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How to find the right taxidermist?

This is a discussion on How to find the right taxidermist? within the Before & After the Hunt forums, part of the HUNT AFRICA category; One thing I've definitely learned from this forum is how much I DON'T know. Taxidermy being one of the many ...

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    Default How to find the right taxidermist?

    One thing I've definitely learned from this forum is how much I DON'T know.

    Taxidermy being one of the many subjects I'm just now beginning to learn about. I looked and don't see a thread about what all should be considered in a taxidermist, especially for african mounts. So what questions should be asked and what should be considered?

    Here are a few of the questions I've come up with, many of which I don't know the answer to yet:
    • What to look for when viewing mounts?
    • Are the hides tanned and by what method?
    • Advantages of completing taxidermy in Africa vs at home?
    • Shipping costs for each method?
    • If done in Africa is it easier to purchase a pedestal at home so that money can be saved on shipping?
    • What is a reasonable turn around time?
    • Etc...


    I'm sure there are many other questions that I haven't asked. Just trying to get something started as this is something I want to do right.

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    You are on the long long road to learning.

    Those questions are hard to answer easily.

    VISIT the taxidermist.
    It is an expense of your time, no matter where you are getting the work done.
    Note the NEW work. Businesses get sold with a reputation and old work.

    WHO is doing the work?

    Look at the mounts; Unrecognizable junk to Museum quality is possible from anywhere.
    See what you like.

    Examine the cats closely. If they can do a cat well that is a good sign. Faces matter.

    If you have a taxidermist you have used before go ask them to help educate you.

    Visit taxidermy websites and look at the work and how it is done.
    Practice whispering before you leave for Africa!
    A Legend in my own mind!

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    Thanks Brickburn. I like your cat comment in particular. I've seen many more cats I don't like than I do.

    Time to do some more face to face shopping I guess.

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    Checking out their work in person is certainly important. How we do that is equally important.

    First, do not put too much faith in showroom mounts. Look at customer mounts that are ready to go out, there can be a huge difference between the quality of work that a taxi CAN produce and what they CONSISTANTLY produce.

    Look for someone who has a fait bit of African experience, the skins can be brutal to work with compared to NA skins, not always but often.

    Do not rely on your memory, take a good close up photo of a deers face in profile as well as head on and one including the neck and brisket as well to compare their work with the real thing. We all think we know what a deer looks like but the details are lost on most, even well seasoned taxis ALWAYS have these pics on hand while mounting to maintain QC to the best of their abilities.
    Compare the nose pad and nostril wings, the shape and bulk of the muzzle, is the lipline even and tidy, muscling subtle and appropriate to hair length, tear ducts closed or slightly open, eyes (the mirror of the soul) shaped correctly, eyelids not too bulky, The rear corner of the eye should not be visible from a front view, the hair and skin tight to the antler burrs, the antlers set at a believable angle (many are way too far forward) the ears attached at the same height and not too low on the neck, white throat patch aligned correctly, brisket lined up correctly, armpit cowlicks positioned correctly an evenly (often they are pulled way up the side of the mount), hair neat where it contacts the wall. Really pick apart your reference and his mounts, be sure you are getting quality work.

    No one wants to have to look at a bug eyed, bull faced, black kissy lipped, nose hair flaring, misaligned POS with ears attached to the top of the neck instead of the head for the rest of their lives.

    If they taxi does mediocre work on bread and butter whitetails, expect a much worse job on African mounts.
    The journey is the reward.

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    With the exception of a few artists in Africa most work is mediocre at best.
    I would have your skins shipped home to the USA where the best in the world are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Royal27 View Post
    One thing I've definitely learned from this forum is how much I DON'T know.

    Taxidermy being one of the many subjects I'm just now beginning to learn about. I looked and don't see a thread about what all should be considered in a taxidermist, especially for african mounts. So what questions should be asked and what should be considered?

    Here are a few of the questions I've come up with, many of which I don't know the answer to yet:
    • What to look for when viewing mounts?
    • Are the hides tanned and by what method?
    • Advantages of completing taxidermy in Africa vs at home?
    • Shipping costs for each method?
    • If done in Africa is it easier to purchase a pedestal at home so that money can be saved on shipping?
    • What is a reasonable turn around time?
    • Etc...


    I'm sure there are many other questions that I haven't asked. Just trying to get something started as this is something I want to do right.
    I can give you my opinion ...

    Firstly you have to compare apples with apples . I would get opinions of people that have done this before both ways . If you intend to use a local taxidermist make sure he is familiar with African animals. Make sure they have the right molds and that he mounts a good number of them each year.

