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Thread: Why does taxidermy take so long?

  1. #1
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    Default Why does taxidermy take so long?

    I know zero about the taxidermy business but often wondered why it takes 1,2,3,4 or more YEARS (not months) to get animals back? Obviously there is the old "you get what you pay for". "Excellence takes time". "It takes a long time cuz it's worth it".
    Is there a point when the taxidermist says, No, I am 5 years behind schedule, I don't accept critters at this time. Maybe it's a huge pain in the butt to hire help...

  2. #2

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    Skinning,fleshing, waiting for tannery, and of course the actual mounting of the animal takes time. I started doing fish replica mounts a couple years ago and it has taken me a couple years to complete 3 fish! I put a lot more detail into my fish than any fish taxidermist could afford but it takes a lot more time than you would think.....especially if the taxidermist doesn't have much help and does the work himself. Obviously you get what you pay for and if a taxidermist doesn't take time to put in all the details you may get something back that you are embarrassed to show family and friends!

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    If a reputable taxidermist was taking much more than a year, I'd start asking questions. 9-12 months seems like a reasonable turnaround time based on my experience (as a customer, not as a taxidermist).

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    There's a lot of different types of taxidermists. Some are hobbyists running a one man band as a side gig. Some are money making production shops complete with hired help.

    Some of the wait is just process time- tannery, salting, drying, etc. Some of them are just crappy businessmen who couldn't schedule their way out of a sack....

    I've found looking at a taxi's Facebook page if they have one will give you a good idea about the turnaround time you can expect and the throughput of his/her shop. Looking at finished pieces will tell you if the quality is there.

    I'd be leery of dropping work off to a guy with a 3 or 4 year backlog- I just wouldn't do it...lot of downsides there.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Member oakman's Avatar
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    I've never waited longer than a year for a mount.

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    The one guy that I really respect for both his quality and his business sense, guarantees under a year.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    Sponsor protaxidermy's Avatar
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    Receiving Fleshing, Tanning, Prepping the skin & form, any Alterations , Mounting & Finishing actually only takes a Couple of weeks, unless it is a Elephant or Lifesize diorama piece with several animals.

    That being said, Now you add that up times the 250 or so pieces that some of us take in each year, ( In my case , I have 2 studios so Double that number).

    Anouther thing is some guys waiting till they have a whole pallet of skins to send to the tannery, ( This will automaticly put them behind the ball).

    Most all taxidermist also send their RUGS out to a Wholesaler to rug & in some cases do the whole project because they don't have the equipment or knowledge to addequetly do the rugging.
    I my case ALL work is done in MY STUDIOS from tanning to finishing.

    The other thing to remember is that we are family people that experience the same problems as any other business people, such as our relatives dying or being hurt ourselves by stupid accidents in the shop that bring production to a halt for a little while.


    All I can say is be Patient & in Most cases the outcome will be worth the wait.

    ALOT of us actually do turn work away & when we do it usually makes hard feelings towards the taxidermist in the future.

    There are several Shady taxidermists in every state & Alaska is not left out .

    Do your homework before you drop off your animal.

    Does the taxidermist have a show room with work THEY have done themselves ?

    Does the taxidermist have an actual legal Contract or do you just get a project # & nothing in writing.

    What is their CURRENT Completion time ?

    Do they send their skins Out to a tannery or do your skins stay in their studio the whole time ?

    Do they have any accreditation in their field such as Competition awards & recognition from members in their field of work, such as National Taxidermists Association, or the World shows,


    such as the NTA Award of Excellence or a Masters award from a State taxidermists association. Lots of us work VERY hard to attain these & it is not just given away like a state fair type of show.


    Is there a Website or Facebook or what ever page where you can look at their work before you even visit their studio.

    With just a little pre drop off checking you can find the right taxidermist that will fill your individual needs, & in most cases will give you a good working relationship for the future.


    Just my 2 cents,

    RJ Simington
    PRO Taxidermy
    www.protaxidermy.com
    Custom Taxidermy, Experience the difference !!

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    As a taxidermist myself I will second what protaxidermist said. If I had only your mount to work on it would be done in weeks mainly dependent on species and "dry" time. Quality does build a reputation and the quality taxidermist will have clients and be booked out a minimum of 6 months. If I was a customer I would be wary of the taxidermist that was offering rush service.

