Thoughts on mounts

Shooter77

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I've been using this taxidermist for about 10 years. He's done deer, turkey, bear & bobcat before. He's done Muley and Antelope for my uncle and his buddies. The last few mounts the quality seems to be a little off. I'm big on details being a engineer, but it seems like he's missing of the finer details on the mounts. He did my son's first buck and his last minute buck, both from 2020, then a buck I got in '20. I'm a little particular about things, so some times I wonder if I'm being to picky. What are some of your thoughts about the looks of them? I've thought about changing who I use with the last one.

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backyardtndeer

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Not sure from those pics where your issues are. I am not seeing detail issues, but I am on a phone.

We had been using the same taxi for years, he just does it part time though and it takes him a while. With CWD, I had to make a change, he really didn't want to take any more deer. I checked reviews out on the guy I gave the opportunity to mount my 2019 deer. One of my best ever 8 points. His reviews were great and the conversation I had with him on the phone sounded good. I still haven't gotten that deer back!!! I won't use him again. I may use Wilkerson in Dyersburg if we kill any wall worthy in the future. They do great work.

Best if you can get word of mouth from actual past customers.
 

bigtex

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Those mounts look "ok" but are not show quality. A "show quality" mount takes a lot more time to do than the average run of the mill mount and most customers don't want to pay for the extra time and work that is involved.
It's all in the prep of the mannequin that makes the difference. Your mounts look like they have had the bare minimum in that respect and they lack detail in the eyes, mouth and ears.
A lot of taxidermists are simply taking on more work than they can handle and the quality shows.
Not throwing off on your trophies, they do look "good" and to the average person they would look great.
Ask your Taxidermist how much extra would it cost to do a show quality mount, if he says that what you get is as good as he can do I would look for someone else next time.
 
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Shooter77

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Those mounts look "ok" but are not show quality. A "show quality" mount takes a lot more time to do than the average run of the mill mount and most customers don't want to pay for the extra time and work that is involved.
It's all in the prep of the mannequin that makes the difference. Your mounts look like they have had the bare minimum in that respect and they lack detail in the eyes, mouth and ears.
A lot of taxidermists are simply taking on more work than they can handle and the quality shows.
Not throwing off on your trophies, they do look "good" and to the average person they would look great.
Ask your Taxidermist how much extra would it cost to do a show quality mount, if he says that what you get is as good as he can do I would look for someone else next time.
Thank you bigtex! that's the feedback I was looking for. I feel like the fine details are missing. Like I said before, he has done "show" quality work before but like you said, he's taken on way to much work over last few years and the quality has suffered for the quantity. He told me he had over 100 left and wanted to be done by Nov so he could hunt some. I will probably be moving on to another if I can find a good one.
 

AT Hiker

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Honest question, how much does he charge?

Using a quality eye, ear liners and tan all cost money. If you want realistic depth in the nostril area then a replacement nose is going to add to the cost, or at bare minimum extra time to carve it out and later blend the transition.
I personally have over $200 in just a commercially tanned skin, form, eyes and ear liners. Add in shipping of products, glue, paint, clay, epoxy, thread, bondo and the tools acquired over time... then you have to pay yourself...it gets pricey. I easily have 10 hours in a mount, the only way to make money is to increase your price or cut cost/time (dry preserve, cheap products, etc).

If your happy with what you pay and are satisfied with the work, then stick with him. Or seek out someone else, pay more and hang them up next to each other and see if the extra money was worth it.

Most taxidermist get better with time, I know I did 😛 and by no means do I think Im great but for you to think your guy is starting to lack in quality then he is either outsourcing or just trying to knock them out so he can squeeze what little profit out he can.
If I were him I would increase my price and revert back to quality. He would likely end up making the same.
 

AT Hiker

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Here is an example of what I’m talking about. Had a guy bring me a deer, second mount he ever had done. First one was out of state, it’s on the right.
Mine is above in the left.
850FCED3-ADED-4E52-B913-82AB28B21DBF.jpeg

They were mounted a year apart, mine being the most recent. He never once questioned my price or anything. He got home and later sent me the pic and this…“I didn’t realize how good your work was until I hung it up next to this one”.
It’s very subjective but when a taxidermist does the basic mechanics right (reference, proper skin and form work) then 99% of the mounts will look good and the untrained eye will notice the difference side by side.

