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Taxidermist: Friend or Foe?

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“Characterize people by their actions and you will never be fooled by their words.” I like to use this anonymous quote when dealing with people you have built little background with. (Actions speak louder than words.)

A Taxidermist can preserve your fantastic hunt memories or mutilate your efforts to recall those mental snapshots that we try to retain in tangible possessions. Luckily, I have more positive experiences with these animal stuffers than negative. I feel those Taxidermists I’ve had poor outcomes with were due to choices based on price and convenience… and it usually didn’t pay out mutually beneficial.

A Forum allows participants a medium where ideas and views can be exchanged to help / learn from each other. I hope sharing my experience will assist others in comparing & choosing reliable Taxidermists. I enjoy giving credit where credit is due (Authentic Taxidermy in Chino Valley!) and usually let lesser people get what they deserve without criticism. But today’s taxidermy dialog got me writing this to expose terrible business practices so others don’t fall to the same poor customer service I received. Especially when these “professionals” subcontract their work out at a 33% profit margin and just collect the cash. Specifically I’m calling out Southwest Wildlife Taxidermy- Jim Hartsock. A brick and mortar, long established, well advertised company who forgot about customer service. You can say all you want about how Jim may have treated you well in the past (Or) maybe he just had a bad day today. But that was then and this is now. No matter what business your in and feat you have served… you will only be remembered for your last action. Regardless of Covid setbacks!

  • Dropped hide on 2/25/21, paid 1/3 down payment, and was promised 10mo for a “simple” javelina rug;
  • At 12mo I made a phone call to inquire about the progress only to hear Jim’s business phone message stating, “We are not answering the phone because it takes away from working on your project.”;
  • At 12mo I sent a documented email to Jim asking for info on the completion. I got the general response of how tanneries are backlogged 11mo and suppliers backlogged 2-3mo. All taxidermy completion is now expected 16-18mo from time of drop off;
  • 4/5/22 I called Jim’s rug subcontractor and was told they did not have my javelina;
  • 5/2/22 Jim actually answered his business phone and proceeded to tell me that he delivered my javelina tanned hide to the subcontractor over “last weekend”. But after hearing my feedback on the completion delay and how other reputable taxidermists were turning out half mounts in 6mo, Jim said he will get the hide back from the subcontractor and “mail” it to me. Furthermore telling me calling him was, “wasting his time”. Jim was essentially washing his hands of any commitment to completion. Even after 1/3 down payment provided 14mo ago;
  • I called his rug subcontractor and was emphatically informed that the javelina was not at their establishment;
  • Jim learned that I called the rug contractor and called me to advise the hide was still at his shop. So who knows when the hide was sent to the tannery and when it was received back in Scottsdale?;
  • After confirming I owed no further money for work or supplies, I picked up the tanned hide today from Jim. Biting my tongue to a bloody lump of flesh so I wouldn’t regret any off color statements about his ethics;
  • I then dropped off a frozen Turkey to a bird Taxidermist & proceeded to deliver the tanned Javelina and a second frozen Javelina to the rug Specialist. Pure satisfaction while executing choices to whom I choose to do business with! Never again with Southwest Wildlife Taxidermy LLC.

I hope my negative experience and illustration of Jim’s “IDC” attitude guides you to a positive selection to materialize those memories we Hunters seek through taxidermy. It’s too early to endorse my choices of Bird Specialist and Rug Specialist, but I will continue this forum after seeing their work. Yet their Customer Service over the phone and in person leads me to believe it was essential to cut ties with Jim Hartsock.

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When a taxidermist feeds you the line that the tanneries are backed up for “x” amount of time, it’s a lie. They wait until they have a PILE of capes to send off so they can save on shipping and the just basically always use that as the their excuse. 

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I do believe he is the only official inspector of Goulds (any birds) brought in from Mexico recognized by the USDA.

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Your bad experience with a taxidermist is a breeze compared to the two bad ones I’ve had!!!  I’m a little more patient but in both cases I ended up out my deposit and happy to have my not even started heads back 3 and 4 years later respectively.  Never again will I get any work done anywhere other then my guy here in town.  

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I can vouch for Jim he is a good guy. Sometimes taxidermists get behind. It’s good to stay in touch with them for this reason.

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5 hours ago, GreyGhost85 said:

When a taxidermist feeds you the line that the tanneries are backed up for “x” amount of time, it’s a lie. They wait until they have a PILE of capes to send off so they can save on shipping and the just basically always use that as the their excuse. 

I have first hand experience that tanneries do get behind and lead times are not always as stated. I am not sticking up for the above taxidermist in any way but through all of this covid BS, things are not the same in any industry. I will also say there is a big difference in the quality of the tanning from pre-covid to now. I see a lot more holes in capes now than the year prior to covid. I only have one year of experience with this before, but I assume that is due to having to hire new employees and the learning curve involved.

McKenzie and others are back ordered on a lot of forms. I ordered a bear form over a month and a half ago and still haven't received it. I received 10 other forms that were ordered but not that one. 2 years ago it would have been to our house in a week. Again things are not the same anymore. 

Taxidermist's tend to take on more work than they can handle. Its hard to say no to money. I'm sure most of us can agree on that. I am going through the same deal myself right now. 

