY standards that I never mounted an animal in a trap or with an arrow stuck in it. I never did unnatural poses that would have my name on it. I discouraged open mouth or bugling forms as this animal was stuck in perpetuity with that expression that most hunters quickly tire of hanging mute on their walls. I cautioned about pedestals being a piece of furniture and I explained the issues of wall pedestals. I explained to them about the hazards of dermistids and that once it left my shop, the length that mount would look good depended solely on the care it got when it got to their house. For several years I supplied 3 oz. bottles of permethrin and instructed them where to find replacements and how to apply the spray. No animal ever left the shop with an exposed back panel and stapled hide showing. I covered every mount with a cardboard shield cut to size and emblazoned with my shop decal. Hunters were never allowed to bring animals into my shop but had a large treated tarp outside with a sign directing them to bring their tags inside and that I'd retrieve their deer when I was ready to cape it. There were no uncapped skulls on the floor and no blood puddling up. After I finished caping, capping, and placing the hide in the freezer, the stainless work table was washed down before the next deer was put there. My shop was always neat and tidy and there were NEVER any smells of rotted meat and scraps. (There may have been lots of Bondo and fiberglass fumes, but not rotted meat.) My shop was exceptionally well lit and they knew they could bring their families into it without worries.
    I know what some of you are thinking: he's OCD and senile. Perhaps guilty of both but I simply loved and respected the deer I worked on. I was raised to appreciate life and respect the animal that you took life from. It was a part of me I never forgot. Now in my old age, I wonder if there are any of you left who care like I did.
  2. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    George, the only answer I can give to your question is that I absolutely do care but maybe not to the same extent as you or in the same way. I to clean up the skinning table after each critter and always cover up what I am working on when the next customer comes in, they don't need to see that. My shop is small and it is possible to have a pile of deer heads on the floor awaiting their time on the skinning table but they remain under a sheet until then. I always receive compliments on the fact that my shop smells good, they seem surprised.

  3. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    I'm guilty as charged. Too much work, too little help, not enough hours in a day...and the hell part is...I don't even need the money, I suppose I'm a glutton for punishment. I have one son who's a taxidermist. I've tried to steer him in other directions, to no avail. I hope he will eventually find a career that he's passionate about other than taxidermy...it's a cruel way to make a living.
  4. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    As I agree with most said , my shop work area is very clean and things are put back in place each day . I have a skinning room that is cleaned and bleached at the end of each day and is where all critters are brought into when being dropped off . I may skin 5 deer heads out and I’m not going to stop skinning heads to cap rack off , I do wipe blood off table and such between each deer . But my routine is to measure, skin/ cape out remove all major chunks of flesh and meat from cape , punch code cape , bag tag and freeze. All skinned heads are put in a kiddie pool in skinning room , after all capes are removed I go back and cut , clean and salt skull caps , I then clean and bleach tables and floor in skinning room . We all do things different, and what works for us . Even tho we all think our way is the best , it’s just an opinion and you know what they say bout opinions. A mount when done right, captures a moment in time , if it be a bugling sika or elk , or a fleaming deer . I see nothing wrong with mounting it that way if that’s how the hunter remember it . I do agree on not mounting anything that is not natural to the animal likes squirrels bowling and shooting bows . That to me is desecrating to said animal and I won’t mount anything like that . I won’t let anything go out my shop door that won’t take at least a 3rd in the masters category at a show and is my garuntee . George you say you put a pcs of card board on back of deer head with shop logo and is your thing and is kinda cool but just because I don’t, dont make you any better, that’s your thing , to me it’s a waste of time and material as it’s never seen . I put a B card and date on back of mine , but that’s me and I’m sure you don’t like that . If we all were the same and did things the same then people like us would have nothing to bitch about . Have a great season folks and George I’m in Goldsboro MD not real far from you in Delaware, unless you moved , you should stop by sometime.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2019
    Micah Howards likes this.
  5. Dave York

