Tuesday, September 11, 2012

So You Have Your Trophies...Now What?

So far you've booked your own airline tickets, chosen your safari company wisely and successfully hunted the species you were after. Assuming that your skinners have caped out all of your trophy's and have salted the hides, they are at this point most likely rolled up and stored in a cool place. You now have nine or ten trophies (or more) sitting in your PH's meat house and you need to make some critical decisions, of which there is basically two. You can ship your hides home and have your taxidermy man do them, or, you can leave them in South Africa and have your trophy's mounted there and shipped back to the U.S.
I would like to discuss the pros & cons of each option and let the reader make his or her own decisions. Hopefully we can shed some light on this topic to make the decision a bit easier. 
I would like to state right off the bat that there is no wrong choice, it is simply a preference.
Cost is a big factor when choosing a taxidermist, but I can tell you with little uncertainty that ALL taxidermists charge more to mount African game. There's no reason for this other than the fact that they can. The forms are comparable in price to any North American game forms of the same size. The eyes are the same, as is the cost to tan the hide. Keeping this in mind, I recommend that you talk to your local taxidermist before you leave for your safari. Ask for a current price list and discuss the animals that you have in mind. Some guys specialize in African game mounts, some have never done one, some will tell you that they can do anything. Ask to see their portfolio and look at the African mounts that they have done.
There is considerable cost to having your hides shipped to the U.S. First off, they must be "dipped & packed". This is a process in which the local taxidermist in Africa will have to get involved with. The hides must be fleshed out and then soaked (dipped) in an antibacterial solution. From there the hide is salted again and dried to a nearly 100% which gives the hide the consistency of shoe leather. All skulls and horns are boiled and decontaminated. No meat can be left on the bone. This is a lengthy process mostly due to the fact that the hides are not delivered to the dip & pack company until the safari season is completely over. Only then do most safari operators deliver all of their clients hides at once. A friend of mine had his lion dipped, packed and shipped home to the tune of about $1,200 USD (and that was just one hide) The hunters other option is to leave your trophies with a Taxidermist in Africa. Personal experience has shown me that a hunter can save a considerable amount of money by going this route. I talked to one guy that had a full mount giraffe done in SA. The entire mount cost less than the price his local taxidermist wanted to charge him for just the form!
You can literally save thousands of dollars by having the work done there, and as an added bonus you can sleep well knowing that African game is all they do over there. But...as always there is a catch. You still need to have a big crate shipped to the U.S. and I can also tell you that "it ain't cheep". Although you will be surprised how many animal mounts they can fit into a custom built crate, you will pay not only for shipping, but for customs clearance (a broker) and then more shipping to your house from the main port of entry. I chose the later and still saved thousands of dollars. As in the U.S, the taxidermist will be asking you how you would like your trophies mounted. Unless your living in a mansion, this is something you may want to take into consideration. African game mounts can take up a lot of wall space so make sure you actually have that space. Many hunters opt to have European skull mounts done. This saves money and space. Also consider simply tanning the hides. I had my zebra hide tanned (as in a zebra rug) rather than have a wall mount. The cost was only a few hundred dollars and I feel that this type of display really shows the true beauty of this marvelous animal. Of course not all animals lend themselves to this type of display, you will have to decide for yourself. One thing to keep in mind if doing a shoulder mount is which way the animal will be looking. There are many different forms your taxidermist can use. Typically most hunters opt for a left or right turn. This allows the mount to be hung in a corner which saves space, and still face towards the onlookers. Some game, such as warthogs are almost always mounted straight. 

No comments:

Post a Comment