What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

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Mountain Man
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What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby Mountain Man » Thu May 06, 2010 5:18 am

I posted this on BBO a few months ago but I thought it also needed to be added to this site. Some of you may have read it over there. For anyone that hasn't seen it, it just shows what, IMO, a deer shoulder mount should cost.


In a recent poll I asked how much you would be willing to pay for a nice WT shoulder mount. Here are the results as of 2-15-10.

<$300 0
$300-$350 1
$350-$400 2
$400-$450 2
$450-$500 6
$500-$550 0
$550-$600 0
>$600 1

According to the poll almost everyone would pay between $300-$500 for a nice WT mount. I suspect this is b/c of what the people that took the poll have paid for their mounts or if they haven’t had one mounted yet that is what they would expect to pay.

I have looked at the numbers and I can’t figure out how a lot of taxi’s make much profit on a deer head or any other taxidermy work for that matter. Most people start a business to make money for themselves and make the business profitable. At $300-$500/head, even the part timer with not much overhead isn’t really making a lot of money. IMO it’s unfortunate that many taxi’s (especially the good ones that can make an animal look alive) can’t get paid what they really deserve. They have put in a lot of time and effort to get to the level they are at. IMO they should be rewarded for their effort where they can cover all of their costs, including making a respectable hourly wage, and make the business a decent profit.

So, here is the purpose of the 3 polls I did. I wanted to show what IMO a nice commercial deer head should really cost if taxidermists actually ran their taxidermy business like a real business and making a profit actually mattered. I suspect too many taxidermists don’t have a good handle on their material costs and they set their prices on the guy down the road, or they accept what amounts to little or no pay just to say they do taxidermy.

I want to keep this short and simple. I will use my cost of materials for a deer head of $175 and an hourly rate as determined by the poll – I will use an average of $27.50/hr which I think is a fair wage for a taxidermist that does all the work themselves (from the skinning through the finishing work, etc.) and does a nice job on the taxidermy. To make this easy let’s assume that a part-time taxidermist has determined his overhead is $12.50/hr. His shop rate is then $27.50+$12.50=$40.00/hr. Let’s assume that the total time he has into a deer mount for every aspect is 10 hours. Total cost into the deer is $175+$400=$575. Now the business needs to make a profit. Let’s use a 30% profit. $575x1.4285=$821.39. Add 5.1% sales tax in WI and the final cost to the customer is $821.39+$41.89=$863.28. That IMO is what the cost of a deer head should be for an experienced taxidermist that can produce a very nice commercial deer head where he is making a decent wage, can cover his overhead, and the business actually makes a profit.

Now if a taxidermist was full time they would probably have a higher overhead rate especially if they were single or the spouse didn’t work and had to pay for their own health insurance, retirement plan, paid vacation, shop rental, etc. (see list below for more overhead costs). Just as an example maybe he needs to have a shop rate of $50/hr ($27.50 hr rate +$22.50 overhead hourly rate=$50.00/hr). Let’s assume that he can mount a nice deer in 10 hours. Total cost into the deer is $175+$500=$675. Now the business needs to make a profit. Let’s use a 30% profit. $675x1.4285=$964.24. Add 5.1% sales tax in WI and the final cost to the customer is $964.24+$49.18=$1,013.42. :shock:

If you think these numbers are ridiculously high see what these guys are getting:

http://www.animalartistry.com/pb/na_sm/11_na_sm.php
There’s nothing special about that whitetail mount.

http://www.schaferstudiostaxidermy.com/ ... _List.html
Even with a US/Canadian exchange rate of 1/0.95 his deer mounts are still $1,195 Canadian/$1,135 US.

My examples of cost and what the guys at the links above are getting are very comparable.

You can play with the numbers and arrive at different amounts. Even if I used $20/hr + $5/hr overhead my costs would be $175+$250=$425x1.4285=$607.11. $607.11 + 30.96 in tax = $638.07 is way more than most would be willing to pay and yet after taxes my take home would be less than $20/hr.

