The right taxidermist could be the last piece of becoming a true hunter.
In most areas around the country, hunting season is over. While some species are still fair game for a few more months, the biggest hunting opportunities – deer season, elk season, etc. – are now, along with the year 2013, in the rearview. Perhaps the 2013 hunting season brought you profit and good fortune in the shape of several high water mark kills. Perhaps your hunting season was disappointing and bare, marked by few game sightings and even fewer bull’s eye marks.
However, if you did manage to land a memorable kill this year, and if you are or were interested in preserving that animal as a trophy to be looked upon by you and your guests for years to come, you likely found yourself asking what the proper routine was for walking your animal through the various steps of taxidermy.
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Stuffing and preserving an animal can be a more difficult process than first-time hunters or outsiders initially realize. Not only do you have to find the perfect taxidermy specialist in your area – and trust us when we say that not all taxidermy artists are created equal – but you also have to figure out a way to transport your kill to that specialist’s place of business without damaging your trophy, choose a room in your house where your trophy will be situated, and then select the mount that best accentuates both the animal and the room in which it is set to reside.
The first and most important step to this process is, of course, choosing the taxidermist. Ideally, this step should be completed before you land a notable kill and before you require taxidermy services, since it can take a little while to track down the best animal preservation artist in your area.
The best thing to do, if you know any fellow hunters in your hometown, is to ask around for references and recommendations. A look through the yellow pages or a quick search on Google can probably show you any taxidermists operating within a given radius of your Zip code, but those sources generally won’t give you candid information that you can trust. When it comes to choosing a taxidermist, the tight-knit hunting community is the best resource out there.
Even if you don’t have hunting friends in your hometown – or have just moved to a new area and don’t know anyone yet – you can find a lot of information on the Internet. Hunters love to talk, and taxidermy is just one of the many topics.
Find your way to a taxidermy message board and pose the question, or Google around based on your location and try to find an active conversation on the topic. If you live in a small rural area, you may need to expand your search parameters a bit, but rest assured that a good taxidermist is worth the drive if you want your trophy to last.
Which brings us to the next step of the equation: transportation. First off, you will likely need to transport game with your vehicle. If you are fortunate enough to find a skilled taxidermist nearby, you may be able to negotiate for the pick up and transportation of your animal – if you are willing to pay an extra fee of course – but if you are driving a long way, you need to look into your state’s rules for transporting game. At the very least, make sure your game is properly tagged and tags are easily accessible.
READ MORE: How To Choose a Deer Processor
Once you’ve reached the taxidermist’s location, the hard parts of the process are over. The last thing left to do is to choose a mount that tastefully displays your kill, and this part is all up to your preferences for design and aesthetic.
Obviously a certain percentage of choosing a mount comes down to the species of the animal and the way you are having it preserved (Is it large or small? Are you keeping the whole animal or just the head?), but matching the color, the shape, and the overall appearance of the mount to the room where you will be displaying the animal should also be something you take into account.
Ultimately, you need to be happy with the end result of any taxidermy work you spend your hard-earned money and harvest on, so make sure you’ve taken the time to decide what you truly want.
And never be afraid to tell a taxidermist the truth; if they made you a great trophy you’re proud to display in your home, tell them. On the contrary, if they butchered the job, and your deer looks a little more like a weasel or a mouse, then you don’t have to pay the full price you agreed to. Be aware of particular guidelines, but for the most part, taxidermists shouldn’t accept money until the job is done right.