    Dave York Well-Known Member

    Probably the biggest problem many of us deal with is not enough room. But the more room we have the more crap we save.
  6. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    ditto what George said except for the "neat and tidy thing ".
    I too don't care for the open mouth deer + elk or deer lifesize , jumping over a fence style. I like contented mount poses that you don't get tired of looking at, that when you look at the deer he is looking back at you.
  7. The ones that don't care usually don't last it's just to much work for them. They try to make a career out of putting down the other guy. Solid work is not just a refection on you but the entire industry. It's 2weeks before gun season here and I'm booked for the year while the guys that know everything are still waiting for the phone to ring
    Micah Howards likes this.
  8. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    LOL! Yep! How true.
    swampfox2 and Micah Howards like this.
  9. swampfox2

    swampfox2 Well-Known Member

    But, it is a real good side job !
    Micah Howards likes this.
  10. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    It has its moments!
  11. drob

    drob Active Member

    George,I agree with everything you said except the part about your '' old age '' !
  12. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    LOL I'm going to surprise you one day and do just what you invited me to do. As for "wasting time", I've always felt that no one actually wasted it, they simply didn't know how to utilize it when they had it. I saved panels from every big McKenzie and Van Dyke boxes and cutting a back panel took all of 5 minutes and 9 one inch drywall screws. Many people argue just as you have that "no one sees it", but I know I do. I also know I see it when I take my mounts down for cleaning every year. I know that tanning oils will leech out on to drywall and leave a stain that only Kilz will remove. It just gave a "professional" look to my mounts that I liked -sort of like covering the seam on the off-side of a fish. Just a habit I turned into a step of the process. I'm not trying to tell anyone else how to do THEIR deer, but if you ever come across one of mine, you'll be able to tell I did it very quickly.
    13 point and Micah Howards like this.
  13. swampfox2

    swampfox2 Well-Known Member

    It is funny how when you first start you think you have plenty room and it don't take long before we have to add on.
    Micah Howards likes this.
  14. AZ~Rich

    AZ~Rich " Africa" never fails to satisfy

    I’m with you George. Being a small enterprise my work must reflect my beliefs as to what constitutes a fine quality piece of art. It says you truly care about what you do and my customers totally relate to this. I go a little further and make a paper template of the back for each mount which is used to trace out on a neutral (grey or charcoal) sheet of felt. This is hot glued to to wood back leaving ~1/4-3/8” from the edge. I then hot glue my business card to the upper center. It makes me feel good about what I am delivering and that’s reason enough. Nothing wrong about not going to those levels but imo it’s all about what you want to go out the door.
    drob, George and Micah Howards like this.
  15. George you would make a great judge at the world show,have you ever though about it
    becoming a judge ?
  16. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    I'm supposed to be listed on the NTA Judges list as I paid dues to be there. With the fix the NTA seems to be in today, I'm not sure if there ARE any records as such. I'm not very politically correct, however, and I'm probably not a good choice.
  17. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    You would be a GOOD choice George because you would tell it like it is and not worry about being politically correct. If the taxidermist is offended by your critiques of their mount, as your quote says, "by all means, avoid it."
    Micah Howards likes this.
  18. I guess im 50/50 with that list.
    I keep the shop clean, and clutter drives me nuts, so there never is any.
    I dont put any thing on the back side of my own mounts, so customers dont get any either.
    Heads are layed in a kidde pool and skinned and put up as they come in. No blood on the floor with a pool.
    I do the best I can do on every mount , ever head DOES NOT mount up the same way. Some have issues that are just not going to allow a perfect mount, must less a third place ribbon. Replacing skins on said deer is not always an option. You work with what you got. Doing the best of your ability is all that can be expected of any one.
    I also discourage open mouth mounts simply because of the dust that builds up over time in there. Hardly anyone ever cleans their crap.
    Unatural drama doesn't bother me if thats what they want , and willing to pay what I want to do it. I may be silently grumbbling, but smiling.
    I'm currently mounting a 11'7" gator with a bobcat in its mouth (plausible) , but the bobcat has a duck in its mouth. I dont like it, looks out of place. Dont beleive that could ever really happen, but the 6 grand, I charged him, I love, so im smiling.
    I know im not the best taxidermist in this country, however my repeat customers think I am. Who am I to tell them any differnt lol. 1113191428.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019
  19. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I used sheet cork on the backs to cover the backboard and stapled hide. I, like many others on hear, wouldn't mount an animal for myself that was perpetually yawning or scratching etc. I enjoy seeing these mounts at someone else's home or shop as I'm witnessing a glimpse it time, however, if I had to look at that glimpse every day it would drive me crazy. I did a drinking deer once and it still looks great on my wall for a few minutes and then I can't help but think of how water logged he must be in one perpetual drinking session all these years.

    For my own mounts, I like to mount them in a relaxed, natural pose. Strangely this doesn't apply to flying mounts though.
  20. mislynx

    mislynx Active Member

    OMG it should have had grass in the ducks bill and a tadpole eating the grass
    NMJagdHunter likes this.