If you’ve ever shot a deer and looked for the best price on taxidermy, you know that shoulder mount prices are all over the board. Established taxidermy shops might charge $600 or $700, while the “guy down the street” is only looking for $300. What’s the difference (other than half), you ask?
Short answer: A lot. Long answer: Read on.
A quality deer shoulder mount will truly represent the deer you shot and evoke the memories of that special day for decades to come. Every time you look at the mount, you will be in that moment … that moment when the buck stepped out and you “lost your snot,” so to speak.
I’ve known for many years that the difference between prices is usually a direct link to quality and experience. What I did not know is the actual cost breakdown of what it takes for a taxidermist to get the job done on the business side of things. Here’s a closer look at that business model.
Cost Breakdown of a Deer Shoulder Mount
This covers the cost of the taxidermy form, ears, eyes, tanning process for the hide (cape) and other miscellaneous taxidermy materials.
Indirect costs: $60
This covers the building where the work is being done (rent), electricity, water, phone, internet, advertising, waste disposal, operation permits, etc.
This is a very conservative estimate of 8 hours of labor at $25 per hour.
This represents only a 25 percent mark-up, which is pretty low in the business world.
FINAL RETAIL PRICE: $487.50 plus state (and possibly local) taxes.
Taxidermy Cost Analysis
This is just a simple exercise for the cost of a simple whitetail deer mount. Some deer mounts require more expensive forms, other materials and (above all) additional labor. The best advice I can give anyway who is looking for a quality mount that will last a lifetime is to really do your homework on the taxidermist before you take your deer in to the shop. Study his or her work, ask for references, and view finished mounts in person before making the commitment.
The long story short is you should expect to pay a minimum of $500 for a quality deer mount, and don’t be surprised if that figure pushes to $600 or more. Having been on the receiving end of several really bad mounts over the years, I know full well that you get what you pay for when it comes to deer taxidermy mounts!