    The other piece to the puzzle is not all taxidermist have the equipment and/or capability to tan their own specimens, and when I say tan I mean actually wet tan, shave, oil... properly and not just a dry rub preservative. This can be an important question for you as the consumer to know what you are getting, If they do it themselves like my shop, are they doing a commercial grade job of it like it should be done, if they send their hides out to any of the commercial tanneries this typically adds 3-8 months of wait time for the hides to be returned to the taxidermist which adds additional cost (shipping...). This is why I try to educate my clients, show them the process and equipment we use. There are a lot of great taxidermists out there, and then there are some that are hobbyist, fly by night... be comfortable that you know what you are paying for and getting when you are dropping your animal off!

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    Interesting info. Thanks folks

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    Member ProHunterAK's Avatar
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    I agree 100% with ProTaxidermy as I have worked with RJ first hand with repairing a rug that another local taxidermist destroyed while "attempting to create a work of art" Taxidermist #1 (cant mention names here) had my rug for well over a year and change after being paid.. once I was on my way home from Afghanistan I called to get the status of it (dropped off in May 2011) it was now going on Sept 2012. Once received the rug I was horrified (tail was hacked off, several nasty slip marks, piss poor stretching and it honestly looked like an novice attempted to do their first rug). RJ stepped up and repaired what he could free of charge and in a few weeks time frame (having to remount everything the prior hack messed up.) Now RJ gets all my furs (hes finishing my brown bear and wifes fox right now).

    "Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons."

  11. #11

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    I believe from experience that taxidermists take on new jobs because they need the money, and they take on more than they can physically complete in one year, period. Then, they find themselves overwhelmed by the number of hides that need to be tanned and the variety of animals that cant be tanned together so they stack 'em (or ship them out to MT) and wait for the pile to even out for the most efficient processing and sorting. By the time the average taxi gets around to actually putting their mark on a job, they start to prioritize their preferences and soon the average mount gets dropped to the bottom and below bottom of the list. Easy ones may be first or last, interesting ones get the middle, trophies that might serve as their displays at shows get done first...etc. A year or more later when they get a call from an ancy customer they start to dread the commitment but eventually get around to it.

    It's an age-old story, no mystery IMO.

    Want to test the theory...pay in full in advance and wait until you get the call that your mount is ready. If you pay upfront you can bet you wont see that sucker for more than a year. Just dont expect that first come first served is they way AK Taxis work.

    I agree with some of what Simon says, you get what you pay for and you should do your homework. If you want fast, dont expect much. If you want cheap, you'll get it. If you want quality, plan to wait until the professional is done and dont bug them too much. If you have high expectations for turnaround, you're asking too much already.

    Awards and certificates dont mean shat to me. If the taxi does good work and you like the reputation and delivery, wait for your trophy and get it when you get it. If you want awards and certificates, go to a hungry taxi who promotes himself and his work for the sake of building a reputation and business. Some of the best taxidermists I know in AK haven't won squat for awards and may not have any fancy certificates...but are worth the wait.

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    Member Milo's Avatar
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    I don't believe for second that it is because "Excellence takes time." The bad taxidermy I've received all took longer than the good. I know that if I look at my own profession, the people that are bad at their job are certainly slower than the ones that are good.

    I just expect to be given an honest, good faith estimate.
    Death is like an old whore in a bar--I'll buy her a drink but I won't go upstairs with her.

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    As a retired taxidermist I can tell you that some of the best taxidermists I know, and I know alot of them, have very long backlogs due to the volume of projects they have to do. I started doing everything (mammals, birds, fish, etc) and later specialized in fish. I consistently had a two year backlog. This was because my clients wanted ME to do the work and really didn't care how long it took. I charged way on the upper end of pricing for fish mounts, and delivered competition quality work. Even when I tried to turn away their work because it would take so long, they would want it done anyway regardless of the timeframe. My mentor and good friend, a world champion fish taxidermist, referred to it as "the artist factor." Some customers want a piece of art by a specific artist. It matters not the cost nor the wait time. They want what they want and are willing to wait for it and pay top dollar for it. Making the assumption that a long turnaround time equates to a poor taxidermist/businessman is sometimes a mistake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redtail View Post
    As a retired taxidermist I can tell you that some of the best taxidermists I know, and I know alot of them, have very long backlogs due to the volume of projects they have to do. I started doing everything (mammals, birds, fish, etc) and later specialized in fish. I consistently had a two year backlog. This was because my clients wanted ME to do the work and really didn't care how long it took. I charged way on the upper end of pricing for fish mounts, and delivered competition quality work. Even when I tried to turn away their work because it would take so long, they would want it done anyway regardless of the timeframe. My mentor and good friend, a world champion fish taxidermist, referred to it as "the artist factor." Some customers want a piece of art by a specific artist. It matters not the cost nor the wait time. They want what they want and are willing to wait for it and pay top dollar for it. Making the assumption that a long turnaround time equates to a poor taxidermist/businessman is sometimes a mistake.
    well stated redtail. Sometimes the taxi actually tries to turn people away, and they refuse because they want the quality or style 'that' taxi produces. They are willing to wait. As long as the taxi is up front and honest about turn around times and the customer is ok with it, all is good and fair.