Also, it’s killing me to look at the mount I did for him and see the hair laid against the wall and not behind the form🤦🏻‍♂️
 

Shooter77

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Honest question, how much does he charge?

Using a quality eye, ear liners and tan all cost money. If you want realistic depth in the nostril area then a replacement nose is going to add to the cost, or at bare minimum extra time to carve it out and later blend the transition.
I personally have over $200 in just a commercially tanned skin, form, eyes and ear liners. Add in shipping of products, glue, paint, clay, epoxy, thread, bondo and the tools acquired over time... then you have to pay yourself...it gets pricey. I easily have 10 hours in a mount, the only way to make money is to increase your price or cut cost/time (dry preserve, cheap products, etc).

If your happy with what you pay and are satisfied with the work, then stick with him. Or seek out someone else, pay more and hang them up next to each other and see if the extra money was worth it.

Most taxidermist get better with time, I know I did 😛 and by no means do I think Im great but for you to think your guy is starting to lack in quality then he is either outsourcing or just trying to knock them out so he can squeeze what little profit out he can.
If I were him I would increase my price and revert back to quality. He would likely end up making the same.
He's went up in price over last 8 years. I think he started out at 275 and the last mount I picked up this week was 400. He's going up another 50 this season cause of supply cost. For the cost per quality, i'm not 100% sold on him. I've looked at others work in the area, only a handful I would consider. The 2 I like the best, both are charging 600 for work. I also understand everything is subject the eye of the beholder. I'm a quality engineer and can be very picky with the details (per my wife..lol). I was worried I'm being to picky with it.

Here is a buck he finished for me this week. I feel like it's better than a couple of the previous works. I don't like the nostrils on the last few deer he's done. I feel like that is a are that should look real. Even a small amount of hole painted black would improve things.

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AT Hiker

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It sounds like you have your mind made up on the quality your after. Unless your doing it yourself, your not going to get it for $400.

What are your thoughts on this eye? Be 100% honest, please.
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Shooter77

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It sounds like you have your mind made up on the quality your after. Unless your doing it yourself, your not going to get it for $400.

What is your thoughts on this eye? Be 100% honest, please.
View attachment 149069
It looks pretty good (75/100 score). The color and skin laying around the glass looks good, except maybe at bottom of eye. Looks like some gap there. The glass doesn't look great, but that could be camera angle. I would like to see a side view of it.

BTW...what do you charge for a shoulder mount or what you think is a realistic cost for a mount?
 

Shooter77

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It sounds like you have your mind made up on the quality your after. Unless your doing it yourself, your not going to get it for $400.
I think one thing that helps on his cost, he charges 75 more if you use Mackenzie forms. The forms he uses is made about 15 miles up the road. So he orders a month's worth and goes pick them up.
 

AT Hiker

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I’m a garage-a-dermist and I’m at $650, thanks to inflation. I only do a handful each year, if I had to run it like an actual business I’d be higher.
If your using decent products and a tanned skin I don’t see how anyone can be under $600 and producing a quality mount, plus making any type of profit.

I’ll take a 75/100 on a up close commercial mount any day of the week. Step back 10 feet and put it up on the wall and that 75 jumps up to a 90.

Now, take a up close picture of your mount and compare it to my commercial mount and the live reference. Just to give you something to compare things too. *don’t use mine as a reference per say, just judge it against your guy and consider the cost*

FYI…there should be a slight gap on the bottom lid. The eye is fluid and free floating and not welded to the skin. If it were a competition mount I would have added some flesh tone (which you couldn’t see on that angle anyways) and “floated” it with a gloss resin to add more depth.
Start doing that and your looking at $1k plus worth of work.
 
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AT Hiker

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I think one thing that helps on his cost, he charges 75 more if you use Mackenzie forms. The forms he uses is made about 15 miles up the road. So he orders a month's worth and goes pick them up.
I’m doing the same after last years fiasco with McKenzie. Their deer forms are basically $100 now and most require more work than necessary. If you don’t live in a speede delivery area or close enough to pick them up they will get you good on shipping cost.
 

