“Let’s get out of here, I’m not letting him mount my deer”
“What’s wrong with it, it looks like a mounted deer?”
“That’s what’s wrong with it”
This is the conversation I had with a buddy once when looking for a quality taxidermist. Most folks don’t look at a deer mount or any mount for that matter close enough to realize the difference in quality taxidermy work and just a deer mount put out by an untrained guy looking to make a few extra dollars but for those of us that do you need to take as much pride in preparing your trophy for the taxi as he does in mounting it.
There’s nothing wrong with the cheaper mount if that’s what you want and all you can afford but you’re gonna be looking at the mount for the rest of your life I strongly suggest doing whatever you can to pay for quality. Do you really want a cross eyed bobcat or a three lipped deer staring at you for years?
Quality taxidermy work, like most anything of quality is expensive, the saying “you get what you pay for” is never truer than in taxidermy.
The best way for a taxidermist to put out a quality mount is to receive a quality specimen. You can’t bake the blue ribbon cake with crappy ingredients. Remember when you’re cutting that cape or skinning the head that every cut you make has to be sewed up, all the blood you leave on the hair has to be washed, all the sticks and dirt and leaves you drag that cape through has to removed. If you expect a taxidermist to give you a mount worthy of looking at for years then take the extra 10 minutes to give him a nice clean, quality, head and cape.
A taxidermist is a man of many trades, he has to sew, paint, sculpt, skin, clean, mold, the list goes on. These guys are true artist and when you find a good one treat him right and tell your friends about him.
Ive seen guys cut capes short and then say the taxidermist did a bad job on the brisket of a deer, I’ve seen dirty, half rotten bobcats come in with green bellies and the hair slipping and the guy can’t understand why he was told he would likely not be happy with the finished product, you get what you put in people. I can’t stress enough how important it is for you as a hunter to take the time to learn the proper cuts to make on your trophy and the importance of getting the animal in a freezer as soon as possible.
Everyone wants to brag on their kill and that’s great I do the same thing but don’t leave your deer in the back of the truck for three hours while you tote it all over town stopping at all the coffe shops to show it off. This will cause hair slippage and will reflect in your mount. Get it skinned, get the cape and head cooled then you can take it around town.
One sure way to have and keep a quality taxidermist is to encourage your brother to go to taxidermy school like I did. I know not everyone is that lucky but my point is to find a guy you trust and treat him right.
My mounts are hung in full display for every guest that walks into my house to see, I’m not ashamed of the quality or what I paid for them. I’ve told the stories of the hunts many times over and that’s what a mount should be, a remembrance of the day and a reminder of the people involved and the place it was taken.
I’m lucky to have a very good bird taxidermist and mammal taxidermist that do excellent work on all my mounts but they also recieve a quality animal.
My bird guy Paul told me when I took him a big Montana rooster that he enjoyed mounting the bird because it was taken care of and brought in in a good condition and that makes his job easier.
I assure you when your taxidermist enjoys working on your animal he will put out a better mount. A good taxidermist does not want a bad mount leaving his shop and he will do everything he can to make your mount as good as his own but you have to do your part.
I’ve been on late night blood trails that end miles from the truck and you’re tired and cold and in a hurry to get the animal caped and quartered but think about what you will be giving your taxidermist and expecting his best when you are cleaning your animal, if you want his best give him yours. Any hunter should be able to cape and quarter his game in a manner that is satisfactory to his taxidermist or he shouldn’t be taking game.
If you are unsure of what to do or how to do it call him, tell him what you have and ask. He would much rather help you now than to spend three hours sewing up a mistake that you made in five minutes. Remember these guys are not getting rich, they love their work and the easier you make their job the better they will like doing your mount and the more they will like you as customer. I’ve tried it, it’s not easy. These guys have a very busy schedule and keep late hours, call him tell him you are coming by with an animal and when you do call show up, don’t keep him waiting he’s busy, do you want your mount to be the one he stops working on to wait for a guy that don’t show up? Don’t call him everyday for the next six months checking on your mount, let the man work and when it’s done you will get the call, you owe him money, he will call. That brings up another point. Pay the man!! Materials are not free, everything he does to your mount cost money, if he wants half up front and you’ve done your homework on the guy then this should not be a problem.
10 months to a year is ok when getting a mount done. A lot of these guys send out the capes to be tanned and this process takes time. I’m always ready to see my mount but I never want it rushed, again I will be looking at it for the rest of my life I can wait a few more months to get it back.
There are a million choices on how to get your mount done, have an idea of what you would like and ask your taxidermist what he thinks. He may notice a cut, or bald spot that he can hide with a certain pose that you didn’t think of, the key is honest communication. I’ve seen mounts leave my brothers shop that I did not like. The quality of the mount was excellent but the pose was not what I liked. Tell him what your thoughts are and discuss what’s best. I do not like any mount open mouthed, it’s just not what I want, that’s not saying that they don’t look good on some animals I just don’t prefer the pose. Honest feed back on your mount and realistic expectations will go a long way when talking to most taxidermist.
If you would like a nice mount to remember your hunt but are short on cash you have options. A skull mount is a great way to have your animal and not spend a lot and they also don’t take up much room. Maybe a full body predator mount is out of your budget, then think about a shoulder pedestal, these can sit on an end table and look great. This is also a great option for a predator that has rubbed his hair or was maybe shot up beyond repair.
Your mount can be as expensive as you want it to be, the options are endless. I’ve seen full mounts of lions that are on rotating tables and fight scenes of predators and prey, all these can be done by quality taxidermist.
Taxidermy doesn’t start when you drop your animal off at a shop, it starts when you pull the trigger. So this fall when you have taken an animal you are proud of and want it to be a part of your home forever, remember your taxidermist.
If you would like any more information on taxidermy or any contact information for quality taxidermists please contact me through this site or @chris_mcook on Instagram.