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Hiker on a trail in the forest

My Apologies — A Second Take on the Real Hunter

In a previous post, it occurs to me that I came down pretty hard on the modern hunter who uses all the modern technologies at our disposal. In retrospect, I realize that I grossly overstated my position. The world, in fact, has changed so much and hunting has not been left out of that change. Today, I’m sharing my apologies and a second take on the idea of the real hunter.

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Mounted bison

In Wildlife Art, There’s No Substitute for Actually Being There

At a very early age, I began to travel the world to hunt big game. In spite of the criticism from family and adults in my life who felt that my behavior was irresponsible and would cost me as I got older in terms of education and buying a home, I persisted. I traveled the world, hunting from the Artic to Africa to Asia. And what I didn’t realize at the time was how this personal experience would shape my future career as a taxidermist. In wildlife art, you see, there is no substitute for actually being there.

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Man in taxidermy garage

Still Standing Tall

The only certainty during these uncertain times is that no one knows quite what we’re dealing with — or for long it will last. When the shelter-in-place orders began taking hold across the country and around the world, Animal Artistry founder Mike Boyce wrote a post about choosing bravery in the face of uncertainty. Now, three months into a new normal and in spite of the negative effects of the pandemic, Animal Artistry is still standing and doing well.

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Rhino

Three Tips if You’re Weighing Taxidermy as a Career Path

After decades in the taxidermy industry, I’m often asked what it takes to be successful as a taxidermist. In the case of Animal Artistry, luck and timing certainly can’t be overlooked, but a solid business model and the ability to think on our feet have both been critical. Here are three tips if you’re weighing taxidermy as a career path.

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Ox Ranch

A Professional Hunter’s Review of Ox Ranch

Last week we published a post about Ox Ranch, a fair-chase game ranch in Texas measuring nearly 20,000 acres. Although we recognize and respect that to some hunters, a ranch can’t offer “real” hunting, it’s nonetheless an option during these extraordinary times. And, all things considered, it’s a pretty amazing option. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what professional African hunter John Abraham has to say about the Ox Ranch experience after a recent visit.

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Zebra

The Animal Nation

We as humans are quite proud of the fact that we are the dominant species, the most sophisticated, and that we have accomplished more than any other creature on the planet. While there is an element of truth in all of that, there is also the reality that we have lost a great deal in the process.

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Ox Ranch

A Hunting Ranch for the Whole Family

Ox Ranch is a fair-chase game ranch in Texas measuring nearly 20,000 acres — a scale that’s truly unheard of in game ranching. Most game ranches are between 1,000 and 5,000 acres. Here’s the difference — once you’re on that property, you’re in the wild. And it’s a truly magnificent property, in the hill country of Texas. That means riv-ers, ponds, rolling hills, and lodgings and accommodations that rival some of the finest resorts in the world. Plus, there are activities for the whole family, including hand-feeding giraffes, 4x4 off roading, kayaking, jet skiing, stargazing, cave exploring, and much more.

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Brown Bear 'After'

You Guys Once Saved My Brown Bear!

Animal Artistry is proud to offer remounting services for trophies that have never done justice to the hunt. Recently, we sent out an email highlighting this service, and our client Roger responded with this: “Great idea! You guys once saved my brown bear!” It brought the whole story back to us, and it’s worth sharing here.

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Lion & Vulture

For Love or Money — Advice from Mike Boyce of Animal Artistry

The last forty years have taught me many lessons, and I’d be hard-pressed to decide which is the most valuable. But an enduring theme in life — particularly now, during this global pandemic — is the value of work for work’s sake. Here’s what I’ve learned: if we do things primarily for money, it’s never enough, and we’re never satisfied. If we do things because we love it, the process itself is very gratifying, and eventually, the money shows up.

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Lion & Vulture

Cost and Value in the World of Taxidermy

There’s a stubborn misconception that the lower the cost of something, the better the deal. It sounds good, maybe, but the concept almost always falls apart as soon as you apply it to the real world. That’s when you discover the truth — usually, you get what you pay for, and the lower the cost, the lower the value of whatever you’re buying. It’s true with food, hotels, jewelry, and, yes, taxidermy. It’s the last one that matters for our purposes, so here’s what to understand about cost and value in the world of taxidermy.

