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Thread: a word about taxidermy in Alaska -

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    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    Default a word about taxidermy in Alaska -

    Folks in Alaska often complain about the time it takes to get mounts done. Sometimes (if the mount takes more than 12-14 months) this is a valid complaint. I would like to perhaps shed some light on one reason why most taxidermists up here do not have a less than 8 month turn around time. It generally (not always) boils down to one word....Tanning.

    Every skin that is going to be made into a mount has to be tanned. A taxidermist can either do the tanning themselves (a process meant for shops with more than one employee), OR they have to send the hides to be tanned at a professional tannery. In the lower 48 - this is not a huge problem, but for Alaska Taxidermists it can be.

    Alaska has one 'major' tannery, capable of handling a large number of skins - at least I think they are still in business. Yes, there are a few taxidermists who offer in house tanning - PRO Taxidermy is one of those - for their own customers. However, a majority of taxidermists must ship ALL their skins OUTSIDE to be tanned - and this is most commonly done by freight truck in 3-4 batches a yr to try to keep expenses down. Time wise, this adds about 6-8 weeks to the length of time a mount can be completed. Add that to the 4-8 month time the hides are actually at the tannery and you have hides unavailable to mount for about 6 months or more.

    So, that mount that takes 12 months to complete...actually REALLY only took 6 months!

    Just an FYI - not an excuse by any means - because if your taxidermist tells you they have a 12 month turn around, then they SHOULD have a 12 month turn around.

    Juli
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    I'm not sure I get the point of your post? I rarely hear complaints from folks who are told a mount will take 12 months and it takes 13. Most complaints are from guys that are having trouble even getting in contact with the taxidermist when their mount is months over due.

    Case in point, I'm waiting on a lynx skill I was told would be done last November.


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    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    Someone was asking me the other day about why tanning took so long (in general)...so I explained it to them..Then thought that maybe a lot of people don't realize the added time it takes in Alaska (compared to outside taxidermists) when it comes just to the tanning of an item.

    I agree that any issues regarding overdue mounts are first and foremost the the taxidermist's fault...either for not being up front about how long the mount is REALLY going to take, for the sake of not turning business away or scaring off a customer, or in staying in contact with their customer when 'stuff' happens (and it does)...

    Honesty up front is always the best policy.
    Taxidermy IS art!
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    Your mount is more than a trophy, it's a memory. Relive The Memory!

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Juli,
    Isn't Alpha history?
    Trophy Taxidermy in Palmer does his own tanning in house, FYI.
    BK

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    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    I don't know if Alpha is or not...that is the word on the street, but I have not contacted them...don't need to because I would never use them, ever. LOL

    Yes, Tim over at Trophy does tanning as well, but not for other taxidermists in large quantities, to my knowledge - I wish he did, because he does a nice job!
    Taxidermy IS art!
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    Your mount is more than a trophy, it's a memory. Relive The Memory!

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    I have found over the years that No matter if the taxidermy operation is in Alaska or the lower 48 Or even in Africa.

    It all boils down to How many projects the taxidermist has in THAT year ( It does change Drasticly some times), also how committed the taxidermist is to his clients work , ( does he have another job, Do they only operate on 5 day work week, How much of their OWN stuff they mount, Ect.)

    Unfortunately a lot of us have let taxidermy invade ALL of our normal lives & most of the time we work 7 days a week, Cant go hunting or fishing for more than 2 days because we feel the need to get back to the shop & work.

    In Most cases it has a DRASTIC affect on OUR families aswell.

    We get phone calls EVERY day including sunday & if we have clients over seas or back east we get 5 am & on calls of people just checking on their mounts.

    We ( Atleast I ) work most Every day till after Midnight because Late evening is the only time we have NO interuptions.

    Not complaining , I am used to it . But this job doesn't come with All roses.

    On the other hand MOST of us do not make a lot of money in this business , so it takes ingenuity to save money where we can ,, Like saving all of your send out capes & skins at one time so we can save on Shipping costs.

    Anouther is ordering all of our forms at one time ( usually during the Summer Sales time) From outside sometimes taking Weeks to get here.

    When we order Thousands of dollars at one time to get the 12 % off from the supplier & to be able to ship more at one time, Again saving shipping costs.

    There have been LOTS of problems getting Tanneries to get skins back in a timely fashion. Alpha was one of those.

    That's why several years ago I stopped sending Any skins to ANY tannery, ( Of coarse I have the equipment & the experience to tan anything myself).