My wife and I have been trying to start a taxidermy business for the last 4 years. I've done euro mounts for probably 6-7 years now. I work a full time job M-F, and most of the time work more hours than I care to. Luckily my wife is a rockstar and is the one that has done all of the shoulder mounts that have come in (all friends or co-workers that know we are still learning). In the little time that we have been doing this, we have seen how hard it can be. 

Posts like this make me realize that I could quit my job and probably be able to make it work, but that's a tough thing to do. Like I stated earlier, I like money and having a steady income is important to me. Customers are also important to me.  

Sorry for the rant. I can tell you this, if you called me to inquire about your mount, I would be honest with you and tell you what's going on with it. I feel honesty is the best policy, even if that makes you upset. 

     

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Better then my 2012 experience with a desert hills Taxyderm I want a full hide from a deer and all got back was a square hide with 1/4 of the hair missing and a bad smell that take 2 years to get it so that was $300 for my lesson to never take anything else to this guy 

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1 hour ago, briant_az said:

I have first hand experience that tanneries do get behind and lead times are not always as stated. I am not sticking up for the above taxidermist in any way but through all of this covid BS, things are not the same in any industry. I will also say there is a big difference in the quality of the tanning from pre-covid to now. I see a lot more holes in capes now than the year prior to covid. I only have one year of experience with this before, but I assume that is due to having to hire new employees and the learning curve involved.

McKenzie and others are back ordered on a lot of forms. I ordered a bear form over a month and a half ago and still haven't received it. I received 10 other forms that were ordered but not that one. 2 years ago it would have been to our house in a week. Again things are not the same anymore. 

Taxidermist's tend to take on more work than they can handle. Its hard to say no to money. I'm sure most of us can agree on that. I am going through the same deal myself right now. 

My wife and I have been trying to start a taxidermy business for the last 4 years. I've done euro mounts for probably 6-7 years now. I work a full time job M-F, and most of the time work more hours than I care to. Luckily my wife is a rockstar and is the one that has done all of the shoulder mounts that have come in (all friends or co-workers that know we are still learning). In the little time that we have been doing this, we have seen how hard it can be. 

Posts like this make me realize that I could quit my job and probably be able to make it work, but that's a tough thing to do. Like I stated earlier, I like money and having a steady income is important to me. Customers are also important to me.  

Sorry for the rant. I can tell you this, if you called me to inquire about your mount, I would be honest with you and tell you what's going on with it. I feel honesty is the best policy, even if that makes you upset. 

     

Custom work no matter the trade requires time and customer service! As soon as it gets subbed out it takes a step back from "custom" work.

Some specialty areas are more easily subbed out with no regrets while others are hard to match.

When I was running my own custom cabinet shop it was a very unpredictable circus act taking deposits for jobs and making sure I had the time to meet customer satisfaction. You don't always get it right but you know after a couple of blunders how to manage/schedule jobs.

When I went from full time cabinets to teaching and part time cabinets it was interesting how the jobs fell. I out front told people that I would not take on a full size kitchen during school months because the job plus coaching there was no way I was going to keep people happy. Through covid I had a customer that wanted another kitchen from me, I had previously built three for this lady. I told her I could start May 1st 2020.........................she had doors for her remodel job on her house that didn't come in until August 10.......she put them in storage and she waited until May 2021 for me to work on her kitchen and house!

I realize this is a person that had the time to wait......the point is when you make customers happy.......they will come back!!!!

Good luck in trying to balance out real job and taxidermy! My wife is the only person I ever had work for me on cabinets and I knew her work was always going to be quality!!!

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I’ve only met 2 taxidermists in my life that “should” be operating a business.  Being able to do the work is the easy part, anyone who’s run a business knows that the hard part is the business end of it.  Taxidermy seems to draw a special crowd of folks who are exceptionally terrible at business.  

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13 minutes ago, yotebuster said:

I’ve only met 2 taxidermists in my life that “should” be operating a business.  Being able to do the work is the easy part, anyone who’s run a business knows that the hard part is the business end of it.  Taxidermy seems to draw a special crowd of folks who are exceptionally terrible at business.  

I think you are absolutely right about this! Maybe I need to take some business classes! This is not my first business and I know I have made some mistakes in my previous one. The one thing I know I did right was take care of my customers. When I sold that business I had a lot of people angry with me. The new owner DID NOT do the job the way I did and lost a lot of customers because of it. 

 

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IMO, the major problem in the OP wasn't that the taxidermist, tannery, milkman, candlestick maker or whoever got behind, it was the consistent LIES used to make excuses.

That said, we've heard only one side of the story, of course. 

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Jim deals with high $ people and alot of Africa stuff too . I bet  your just at the bottom of the totem pole thats all. Don't know him ,never heard nothing bad about him, not endorsing him. I wouldn't use him cause i am a regular folk. Got lotsa stuff and $ he probly is the guy.

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33 minutes ago, naturebob said:

Jim deals with high $ people and alot of Africa stuff too . I bet  your just at the bottom of the totem pole thats all. Don't know him ,never heard nothing bad about him, not endorsing him. I wouldn't use him cause i am a regular folk. Got lotsa stuff and $ he probly is the guy.

Nothing I hate worse than someone thinking my project isn't as important as some high$ person :) but you are probably PDA!

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Sorry ,not with the times ,don't know what PDA means, LOL!

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