How to Choose a Deer Taxidermist

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Right now, a lot of hunters are getting their 2013 bucks back from the taxidermist. From the pictures of the shoulder mounts I have seen, most of the work has been good, but a few of the bucks have been average at best. Since you’ll pay $500 and up to mount that big 10-pointer you’ll kill this fall (think positive) you’ll want the taxidermy work to be in the good to excellent category.

Long-time BIG DEER blogger and great hunter Matt “Flatlander” Cheever says that now is the time to lay the groundwork and find a taxidermy shop. Flat sent us this list of things to look for 4 years ago, and it’s still great, solid advice:

Start looking around at studios now while their whitetail work is being finished up. Build a relationship with a taxidermist whose work you like; tell him you hope to bring him a big deer in a few months. That way when you call in the fall he isn’t thinking, Who is this guy? He’ll know you and know what you’ll expect in a mount.

Some other tips:

–find a taxidermist that listens to you and will mount your buck just the way you want so as to preserve your memories (it’s your buck, not his deer)

–drop by the studio every once in a while to chat and see what is going on. If there aren’t many heads being done he may be subbing out the work, and you don’t want that.

–the studio/shop will usually reflect a guy’s work; if it’s clean and organized you will likely get a good, detailed job.

–ask a taxidermist about his tanning practices; make sure he is cutting-edge in his procedures.

–talk to some of his regular and repeat customers; get references.

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What to look for in a deer mount:

–study various buck mounts in a shop and look closely at the faces.

–eyes should be opened the exact same amount and set straight across from each other

–ears should be naturally positioned

–nose should be tight and neat without flaring

–stand back and look–each buck should look as alive as possible

Last but not least, remember, you usually get what you pay for. Hope these tips help.—Flatlander

If you’ve recently gotten your buck back from the taxidermist and like it (from 2013 or a previous season)  shoot me a picture. I’d love to post a gallery of blogger buck mounts.

8 thoughts on “How to Choose a Deer Taxidermist

  1. All good advice!

    “–drop by the studio every once in a while to chat and see what is going on. ”

    I never really know proper taxidermy etiquette…if that was considered annoying to them, like you were looking over their shoulder?

  2. Annoying or not, you’re the person paying they’re bills. Anything less that cordial, find somebody else.

    • Yes Rodger I believe that is true; most people just go dump their buck off at a taxidermist without really doing much homework. I’ve done that before when I’m on the road and filming and don’t have time or want to spend the money to ship cape/rack back. Most of the time these “unknown” taxidermists do a very good job (I DO ask for references and try to see at least a sample of their work) but I have received more than one back that looked a little funky (bummer because I not only had to pay for the mount, but also crating and shipping, hundreds more). Do like Flatlander said, visit shops and look around till you find a taxidermist you like.

  3. Another thing to ask a taxidermist……Ask if he has anything he did from 10 to 15 years ago on display, or find someone who had work done a few years ago. You want your mount to last a life time, and then hand it down to the future hunters in your family. I’ve seen many mounts that look great at first, but after about 10 years, not so good. One other thing, take care of your mounts once you have then on the wall, but that is a whole new story. Maybe Mike could run a story on proper cleaning and upkeep of mounted deer.

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