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.
“I use Bill Smith,” you tell your PH. “He’s a longtime friend and he’s done a good job for me.” More times than not, your PH will offer his advice. “I have a guy here who does a fabulous job. He’ll come pick up these trophies so you don’t have to worry about shipping. He’s much cheaper and I highly recommend him.”
By this point, you’ve become close to your PH. You respect his opinion and you certainly don’t want to disappoint him. So you agree. And that may be fine, but you need to understand what just happened behind the scene. There’s a particular reason your PH recommended this taxidermist — he gets a commission, a kickback, for every referral. It’s the unspoken economy of safaris around the world. Everyone is looking for a way to make more, and your PH has more influence on that decision than anyone else.
There’s absolutely no problem in following his instructions, as long as you understand that his primary motivation is money. Be very clear — his recommendation doesn’t mean that this is the best place for you to go. Commissions are increasing throughout the world as taxidermists scramble to stay busy by “buying” the work. It’s a shortcut, a workaround to conventions or buying ad space or building a reputation. In many cases, these are good people who do good work. But what is never spoken is the unseen financial arrangement. And to ensure you aren’t inadvertently blindsided — as has happened to our clients before (see here and here) — we recommend doing your homework, thinking for yourself, and making your decision before the hunt.
There is a caveat to the PH recommendation. If your PH recommends Animal Artistry, I can assure you, he has no financial motivation. He really believes you’re going to get a great mount. And that’s because we do not pay commissions. We never have, and we never will. It’s just not how we do things.
I have a great appreciation for outfitters who will forego a commission in order to send people to Animal Artistry. It’s high praise indeed, and we cannot thank you enough. We take it very seriously when clients come to us on such a recommendation, and our goal is exceed expectations every time. Give us a call for shipping tags before you go on your hunt, and our work finishing your hunt will make your experience even better.