Knowing where to take your harvest is an important step in preserving it.
Hunters spend a lot of time in the field each year. Being able to preserve memories of the harvest is important and knowing how to choose the right taxidermist for you is part of that. There is a series of things you should do when choosing the right one.
Josh West, owner of The Taxidermy Guy, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an expert in the field, and while he can stuff just about anything, he specializes in wild turkeys and other birds. He recommends a series of things you should do when selecting a taxidermist.
1. Ask the Right Questions
First, it’s important to ask the right questions. Doing so will vet the taxidermist and help you determine whether they are right for you, or not. Some things to question include:
• What’s your education and history?
• Do you continue your education? If so, how?
• Are you a member of taxidermy associations?
• Do you compete in taxidermy contests?
• How long have you been doing taxidermy work?
• Do you specialize in specific species?
• What is your pricing?
• What is your lede time?
• Do you do the work, subcontract it, or have employees?
• Why should I choose you over another taxidermist?
• How do you preserve the hides?
• Can you provide recent references?
• Can you show me examples of your work?
2. Follow Up on Questions
It’s important to follow up on the questions you ask a taxidermist. This ensures that you get truthful answers, and that you know exactly what you’re getting into.
For example, they need to have training. The more the better. Experience is important. Also, being a member of an association, and competing in contests, can show their desire to improve, which is important.
Pricing is generally a reflection of quality. Low prices tend to produce lesser results. Higher prices oftentimes indicate better finished mounts.
Don’t let a long lede time turn you off. Oftentimes, if a taxidermist is in high demand, it takes time to get a mount back. A short lede time can be a red flag, though, which can mean a taxidermist is in low demand. That said, don’t automatically assume that. It could just be that they have help in the shop, or that they’re just starting out (but are still potentially very talented).
Whether on the phone, or in person, you need to ask them how they preserve the hides. The desired answer? It needs to be done by commercial tanneries. This will ensure a long-lasting mount.
Overall, it’s crucial to ask these questions and more. Doing so helps you get to know the taxidermist, and whether they will be right for you, or not.
3. Visit Their Shop
If you call them, and their responses to your questions are satisfactory, consider a visit to their shop. See if it’s clean and neat, or not. Oftentimes (but not always), their shop reflects their work. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Messy people can still be good at their job.
4. Look at Examples of Their Work
While at the shop, look at some of their finished work. Good taxidermists keep these on display to show potential customers what to expect from their abilities. If they don’t want to show you their work, that’s a major red flag. It might be best to move on.
5. Get to Know Them
After you’ve selected a taxidermist, it’s important to get to know them. They can be a great resource and can help you in many ways. Who knows, you just might be able to help them, too.
Article by Josh Honeycutt