    Also - in one man studios things happen. A car accident or other unexpected injury or illness (either the taxi him/herself or a family member)can put a taxi behind. Communication, of course, is key, in these types of situations.
    Taxidermy IS art!
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    There are many taxidermists out there. While each have there style, a significant element of my taxidermist selection process involves taxidermist availability. We can talk about the end game and how they win awards, are perfectionists. And then there is this illusion that you can bring your animal in, and they prefer to skin it for you, so that I the hunter don't mess up their trophy with incompetent cutting and hide care. But how about the start? Example: So I catch a critter. I call a few taxidermists. No answer. No answer. No return phone call. A few days later, a solemn apology and turns out they were on a hunt or otherwise out of town. I respect that. No worries. I've sent business to five local businesses. While the others have received some work, Knights with their normal business hours has been there to take the animals.

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    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wet eNuf View Post
    There are many taxidermists out there. While each have there style, a significant element of my taxidermist selection process involves taxidermist availability. We can talk about the end game and how they win awards, are perfectionists. And then there is this illusion that you can bring your animal in, and they prefer to skin it for you, so that I the hunter don't mess up their trophy with incompetent cutting and hide care. But how about the start? Example: So I catch a critter. I call a few taxidermists. No answer. No answer. No return phone call. A few days later, a solemn apology and turns out they were on a hunt or otherwise out of town. I respect that. No worries. I've sent business to five local businesses. While the others have received some work, Knights with their normal business hours has been there to take the animals.
    That is a legitimate concern, Wet eNuf. One that many taxis must meet head on, at times... especially one man/woman shops. Knights is a big taxidermy business. They deal in volume and have the employees available to have regular and after business hours.

    From my own personal experience, I can tell you it is not easy being gone from the shop for extended trips (week long, usually)- but I also understand that for my own sanity, I need to separate myself from it, too. It is a fine line...living life beyond business ownership. LOL

    That said, I am sure I am not the only one who has met customers at the shop at 'odd' hours to take in their critter.

    I love hunting and try to schedule whatever hunts I have planned during the 'off season' of AK hunting, unless I can find someone to cover for me while I am gone.
    Taxidermy IS art!
    www.alaskawildliferugs.com
    Your mount is more than a trophy, it's a memory. Relive The Memory!

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    Quote Originally Posted by JuliW View Post
    That said, I am sure I am not the only one who has met customers at the shop at 'odd' hours to take in their critter.
    And much appreciated.

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    It's 2201, I'm a 1 man shop,

    we just returned from chicken hunting caribou with my daughter, dozen or so missed calls and voice mails, when my phone got service at the tans a bridge, I called everyone before I left tok at 2, guy just left 5 minutes ago from the shop dropping off a bou. Antlers are already in the tank preserving the velvet. 1 guy went elsewhere, win some lose some, that's how it goes.

    Hoytguy
    Quality Counts @ Dahlberg's Taxidermy

  19. #19

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    Most taxidermists (not all) that I've known are terrible businessmen who would rather be out hunting/fishing or whatever else.
    I've learned to do my own taxidermy, not all that difficult if you are good working with your hands. The only problem is that all of your friends will then want you to do their taxidermy work. They offer to pay for the form, etc. etc., good luck ever seeing a cent from them though.

  20. #20
    Sponsor protaxidermy's Avatar
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    & on the other hand, Most guys that decide to learn how to do taxidermy for themselves, DO end up doing their friends & other guys mounts for a Cut rate price or traded out for something else . Doing so WITHOUT the REQUIRED LICENSE which is Illegal.

    So What is worse , a guy that finds themselves behind due to over intake of projects , Or another person that is breaking the law & in a LOT of cases Void of Wildlife Enforcement laws that us that Are licensed must adhear to.

    I had a 22 inch diameter , 30 Foot long log roll over my tractor & get me in the back this year, almost Breaking my back & putting me out of work for over a month. That put me WAY behind already.

    Does that make me a bad Business man ????

    My point is , EVERYONE has a Life whether it is hunting, fishing, or even Families that need taken care of.

    Taxidermy is a NOVELTY ITEM, Not a Life or Death necessity.

    Be patient , if the taxidermist has the ability you will get a good job done .

    RJ Simington
    PRO Taxidermy Fairbanks
    www.protaxidermy.com
    Custom Taxidermy, Experience the difference !!

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