About 7 years ago, my dad and my brother were hunting deer in Indiana County Pennsylvania. They stopped at a farm and asked for permission to hunt on the farmers land and the farmer told him that there was some deer hanging around in a little patch of trees below the house and to go down and shoot one or two of them if they wanted.
All this must have sounded like a fairy tale to them, but they figured it wouldn't cost them anything and the patch of woods wasn't all that big, maybe a acre or two and it wouldn't take them very long to push it out.
They kicked out a legal buck and my brother shot it.
When they walked up to it, it had a very unusual rack.
It had like 5 points on the one side and 2 on the other, but it had about a 30 inch spread.
A kid came riding down the road on his bicycle and they were pretty proud of the deer they had just harvested and wanted to show it to the kid. The kid remarked, that's nothing, my brother shot one over here the other day that was twice that big and pedaled off down the road..
Well they talked about it and finally agreed that it was a nice deer and he wanted to get it mounted, but it wasn't nice enough to pay someone $500 at that time to do it professionally.
There was a guy about 20 miles up the road that had a taxidermy studio that had an ad in the yellow pages and my brother called him and he said bring it over and I will only charge you $350.00
Now $350 is a lot better then $500 when you don't really care how good of a job he does.
My brother game him half down and got a receipt and a promise that he would complete it in a timely manner. 10 months went by and still no deer head. So my brother tried to contact the guy and found out that his phone was disconnected. So my brother did a little research and found a mutual friend and got the guys cell phone number. His wife answered the phone and after a couple of telephone conversations, she admitted that her husband never worked on his deer mount because he took the deposit and blew it on dope and beer and did not have the money to purchase the materials to complete the job. They got real smart with him and told him that if he looked on his receipt, it said that they could complete it when they choose and there was no set time limit.
One good thing about Pennsylvania is - all Taxidermists are licensed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. So all it took was one telephone call from me to get the whole situation straightened out.
I merely informed him that although I was not always on good terms with the local game wardens, I did know a couple of them and all it would take for him to get a visit from one of them was for him to get smart with me.
We worked out a deal where I brought him the money he needed to buy the materials to finish the deer mount and he did the work and then my brother paid him the remainder of the balance.. I think it came to $75 -- It does not take a lot of time to mount deer antlers to a Mannequin and it does not take a lot of time to put the eyes in or glue the hide to the Mannequin.. A good taxidermist can mount two deer heads a day, maybe 3 if he wanted to. A hack job taxidermist could probably mount 4 if he wanted to.
If your guy was sincere, he could do 150 mounts a year with no problems - just working on the weekends.
I shot a nice buck last year that did not have trophy antlers - but had a large body. I had shot my deer in the neck and did not want a patch job. I wanted to use the cape to mount a set of antlers from a deer I harvested in 1999.
My dad shot a nice buck the first Saturday of the rifle season and did not damage the cape. I held onto his cape for a couple of weeks, debating on whether or not to get it mounted last year, until finally it was no good for mounting.
With the economy as bad as it was, and with me not having a job, I couldn't justify $550 to mount a set of antlers that has been laying around the house for 10 years - just because I finally had the proper cape to do the job.
I had found a guy that was willing to do it for $100 less, and he admitted that he didn't like to do deer mounts, he limited his work for 150 deer a year, and that he did them as a living, not as a side job to make a little extra money. He liked to hunt and fish and he did not want to drag the process out over 10 or 11 months and he said that if I brought it over, he would have it back to me in 3 months or less.
If I would have had a disposable income, I definitely would have taken the antlers and the donor deer over to him to have them mounted.
Maybe these stories will give you a better idea of what kind of time frame you are looking at and what type of individuals you might be looking at in the future when it comes to getting something mounted and what to expect when you talk to them and what to look for and what to avoid when it comes to dealing with people who calls themselves taxidermists.
Hiring a taxidermist is a lot like hiring a carpenter to work on your house or hiring a mechanic to repair your automobile or going to a dentist. Except with a Taxidermist or a Dentist - once the work is done - it is pretty much permanent.