Tanning: The most important step and the foundation for a quality mount. Tanning is the most important aspect of your mount because only a properly tanned and shaved skin will last forever and not crack or dry out or lose hair. Some taxidermists do their own tanning, which is a concern. If they are experienced veterans of taxidermy, then they might one of the few who have figured out how to accomplish a quality tan. If they say they do their own tanning, here are a few questions to ask.
A-Do you use a fleshing machine and tumbler? If they do, then that is a good sign.
B-Do you use dry preservative? If they say yes, run for the hills. DP is trash for anything larger than a fox.
C-Do you send your hides to a tannery? If yes, that is a good sign.
That means your taxidermist is sending your skins to a professional who
specializes in tanning. Even a bad tannery is better than most of the
best taxidermy self-tans.
If you are trying out a new taxidermist, then ask him for references. Just like outfitters, a good taxidermist will have plenty of references to offer you so you can check on them. It is not rude to ask and it shows that you care about your taxidermy
Consider price carefully, remember the saying "you get what you pay for"?
Quality is price. Pay for the best quality you can afford. You already spent a lot of time and money to bag your trophy. Why would you shop for a cheap price over the phone?
Above all, make an appointment to meet with a Professional Taxidermist. Go to the Studio, see his/her work. Does he want your lifetime business or just another check?
If you ever have (even unspoken) thoughts that taxidermists charge
too much, do a "taxidermist appreciation" tour and see how mind-numbing some of the prep work can be - thinning the eyes, lips, nose; sewing the little nicks and holes, preparing the form. When you realize how much can go into a trophy, you have a much better appreciation of their price structure. It's SO much more than a form, some putty, hide paste, and some sewing! Prices also vary depending on the quality of the work being put into your trophy. We commercially tan all of our mammals, use high quality ear liners (no "bondo" ears), eyes, and the best hide past available to assure your trophy will last a life time.
What should I ask my Taxidermist?
Ask your Taxidermist what happens in case of fire or water damage while your trophy is in their possession. A reputable taxidermist will be fully licensed and insured so any loss will be covered.
Ask your taxidermist what he/she does to improve his work and keep updated on the latest technologies and techniques. Most really good taxidermist are always learning. They take seminars, they compete in taxidermy competitions, they exchange methods through forums and books, and
they have subscriptions to industry literature and magazines. If your taxidermist is not well established, then
they should be doing most of the above mentioned.