I am presenting the following information because I have
met a lot of hunters who are disappointed with the taxidermy that is on their
walls. I can identify with that emotion. Many years ago, I filled a pronghorn tag
that was rare to draw and I took that pronghorn to a well respected "award
I was not happy with the result. I instantly began doing all of my own big game
taxidermy and in turn, it has played a large part in why I have started The
Autumn Addiction Taxidermy.
There are a lot of taxidermists around. Skill levels range
from very, very good to very, very poor. There is no test to pass, education
required, or minimum skill level requirement to receive a license to do
taxidermy; you simply purchase it. It's hard to know the quality of
craftsmanship that you are paying for with all these grandiose claims of
"award winning" this and "Master" that, especially since I've seen taxidermists
buy mounts from other taxidermists and display them in their shops as if
they had done the mount themselves. I've also seen taxidermists enter terrible,
God-awful, so-bad-you-can-smell-it ten feet away (literally) mounts in
competitions and come away with awards simply because nobody else entered a
mount in that particular category. Technically, that's "award winning" but that
label wouldn't make me feel any better about having spent the money on it. And
lately there is a trend toward giving every mount that enters a competition a
ribbon. That's right, there are no losers, just like in T-ball. Taxidermy
Associations are run by volunteers and the associations need money to stay
afloat. They don't want to offend their sugar daddies. Over the past few
years, I've seen an extremely bad taxidermist come away with red ribbons while
some very good taxidermy pieces received those same red ribbons. That makes it
all effectively worth zero to me. Taxidermy judges often have no integrity nor
credibility anymore. So beware the sham of "award winning" and
"Master" braggadocio. Some are. Some are in name only. Some aren't
In this economy, if people even consider having taxidermy
done, I understand that the first considerations are price and location.
Everybody wants the "best deal" and with gasoline prices being what they are,
nobody wants the added expense of driving a great distance. However, there are
other considerations, such as what the mount will look like and how long it will
last. You put a lot of money into your hunting license, tag, scouting, gasoline,
ammunition, gear, and probably meat processing. And aside from some of your
gear, how much of that will you still be looking at five, ten or fifteen years
from now? If it's worth keeping on the wall, isn't it worth doing it right?
Keep in mind that a taxidermist who
is using quality parts and services, including tanning and shipping, will
have spent $150 to $250 out of pocket on your deer shoulder mount, not including his or her own
labor, and much more on a larger animal or a life-size mount. Think on
that for a moment. If your taxidermist only charges you $150 for a deer
shoulder mount, he hasn't even paid his own out-of-pocket expenses, unless
of course, he has cut some corners, like not having the hide tanned. In a
humid room these mounts smell like carion. I know this because people have asked me if I can repair these mounts.
They can't be fixed, only re-mounted with a new cape, which you will have to
pay $100 or much higher for, in addition to the full price of a shoulder
mount. You will have doubled your price in an attempt to save $50 to $150.
If you spend $465 at one of these "best price in town"
taxidermists for a deer or pronghorn shoulder mount, that taxidermist has either not used quality
materials or is not
putting the time and care into your mount that it deserves, and this WILL be evident in a side-by-side comparison with a good mount.
Personally, I spend a minimum of
two and a half complete days on every deer shoulder mount. If a
taxidermist is charging you $465 and trying to make a living, I promise
you, your mount is not getting that attention to detail, and it WILL be
evident in the end result. That's not to say that perfection can be bought
at any price, because any taxidermist who takes his or her work seriously can
always find an aspect of any mount that they believe they could have done better
When evaluating a taxidermist's work,
the bottom line is you want it to look pleasing, not stink, and make you happy
when you see it. In short, it shouldn't look like a wild-eyed cartoon character
or like it was beat about the head with a fish whacker.
The ears shouldn't look like big greasy potato chips. The eyes should look
symmetrical and realistic, the cape should be firmly attached around the antler
pedicles, the nose should look realistic and not be filled in with black
spackle, and you shouldn't be able to read the word "Kellogs" on your
"ear liner" through the ear skin. And believe me, a taxidermist's age or how long he's been in
business has absolutely nothing to do
with the quality of his mount. Like I said earlier, a surprising number of
people don't mind the look of highway bumper-thumper on their wall. If you
aren't one of them, keep reading.
There are a number of
very, very good taxidermists in Oregon. It's worth it to take the time and
search them out. You plan on having that buck on your wall for the rest of your
life, right? What exactly is it that you want to see when you look at it? You
can start to figure that out by looking around on the internet. Google-search taxidermists in your area. Follow this link to Taxidermy.net
and review the websites of other taxidermists in Oregon and around the country. Don't stop with the
first two or three websites. It will quickly become clear who's worth your money
and who's not. Don't bother with online forum recommendations or reviews.
Everybodys' opinion of what is "good taxidermy" or even
"acceptable taxidermy" varies. This is about you and your trophy, not
what somebody you don't even know believes to be true about something he may know
You can start by
clicking my "photo gallery" button at the top of this page
and spend 3 minutes looking at my work. Every mount that I do includes all of the
same steps I would take on any competition piece. My goal is to
sharpen my skills through practice and repetition so that when I do enter a
mount in a competition, I am as good at it as I can be. The only way to do that
is to take advantage of every opportunity to improve, which I do with the
completion of every mount, every year.
If you like the quality
of my work, it would be an honor for me to mount your trophy for you. If not,
find a taxidermist whose work excites you. Don't get stuck on insignificant
price differences or variation in turnaround time. You probably don't want what
a taxidermist is giving you back in a three-month turnaround.