Every day some poor hunter finds out that getting a shoulder mount done on his trophy deer all of a sudden costs three times what it did just 20 short years ago. If you have experienced modern day taxidermy sticker shock, here is some information that might help explain what has happened over the years in regards to preserving your trophy.
First off, technology has changed. Just two decades ago, most taxidermists did their own tanning on capes and skins. There were many high-quality guys and gals who actually produced good tans, but unfortunately, most didn’t. This means ‘stuffed animals’ did not last very long before cracking, stinking, or having their hair fall out. If any of you have ever exposed an older mount to the immediate heat of a wood stove, you know what I am talking about.
With the new technology, the standard for quality has also evolved. This means all those ‘hackidermists’ of yesterday are either long gone or they have evolved with the times. Being a taxidermist with over 20 years’ experience, I have run across some interesting people. One guy was shocked to find out that “getting a deer stuffed” did not cost $125.00 anymore. I think I insulted him when I laughed at that news, but he quickly got educated by me. It is simple, good quality taxidermy means taking no short cuts and tons of labor to return the dead skin and hair of an animal to its life-like origins.
Here is what I have invested in a deer shoulder mount when I do one. By the way, I charge $750.00 dollars.
First off, I have between 23-25 hours of labor in a completely finished deer head. How much would you work for per hour at your job if you worked for yourself and were responsible for providing building rent or mortgage payments, electricity, insurance, supplies, work clothes, safety gear, transportation, supplies, shipping costs, and transportation to run errands for supplies or materials to complete your job? If I still charged $125.00 I’d be working for significantly less than five bucks an hour.
Besides paying the overhead of all the items mentioned above, I pay the best tanners in the country to provide me with the best possible tan. On a deer cape, this usually costs me around $55.00 with shipping both ways. By now you should have a calculator out, and you should be figuring up my mentions. When it is all said and done and when everything is paid for, I do not count the time spent speaking with a client both on the phone and in person. Usually, each shoulder mount customer takes up at least one hour of my time. No matter what, that is another hour spent away from getting work done. It all adds up.
My intention of divulging this information is not to whine or complain, but rather, to let people know what all is exactly factored into completing a quality taxidermy mount. So, when you find that good ole boy down the road that will do your deer for $300.00, remember that he is either taking a major short cut, or he is the world’s worst businessman. You get what you pay for so don’t take a shortcut if you want a quality mount.