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Tough Times Don't Last

Tough Times Don't Last

But tough people do. It’s a great statement, and it’s more relevant now than ever before. We’re living through an uncertain time in world history. The natural reaction is fear — a response that’s simply part of our DNA. Everything in our culture is now fanning the flames of fear, but we do have a choice.

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Wyoming Taxidermist

Our Favorite Wyoming Taxidermist

When you’ve been in the industry for 30 years, you make a lot of connections. In our time, we’ve been very fortunate to work with truly exceptional artists who cut their teeth in our studio before launching out on their own. It’s the nature of the business, and we always wish them well. One of these artists is Dawayne Dewey, who has truly become our favorite Wyoming taxidermist.

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Lion and Zebra Display

After the Hunt and Behind the Scene

Picture this — you’re halfway around the world, sitting by the campfire, working on your second Scotch. The night sounds are just becoming audible as the stars start to peek out. You’ve had a wonderful safari. Your professional hunter has worked hard to make sure you got the animals you were after and they’re in the skinning shed waiting to be shipped. Life is good! And then your PH asks a casual question. Where are you going to have your animals mounted? It’s the start of an exchange with much more going on than it seems.

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Rhino

Big Game Animals — A Tragic Casualty of the Coronavirus

Last week, CNN published an article about the safari industry and the unique hardships it faces in light of the global pandemic. It’s a comprehensive overview that addresses logistics and financial worries, but the part that stood out to me was a comment about poaching. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the truth is that the safari industry is the only hope for big game animals. Without it, these beautiful animals may be another tragic casualty of the coronavirus.

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trophy room

“In a League By Itself” — An Animal Artistry Review

Brook Minx is an avid outdoorsmen, and he’s traveled all over the world to hunt. After his first African safari in Zambia, he used a taxidermist in his home state of Texas. A few months later, at a Safari Club International convention, he saw Animal Artistry — and it changed everything. “Their work was in a league by itself,” he says. “It showed emotion, fear, aggression — it just blew me away!”

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Cabela's Diarama

How the First Cabela’s Store Changed the Taxidermy Industry Forever

There are many wonderful stories in our forty-year history, and one of our favorites began with a phone call in 1994. It was the GM of Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter, explaining that the mail-order company was opening its very first retail store in Sidney, Nebraska, and asking if we could provide some mounts for a large concrete wall in the facility. When the conversation began with Dick and Jim Cabela, Mike told them he thought he could do better that heads on a wall — that he had an idea. This is the story of how the first Cabela’s store changed the taxidermy industry forever.

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lions remounted

A New Life for Old Mounts

Like any industry, taxidermy has its share of unhappy customers — and for good reason. In some cases, it’s the prolonged delay in waiting for a finished piece, and in others, it’s a subpar mount that simply does no justice to the experience of the hunt. Fortunately, there is good news. Animal Artistry has a knack for breathing new life into old mounts, and the difference, according to one happy customer, is like “night and day.”

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Deer Mount

The Biggest Misconception About Animal Artistry

At Safari Club International’s recent show here in Reno, Nevada, we had the pleasure of touring the convention. It was an opportunity to visit with past clients, meet new clients, and visit with outfitters from all over the world. As we discussed potential projects and price points, the reaction was very similar – stunned surprise. It confirms what we have long suspected – the biggest misconception about Animal Artistry is that we’re far too expensive for the average hunter.

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Take a Hike

Opportunity in the Midst of the Pandemic

These are unsettling times. Each day brings worrisome news relating to COVID-19, from state-wide shutdowns to economic fears. And yet, in the midst of it, we hear stories of the good — restaurants opening their pantries, neighbors checking in one another, and people embracing the idea of slowing down and remembering what’s important. To me, it’s the perfect time for a hunt.

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Mike working on bronze sculptures

A Day In the Life – Meet Mike Boyce of Animal Artistry

Animal Artistry has a wonderful back story – the midlife crisis, the closed-to-condemned building, the concept of animals in motion and the incredible response. And thirty years later, the business has earned its spot as a true American success story. It’s the kind of story people like hearing, which is why today, we’re sharing a day in the life of Mike Boyce, owner and founder of Animal Artistry.

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hunter hiking

Where Did All the Real Hunters Go?

No one escapes progress, and hunting appears to be no exception. But I’d be hard-pressed to call the changes in hunting progress. This tech-heavy world of scopes and trail cameras and ATVs has altered the essence of hunting so much it’s hardly recognizable to what we did fifty, forty, even thirty years ago. And it makes me wonder — where did all the real hunters go?