    There are many excellent taxidermists all over the world . One thing I can tell you is that this is one area where you must not look to see where you can save money ! This will be your final product and memory on the wall and if done badly will haunt you forever .

    If you compare the best with the best it will be cheaper to have them done in Africa by people that do thousands of these every year . It will definitely be better for you to make your own pedestal as a pedestal is as heavy as a few mounts !

    If you are on a budget it would be best you get your animals dip and shipped as you can then mount them over a period of time instead of all at once . The turnaround time for a taxidermist of note would probably be 8 months to a year depending on if your trophies get in early or late in the season.

    It is difficult for guys that don't know the animals to know facial features. This is where it can go south real quick !!! Cats is probably the most difficult to do . I have seen some really horrible mounts on leopard and lions !

    I would ask some advice from your outfitter .
    Richard Lemmer - Safari Afrika - Accept the Challenge !
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    richard@safariafrika.net
    Skype : safari.afrika

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    Taxidermy is one of those confusing things which most outfitters neglect to share info with prospective, or current clients, it seems daunting at first but in my mind it is quite simple with the help of either a taxidermist for one or your outfitter.

    1.) cost and cost difference can be calculated while there might be slight differences in the end due to an extra species here and there, a.)mounting, shipping, tanning, insurance, broker fees are all things that pro-forma invoices can be asked for, I for one do this quite often, as clients would like to have a ball park figure...

    It takes your outfitter a phone call or an email with your preferred species upon booking to get you this ball park.

    2.)Turn around time is as simple as a question, quality taxidermist I believe run 8 - 12 months on taxidermy and shipping, mostly less than 11, IMO a year and a half - 2 years is too long.

    3.)Dipping packing and shipping to your door should take 4 and NO MORE THAN 6 months.

    4.)Quality of work is like art we all look for something different, beauty ultimately is in the eye of the beholder, it is always better to see work for yourself, photos are though IMO.

    One thing to remember is that we all want the best for our money, and our trophies which are mostly great memories,..... there are great taxidermist in the US and Canada and Africa awesome in fact......so awesome, that your Leopard full mount will run you $11 500
    There are also ones that will ask $1900 this is a very personal decision and one that only you can make.

    For all the rest there is help........ Or Master card!!


    My best always
    Jaco Strauss
    Kwalata Wilderness safaris - South Africa/Mozambique
    Jaco@kwalata.com
    www.kwalata.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Safari Afrika View Post
    I can give you my opinion ...

    Firstly you have to compare apples with apples . I would get opinions of people that have done this before both ways . If you intend to use a local taxidermist make sure he is familiar with African animals. Make sure they have the right molds and that he mounts a good number of them each year.

    There are many excellent taxidermists all over the world . One thing I can tell you is that this is one area where you must not look to see where you can save money ! This will be your final product and memory on the wall and if done badly will haunt you forever .

    If you compare the best with the best it will be cheaper to have them done in Africa by people that do thousands of these every year . It will definitely be better for you to make your own pedestal as a pedestal is as heavy as a few mounts !

    If you are on a budget it would be best you get your animals dip and shipped as you can then mount them over a period of time instead of all at once . The turnaround time for a taxidermist of note would probably be 8 months to a year depending on if your trophies get in early or late in the season.

    It is difficult for guys that don't know the animals to know facial features. This is where it can go south real quick !!! Cats is probably the most difficult to do . I have seen some really horrible mounts on leopard and lions !

    I would ask some advice from your outfitter .
    Spot on Richard!!!! your outfitter should play an informational role in this by providing the estimates...

    For the CLIENT to make the decision....

    When you back?

    My best always
    Jaco Strauss
    Kwalata Wilderness safaris - South Africa/Mozambique
    Jaco@kwalata.com
    www.kwalata.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaco Strauss View Post
    Spot on Richard!!!! your outfitter should play an informational role in this by providing the estimates...

    For the CLIENT to make the decision....

    When you back?

    My best always
    I am back March 22 .... How is my lawn ???
    Richard Lemmer - Safari Afrika - Accept the Challenge !
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    Skype : safari.afrika

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    Two thoughts, some of the taxidermy is really good in SA, I was happy with the work my last taxidermist did...what I was not happy about was, how they were packed...animals were touching animals and a few mounts were ruined in my honest opinion...they went from very good to OK.

    You can ship them back by ship too, I think it saves money, but it depends were you live too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OUTWOODS TAXIDERMY [UK] View Post
    ..........
    I would have your skins shipped home to the USA where the best in the world are.


    There are some awesome taxidermists in Canada and the US. However, the vast majority would not be able to properly identify many African species, never mind have they ever mounted one.