Just for fun let’s say the local guy somehow only has $100 in supplies, and he can get by with a shop rate of $20/hr (assume $15/hr wage and $5/hr overhead). That’s a $300 deer head but there is no profit. He still has to pay taxes on his $15/hr wage. If full time I can pretty much guarantee any benefits are minimal if any. A 30% profit on a $300 deer head would make the cost $428.55 and with tax that would be about $450.41.

I think a lot of taxi’s don’t factor in or have underestimated the amount of overhead they have. The part time guy probably doesn’t have the same overhead costs as a full time guy and I understand every taxi’s situation is different but I thought I would list some of the overhead expenses that need to be considered – especially for a full time guy.

List of Overhead -
If full time - paid vacations
If full time - company vehicle?
If full time – health insurance
Retirement plan
Business Insurance part time or full time (Does your taxi have business insurance? – I would guess most don’t)
State taxidermy license if required
Trade magazine subscriptions (Breakthrough/Taxidermy Today)
State Assoc. annual dues
National Assoc. dues
Equipment maintenance (airbrush parts, compressor, crown stapler,etc.)
Equipment purchases (compressor, fleshing machine, tools, etc.)
References (photos, 3-D casts, etc.)
Website hosting fee
Advertising
Advanced training
Monthly internet
Credit Card/PayPal fees
Trade show fees
Stationary (check in sheet, receipts, contract)
Record Keeping including state sales and use tax forms
State and Federal Taxes
Time going to bank, paying bills
Time spent in the shop and on phone calls with customers
Time to buy salt in 80lb bags
Time to buy other supplies locally - Bondo, visqueen, screws, super glue, paper towels, spray cans of matte and gloss, etc.
Time to take photos of finished mount
Cleaning work areas
Phone
Utilities – Water, garbage pickup, electric, gas
Postage
Rent
Possible attorney fees
Inflation

Unfortunately, IMO almost all taxidermists don’t charge what they should (from a business perspective). Look at the hourly rates charged by other service industries (auto repair, plumber, etc.) and taxidermists are nowhere near what those industries charge for an hour of labor.

I guess the bottom line is if you have a taxidermist that can do a really nice deer head for somewhere between $400-600 you are getting an excellent deal (but the taxidermist probably isn’t).


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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby dan » Thu May 06, 2010 5:50 am

Good post
It makes a guy appreciate a taxidermist a little more.
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby Bucky » Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:21 pm

Thanks for putting things in perspective... I always wondered what material costs were. I always figured a taxi doing 500 heads/yr was making big $$$, but that doesn't factor in retirement/healthcare/etc
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Fri Dec 03, 2010 2:34 am

Informative post... Also means that euro mounts would look even prettier if taxidermy cost that much. Then again, I pay between $600 - $800 p/musky repro, but Joe and Rick build that mount from scratch and their paint job is the quality of a monet.

Plain and simple, supply doesn't exist without demand, and demand wouldn't exist if prices were nearly $1,000 p/deer head.
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby Brandon » Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:17 am

taxi materials dont cost nothing... maybe 80 bucks TOPS per head... and Ill tell you right now for 100% if taxis start charging more... upwards of 5-6... no one will get anything mounted. The guys like me who take 1 something a year... wouldnt do it... I pay 385 with 100 deposit on deer mounts.

Mine is a part timer who does 35 heads a year.

13.5k for a hobby sidejob isnt to shabby... and have never heard a taxi complain.
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby Mountain Man » Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:59 am

Brandon wrote:taxi materials dont cost nothing... maybe 80 bucks TOPS per head... and Ill tell you right now for 100% if taxis start charging more... upwards of 5-6... no one will get anything mounted. The guys like me who take 1 something a year... wouldnt do it... I pay 385 with 100 deposit on deer mounts.

Mine is a part timer who does 35 heads a year.

13.5k for a hobby sidejob isnt to shabby... and have never heard a taxi complain.


All I will say is the following:

1. I have a very good understanding of exactly what all of my material costs are for me to produce a very nice mount and that cost is well above $80.

2. Your taxi can charge what he wants since he is apparently happy with that number.

3. You must be happy with the work he does so you can keep paying $385 for the mounts, and

4. I will guarantee you he is not "making" $13.5K/year for a hobby/side job.
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:12 am

So what we've learned from this is having work done by someone who does this for a living may be more costly than getting in good with someone who does this as a passion on the side more for the sake of aiding their hobby than for the money.