AT Hiker

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IMO and the opinions of the taxidermy judges I spoken with, say a mid to high end commercial deer mount would score 90 and above. That’s looking at it from a normal distance, hanging on the wall. Your not using a flashlight to look into the inner ear detail, not seeing if your inner nostril detail is flawless (though you do have to have nostril depth) not seeing if the nicitating membrane is properly located, etc. your looking for a anatomically accurate representation of your best reference, or how we interpret reference really.
You hang this deer up next to a closed mouth master division comp deer and look at them from across the room, most will not notice the amount of time it took to create a commercial deer vs a master comp deer. We are talking 10-12 hrs vs 100+ in some instances.

Also, stylization is a big thing in taxidermy. One taxidermist might create his own style, and that’s ok, but it might be anatomically inaccurate. Hunters might jump all over it and think it’s the best thing ever (think the big swelled neck on the McKenzie 6900, totally not accurate). Then you have taxidermist like me, who have been “trained” in the comp room, that try our best to properly interpret reference and create it that way.
You will also have people compare big Northern deer to our scrawny tick infested deer or those donkey looking SW TX bucks with droopy ears and sagging jaws.
It’s a blend of objectivity and subjectivity.

CDBF184F-2BA5-4242-81CE-747A5AEE1B73.jpeg
 

AT Hiker

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Most importantly, this is just all my opinion. I’m just trying to give you my perspective so you can form your own opinion and go forth.
I’m not soliciting business, most years I turn down more than I take in. I’m just trying to be honest with you and anyone else following.
 

Shooter77

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Most importantly, this is just all my opinion. I’m just trying to give you my perspective so you can form your own opinion and go forth.
I’m not soliciting business, most years I turn down more than I take in. I’m just trying to be honest with you and anyone else following.
I appreciate the info! I feel like unless you have some baseline, you won't know what your seeking. Early season bucks, I would like to see that detail in the face and neck. I don't see that much from a lot of taxidermist. My first one was done by a police officer that did it in his garage. He only did limited amount each season. He put a lot of detail in the face and neck. He would go to the local park that had captive deer and take pictures of them to use for reference. To me, that's mastering the art.
 

paboom

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Just another thought that I'd throw in. I think it's a good idea to ask if the taxi has any apprentice working for them. I got burned one time with that scenario. Guy produces outstanding work but was training a guy and he worked on my deer and there were some quality issues.
 

Shooter77

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IMO and the opinions of the taxidermy judges I spoken with, say a mid to high end commercial deer mount would score 90 and above. That’s looking at it from a normal distance, hanging on the wall. Your not using a flashlight to look into the inner ear detail, not seeing if your inner nostril detail is flawless (though you do have to have nostril depth) not seeing if the nicitating membrane is properly located, etc. your looking for a anatomically accurate representation of your best reference, or how we interpret reference really.
You hang this deer up next to a closed mouth master division comp deer and look at them from across the room, most will not notice the amount of time it took to create a commercial deer vs a master comp deer. We are talking 10-12 hrs vs 100+ in some instances.

Also, stylization is a big thing in taxidermy. One taxidermist might create his own style, and that’s ok, but it might be anatomically inaccurate. Hunters might jump all over it and think it’s the best thing ever (think the big swelled neck on the McKenzie 6900, totally not accurate). Then you have taxidermist like me, who have been “trained” in the comp room, that try our best to properly interpret reference and create it that way.
You will also have people compare big Northern deer to our scrawny tick infested deer or those donkey looking SW TX bucks with droopy ears and sagging jaws.
It’s a blend of objectivity and subjectivity.
Great mount there. I feel like my guy misses big time on the depth of the rack placement. I feel like he's got it set to high on 3 out 4 of my last mounts. Here is my 10 from 2020 season, I don't like the antlers set on the form and the way the ears set, especially the deer's left ear.

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Shooter77

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Just another thought that I'd throw in. I think it's a good idea to ask if the taxi has any apprentice working for them. I got burned one time with that scenario. Guy produces outstanding work but was training a guy and he worked on my deer and there were some quality issues.
That's a great point, one of the best in the area (won many awards) does a class and uses some of the clients for students to work on. I had a buddy that paid almost $600 5+ years ago on his biggest buck and it came out looking like dog poop. Come to find out, he had a student do most of the work. The guy remounted it, but it never looked $600 worth.
 

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