    I suggest you do your homework. It's your trophy.
    Practice whispering before you leave for Africa!
    A Legend in my own mind!

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    Some great guidance so far!

    I really am trying to do my homework, and this the thread. I don't want to do it cheap, but I also don't want to spend money needlessly. Lots to think through for sure.

    For my first safari in Zim I will most likely have the work done back here at home. For my second hunt in SA I am looking hard at all options though and plan on looking while in SA. I'd like to have a plan for shipping back to the states in case I don't find a better option. I never thought I'd enjoy the planning and research as much as I have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Safari Afrika View Post
    I am back March 22 .... How is my lawn ???
    It's terrible, full of dog ---, trash and I think a saw a night crawler... Not sure, I did ask Philemon to cut it but he said the boss won't be back long time... And I went....... Aaahhhhhhhhh.

    But considering all probably not to bad, I think your roof needs work though... Or was that Riaan's..

    Anyway travel save and make sure to wear long pants if it's cold outside, and remember not to go out with wet hair...



    My best always
    Jaco Strauss
    Kwalata Wilderness safaris - South Africa/Mozambique
    Jaco@kwalata.com
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    You obviously are board ...... Stay with the thread ! If there is a Philemon in my yard he probably succeeded with a landclaim ....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Safari Afrika View Post
    You obviously are board ...... Stay with the thread ! If there is a Philemon in my yard he probably succeeded with a landclaim ....
    That is possible, I'll stay on the thread as long as you're entertaining I might go off topic but that's a different deal all together...

    My best always
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  16. #16
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    gday royal
    keep up the homework,mate
    in 2010 after our first African adventure ,we were just plain lucky .
    the fella we were going to get to do our trophies ,hadn't done any African stuff at all , and never told us that ,either .
    we never thought to ask as we didn't know any better .
    when it come time to import them back here , the company we used ,global freight .
    the agent tony mercurri actually said in one of the many phoine calls and emails , who was going to do them and where did we want them delivered to .
    and just out of the blue ,once we told him who was going to them ,said never heard of him , does he do much African stuff?
    then preceded to give us a 101 lesson and really opened our eyes .he stated that he was doing shipments like ours regulary and has seen and heard of some broken dreams ,from doing it blind as we were .
    then told us of the best of the best , and mate we have to drive 4and 1/2 hours to drop of heads or pick em up .but man o man is worth it .
    so as stated look hard ,mate
    this years adventure ,young bob give us the heads up of a good set up right near where we are hunting and they will be doing nearly all of it as we are going to a lot of euros and flatskins .
    but the mounts will be going straight to south pacific taxidermy ,

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    Quote Originally Posted by bluey View Post
    gday royal
    keep up the homework,mate
    in 2010 after our first African adventure ,we were just plain lucky .
    the fella we were going to get to do our trophies ,hadn't done any African stuff at all , and never told us that ,either .
    we never thought to ask as we didn't know any better .
    when it come time to import them back here , the company we used ,global freight .
    the agent tony mercurri actually said in one of the many phoine calls and emails , who was going to do them and where did we want them delivered to .
    and just out of the blue ,once we told him who was going to them ,said never heard of him , does he do much African stuff?
    then preceded to give us a 101 lesson and really opened our eyes .he stated that he was doing shipments like ours regulary and has seen and heard of some broken dreams ,from doing it blind as we were .
    then told us of the best of the best , and mate we have to drive 4and 1/2 hours to drop of heads or pick em up .but man o man is worth it .
    so as stated look hard ,mate
    this years adventure ,young bob give us the heads up of a good set up right near where we are hunting and they will be doing nearly all of it as we are going to a lot of euros and flatskins .
    but the mounts will be going straight to south pacific taxidermy ,
    Hey Bluey, it sounds like you already have a good taxi lined up another option if you ever get that way while fishing is Mark Walker in New Zealand. He has done extensive training with Ken Walker, no relation, who is a many time world champion taxidermist in several disciplines. He is quite talented and a really nice guy, so even if it doesn't benefit you, any Kiwis reading this would be wise to look him up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaco Strauss View Post
    It's terrible, full of dog ---, trash and I think a saw a night crawler... Not sure, I did ask Philemon to cut it but he said the boss won't be back long time... And I went....... Aaahhhhhhhhh.

    But considering all probably not to bad, I think your roof needs work though... Or was that Riaan's..

    Anyway travel save and make sure to wear long pants if it's cold outside, and remember not to go out with wet hair...



    My best always
    I don't care what the thread was started for, that's funny!

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