    But Mostly it is the taxidermist that didn't get the skins sent out in the first place.

    Or they let LIFE get in the way of progress & they spend weeks away hunting, fishing, Guiding or just vacationing.

    EVERYONE needs to get a break away from the every day grind or you get burned out VERY quickly , But when you get back to work you have to gain ground on what you didn't get done while you were away or next thing you know you are 3 or 4 years behind.

    Ive heard folks say, Well it takes a long time to produce show quality mounts. I Say FUEY on that.

    Mostly Ever mount I have ever won an award or a show with was mounted in ONE evening, & finished in One more & almost EVERY animal I competed with was a customer.

    That way I was getting a Project done for a client instead of wasting the time on my own mounts.

    It all comes down to DEDICATION to your customers.

    As I said , I have been in taxidermy studios all over the world & its all about the same thing.


    They are either VERY efficient in producing mounts for their customers , or they spend TOO much time away from their business & are way behind .

    RJ Simington
    PRO Taxidermy
    Custom Taxidermy, Experience the difference !!

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    Default a word about taxidermy in Alaska -

    Quote Originally Posted by JuliW View Post
    Someone was asking me the other day about why tanning took so long (in general)...so I explained it to them..Then thought that maybe a lot of people don't realize the added time it takes in Alaska (compared to outside taxidermists) when it comes just to the tanning of an item.

    I agree that any issues regarding overdue mounts are first and foremost the the taxidermist's fault...either for not being up front about how long the mount is REALLY going to take, for the sake of not turning business away or scaring off a customer, or in staying in contact with their customer when 'stuff' happens (and it does)...

    Honesty up front is always the best policy.
    Ahh, makes sense!

    I didn't even ask when my lynx would be done, didn't really care because the taxidermist came highly recommended. As I was leaving he said it would be 6 months. I told my self I would check on it in a year or so. I ended up checking on it at about the 10 month mark because the guy closed up shop! I got my mount right at the 1 year mark and it was well worth waiting for, just wasn't sure why he would offer 6 months when I didn't even ask?

    I totally agree that tanning takes a long time to get back, I've had a few things done by tanneries outside and none have taken less than 3 months just for tanning. I'm ok with that though because the never offered a shorter delivery time, I knew what to expect up front.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bkmail View Post
    Juli,
    Isn't Alpha history?
    Trophy Taxidermy in Palmer does his own tanning in house, FYI.
    BK
    Based on the amount of work alpha turned down from me and a buddy, along with several forum members, I wouldn't be surprised.

    AK customer service strikes again???


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    Member JR2's Avatar
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    I heard that Alpha only takes stuff from taxidermists now, least that was the story got a while back.
    2007 Kingfisher 2825 - Stor Fisk

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  10. #10
    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by limon32 View Post
    Ahh, makes sense!

    I didn't even ask when my lynx would be done, didn't really care because the taxidermist came highly recommended. As I was leaving he said it would be 6 months. I told my self I would check on it in a year or so. I ended up checking on it at about the 10 month mark because the guy closed up shop! I got my mount right at the 1 year mark and it was well worth waiting for, just wasn't sure why he would offer 6 months when I didn't even ask?


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    The response of the taxidermist is definitely poor business practice. Even if he was being honest (or what he thought was honest at the time) about the turn around time, he SHOULD have called you as soon as he knew it would be more than 6 months.
    Juli
    Taxidermy IS art!
    www.alaskawildliferugs.com
    Your mount is more than a trophy, it's a memory. Relive The Memory!

  11. #11
    Member Hughiam's Avatar
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    Alpha is backlogged, I spoke with them yesterday. They are only taking in marine mammals per their answering machine, nothing else. I don't think they are "history", I think they are turning work away in order to catch up and have reasonable turn around times. Teaching someone to run a wheel, correctly takes time and I think there has been some staff changes there. I saw the same problem with other tanneries down below. You lose a good flesher, you lose time.

  12. #12
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    Been doing taxidermy now for 34 years. My turn around time is less then 6 months on every mount I do. That is in large part because of my local tanner that I'm fortunate to have that does a fantastic job and gets my hides back in less then 6 weeks. This allows me to guarantee all of my customers a 6 month (usually much less) turnaround. You do have to stay on top of each job. There is NO reason that a mount should take a year to complete even if the tannery takes 6 months to get your skin tanned. And skull cleaning shouldn't take more then 3 months at the most. If it is taking longer,then your skull is sitting around doing nothing at all.




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