Choose your taxidermist carefully! We’ve all heard the horror stories about how a friend shot this beautiful, enormous whitetail. He takes it to a guy down the street that assures him that “he can handle the job” of turning this thing into a life-like wall-hanging trophy. The hunter finally gets his deer mount back and swears it is not the deer he shot! To make matters worse, the deer begins to “shrink” once hung in the den and within months the wife is threatening divorce if the “eye-sore” is not retired to the attic!
Choosing a taxidermist is sometimes like playing the lottery; there is always a chance you could choose the right one. The PTA suggests a few things to help sportsmen decide if the taxidermist chosen is the right one for them.
- Is (s)he licensed by the state? In Pennsylvania, a taxidermist must be licensed by the PA Department of Agriculture. In the case of waterfowl or migratory birds, a taxidermist must also hold a federal taxidermy license.
- Reputation. Simply put, “Have you heard anything bad about the person?” If so, check it out thoroughly. A taxidermist can never please everyone, but it’s not out of line to ask for a client list and simply call a few of these and ask them if they were satisfied with the taxidermy work.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Will you guarantee your work? Do you use professionally tanned skins?; Or use dry preservatives? May I see a few finished mounts? How much expertise do you have? Do you have insurance in case something happens to my valuable trophy? Above all, go and look at the individual’s work, don’t just shop for a cheap price and quick turn-around over the phone. Make an appointment with the taxidermist and ask your questions directly.
- Price. Price of the finished mount is always a tough call and sometimes hunters get hung up on the price alone. Consider price carefully and always remember the saying “you get what you pay for” wasn’t dreamed up yesterday. If one taxidermist is mounting deer heads for $150 less than most others, be suspicious of the quality going into the work. Buy the best quality you can afford. After all, you may have waited a lifetime for this special trophy. Picking your taxidermist carefully will assure your trophy really will last a lifetime.