If you find a small timer who does excellent work, you just might have landed yourself a heck of a deal and a solid friend to boot. I, too, am having a part-time taxi do my gun buck from this year. His prices are very reasonable and his turn around time is average 3-weeks, but he tells you 2 months just to be on the safe side if he gets tied up with other obligations, etc.

I can't wait to pick it up in a couple weeks, he does some of the best work I've seen around! I'll be sure to post pictures of it - not like the cell phone blurry grainy picture I posted of my latest musky repro (I'll have to post another one of that thing, too).

Thanks for all the info, MM, gives some perspective, no doubt.
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby Mountain Man » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:39 am

Sam Ubl wrote:So what we've learned from this is having work done by someone who does this for a living may be more costly than getting in good with someone who does this as a passion on the side more for the sake of aiding their hobby than for the money.


In general yes, but there are a lot of part timers that charge more than full timers.

Sam Ubl wrote:If you find a small timer who does excellent work, you just might have landed yourself a heck of a deal and a solid friend to boot. I, too, am having a part-time taxi do my gun buck from this year. His prices are very reasonable and his turn around time is average 3-weeks, but he tells you 2 months just to be on the safe side if he gets tied up with other obligations, etc.


Yes. The turn around time at 3 weeks seems a little fast but it's doable. My only concern with the quick turn around is if he uses dry preservative and you end up with a mount of "raw hide" that's been basically dehydrated. If he tans in house, and I hope that is what you are getting, then 3 weeks to 2 months is easily doable.

Sam Ubl wrote:I can't wait to pick it up in a couple weeks, he does some of the best work I've seen around! I'll be sure to post pictures of it - not like the cell phone blurry grainy picture I posted of my latest musky repro (I'll have to post another one of that thing, too).


I'd like to see it. I think I'll start a post for mounts of animals from the 2010 season. You could post a photo after the kill and then a photo of the mount.

Sam Ubl wrote:Thanks for all the info, MM, gives some perspective, no doubt.


You're welcome.
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby dan » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:52 am

taxi materials dont cost nothing... maybe 80 bucks TOPS per head...

I have dabled in Taxidermy And the "quality" forms alone are almost double what your saying all the materials cost.. I had a sponsorship at one time that I paid cost on materials only for my mounts and material costs where about $200.
I know from the taxidermy I did, that no way are these guys making what they deserve, and you get what you pay for for the most part...
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby Dor » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:56 am

dan wrote:
taxi materials dont cost nothing... maybe 80 bucks TOPS per head...

I have dabled in Taxidermy And the "quality" forms alone are almost double what your saying all the materials cost.. I had a sponsorship at one time that I paid cost on materials only for my mounts and material costs where about $200.
I know from the taxidermy I did, that no way are these guys making what they deserve, and you get what you pay for for the most part...

Agreed, but it would be tough to justify a 1000$ deer head every year.
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:22 am

Definitely a difference between forms. My taxi let's me sift through his form catelog with nearly 300 pages of different forms, but that's for a number of NAM animals. The taxidermist costs are listed on the pages (which is nice and helps me trust him), but the particular catelog he offers are great quality forms with muscle definitions and skin ripples from neck turns, etc.

The expensive details he will charge a little extra for, like mouth open lip curling, which requires some painting, or fixing a broken tine, etc.

MM, you were talking about eye dealers in Dan's white doe thread you were keeping active. The eye you got for Dan's deer was awesome and I see that quality in my taxi's work. In particular, by far the coolest feature he offers are the vein cards in the nose and ears. If I hold a flashlight to either, you can see the tiniest details - very neat.

Got to hand it to you, too, that white doe shoulder mount was IMPRESSIVE!
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby Dor » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:36 am

Cant find the finished white doe....got the link anyone?
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby dan » Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:24 am

Dor wrote:Cant find the finished white doe....got the link anyone?

End of the second page...
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby Wrinkleneck » Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:33 am

Not to hijack this topic but WOW !! That white doe looks awesome ;)
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Re: What a deer shoulder mount should cost - IMO

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:46 am

For sure it does!! Looks amazing 8-)
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