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taxidermist working

The Dirty Secret of the Taxidermy Industry

I had a phone call recently with a man who was absolutely irate about the way he’s been treated by taxidermists. It’s a common complaint – despite multiple phone calls and reassurances and promises about a six-month completion date, his hides are sitting another year at least. And that’s not the exception – it’s the rule. The dirty secret of the taxidermy secret is that most taxidermists got into the business without any idea of what it actually takes to run the business. That’s the root of most of its problems.

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cost of good taxidermy

What Does Good Taxidermy Cost?

When it comes time to choose a taxidermist, you have endless options. From single-man operations to world-class studios and everything in between, navigating the industry is a job in itself. For many of us, price point is a big consideration. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and that’s absolutely true when it comes to your mount. So what does good taxidermy cost?

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why wait while your animals sit

What Happens to my Taxidermy Deposit?

It’s common practice for taxidermists big and small to request a deposit. In theory, it’s money that will be spent on necessities for your mount. But in practice, that’s not always the case. Here’s what to understand about your taxidermy deposit, and why that money is long gone if you haven’t received your finished mount in six months.

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why wait while your animals sit

The Taxidermy Delay – What are You Waiting For?

At the Safari Club International convention here in Reno this February, we had the opportunity to speak with many people. What was striking was the number of hunters who shared versions of the same story – the immense delays they were experiencing with their current taxidermists. It’s a common complaint, but it begs the questions – when it comes to taxidermy, what are you waiting for?

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sci antelope display

Safari Club International 2020 — A Review from Animal Artistry

The Safari Club International convention this year was exceptional on every front. After doing these conventions for 30 years, this was by far the best one yet — and that’s saying something. In addition to browsing the wonderful collection of exhibitors, the team from Animal Artistry had the chance to meet with outfitters from all around the world, many of whom owner Mike Boyce has hunted with and known for many years.

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Why We Hunt

Why the Best Animal Trophies Begin with Proper Field Care

There was a time when proper field care was a matter of honor and respect. Unfortunately, that no longer seems to be the case for the majority of hunters today. Many outfitters do the bare minimum, with hunters not knowing the difference, or everyone assumes someone else along the line will handle it. Poor field care is a sad and all-too-common statement about hunting today, and it means that many great trophy skins are lost before they even begin.

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Why We Hunt

A Deeper Meaning Behind the Hunt and the Trophy

As a taxidermy studio, Animal Artistry began as a way to share experiences — those of the animal itself, and those of the hunt. Hunting was once essential for survival, with food, shelter, and clothing the fruits of a successful hunt. But for people in much of the world, these necessities have long been accessible without hunting. And that begs the question — why do we still hunt>? There are simple answers, but there is a deeper meaning to both the hunt and the trophy.

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Scott Thompson

A Customer’s Review of Animal Artistry — “I Was Blown Away!”

At one time, international hunter Scott Thompson was under the common misconception to which many hunters fall victim — the belief that taxidermy performed in the countries they hunt is the key to beautiful, well-priced trophies. After a series of disappointing mounts, Scott found Animal Artistry — for him, a local company. It was the beginning of an eye-opening experience.

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Why Does Taxidermy Take So Long?

With an industry standard anywhere from eight months to two and even three years, taxidermy is a master class in patience. Unfortunately, the length of time it takes to get a trophy back from a taxidermy studio is often long and frustrating. But why does taxidermy take so long? It’s often as simple as poor management and insufficient business savvy. Here’s what to understand about the taxidermy industry and why turnaround time is so lengthy.

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Taxidermy Mounts — Classic vs Custom

Today’s taxidermy can be sorted into two categories — classic mounts and custom mounts. For the international sportsman or the weekend hunter, understanding the difference between the two is an important first step to an exceptional trophy. Here’s what sets the custom mounts apart from the classic mounts, and why our version of both options stands apart.

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In Taxidermy, Is Bigger Really Better?

Animal Artistry is known across the globe for exceptional taxidermy, a fact that has its benefits and drawbacks. On the plus side, it means we have the opportunity to work on truly amazing projects for clients from all over the world. Our reputation precedes us, and while we’re proud to have earned it, it can be a double-edged sword. The same reputation that leads international sportsmen to us can also give people the impression that a large, internationally recognized taxidermy company is simply over the top for their needs. The truth is that in taxidermy, bigger really is better. Here’s why.

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