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Foreign trophy processing problems

OntarioHunter

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The moral of this story is know that you are vulnerable when dealing with taxidermy long distance. They know how much you have already monetarily invested in that trophy and they know the sentimental value can be priceless. The taxidermist is in the cat bird seat once you give the trophy to them. If at all avoidable, never make payment in full up front. Pay for materials. That's enough. And it only takes a few minutes on the net to figure out what materials will cost. Final payment will only be made when the client has either seen the finished product at showroom or photos. I was compelled to pay full amount up front because there were no materials involved and the full amount was not excessive anyway. But I made it clear enough in the conference call that approval of photos was required before packing the stuff. Three months later I didn't know the trophies were finished until they were sitting in the freight company's warehouse! Someone did snap a couple of photos of the shipment just as packing was completed "for insurance purposes" and those were emailed to me after the fact. At least it looks like the buffalo skull was done properly this time.
 

OntarioHunter

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Hunt in North America and control your own destiny.
If you shoot a moose in the Yukon you're still dealing with cross border transportation and inspections (though much friendlier on the US side). If the outfitter is able to handle everything to your door, great. But that's unlikely. There's still pitfalls no matter where you shoot the trophy. We are vulnerable. Take measures to minimize the vulnerability ... and hope for the best.

As to hunting North America instead of Africa: During just the first morning hunt last August I saw several hundred animals of at least a dozen different species. There is nothing anywhere in North America that can compare to that. August hunting trip cost me right around $20K including taxidermy. Airfare was about $1500 more as I recall. That was eight trophies plus three "management" culls (freebies). Keep in mind one animal, the buffalo, was ten grand by itself. A strictly plains game safari can be very affordable, especially for package deals, especially right now. The trophy fees for a free roaming spectacular kudu bull is usually around $1200. Gemsbuck about the same. And you can shoot as many as your budget allows. No waiting for years to draw a once in a lifetime tag, buying points, trespass fees, blah, blah. Don't tell me a shoulder mount kudu doesn't totally blow the doors off a shoulder mount elk! No comparison. I see package deals for five animals at less than three grand (what's a Montana nonresident elk license these days?). Includes everything but taxidermy and flight. Typically the five animals in a plains game package are impala, blesbuck, springbuck, wildebeest, and either kudu, gemsbuck, or zebra. The icing on the cake, of course, is experiencing very different geography and culture. 20210823_163525.jpg
 

MTLabrador

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Don't tell me a shoulder mount kudu doesn't totally blow the doors off a shoulder mount elk!
I get that different people have different opinions, but no. I will tell you that a shoulder mounted kudu doesn’t blow the doors off of a nice elk euro mount, or even just a raghorn skull cap in the garage. At least for me.
 

F250

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I’ve shot lots of deer and caribou in Canada. Never had any problems at the border as I am prepared when I get there. I have seen many hundreds of caribou during a week of hunting.
 

OntarioHunter

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I’ve shot lots of deer and caribou in Canada. Never had any problems at the border as I am prepared when I get there. I have seen many hundreds of caribou during a week of hunting.
Let's see ... what animals did I see just the first morning of hunting? About fifty buffalo (what I was after), dozens of red hartbeest (what I shot that day), maybe a dozen each roan and sable, hundreds of springbuck, just a few black impala (surprising only a few), I don't how many herds of gemsbuck and zebra (they usually run together), blue and black wildebeest were everywhere in small groups, three golden wildebeest, one decent kudu bull and three cows, five giraffe, about two dozen eland. Also a lone tsesebe(sp). That was an unexpected treat. There are some nice waterbuck on this property but didn't see any during the three days we hunted it. I would be surprised if you saw more caribou during a week than I did springbuck in a day. They are thick as gophers, literally.
 

OntarioHunter

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I’ve shot lots of deer and caribou in Canada. Never had any problems at the border as I am prepared when I get there. I have seen many hundreds of caribou during a week of hunting.
The reason for all the red tape bringing stuff into North America from overseas is the prevalence of exotic diseases and parasites. For example, historically South Africa has had problems with hoof and mouth disease. You can imagine how difficult an outbreak can be to control or even detect with so much wild game running around. South Africa wants their stuff inspected before export so theoretically they have a leg to stand on if some country wanting to protect its hunting industry tries to make false claims of contamination when trophies are imported. South Africa can then blame the importing country of playing politics.
 

NoWiser

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A shoulder mount kudu doesn't blow the doors off anything in North America. Plus, you can eat what you hunt here. And you don't need to hire a professional hunter to take you. Just my opinion.
 

F250

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Awesome. So you shoot a bunch of animals you can’t eat, got screwed by a taxidermist twice, screwed by a shipper, paid $$$$$$ to kill these animals, and ended up with some mounts ruined and some not yours ?!?! Holy crap !!! Sign me up for that adventure !!!
 

OntarioHunter

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I get that different people have different opinions, but no. I will tell you that a shoulder mounted kudu doesn’t blow the doors off of a nice elk euro mount, or even just a raghorn skull cap in the garage. At least for me.
Euro mount is a toss-up, but kudu euro is a LOT easier to display than a big elk rack. I know all about that. Two big elk cap mounts take up most of the trophy room. Kudu and gemsbuck euros fit in one corner. 20210627_175243.jpg 20210402_110825.jpg 20201010_113425.jpg
 
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OntarioHunter

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Awesome. So you shoot a bunch of animals you can’t eat, got screwed by a taxidermist twice, screwed by a shipper, paid $$$$$$ to kill these animals, and ended up with some mounts ruined and some not yours ?!?! Holy crap !!! Sign me up for that adventure !
Somehow I don't think you would have ever signed up anyway. I do get to eat wild meat while I'm there. Gemsbuck is bar none the best red meat I've ever eaten and I hear springbuck is better. Kudu is good but not fantastic. No mounts were "ruined." I was even able salvage the kudu skull and make it look almost passable. The buffalo skull probably looked better missing all its teeth than a few that had obviously been gone for a long time (receeded gums). Per animal, with the exception of buffalo, the trophy fees price tag was affordable compared to North American nonresident licenses. The package deal I quoted includes PH fees. A good PH is worth his weight in gold. He knows the animals, the terrain, and the landowners. I generally prefer to hunt alone but wouldn't dream of it there even if it was legal. The wildebeest hide was not mine for sure but I wasn't terribly upset. It's just a decoration anyway. It was my daughter's request then she changed her mind after it arrived. The taxidermist was SUPPOSED to have been sorted out this time. Shithead taxidermists abound everywhere. My daughter and I clean up their messes on a regular basis. That is the point of the thread. No matter if the guy is down the street or on the other side of the world, we are vulnerable. They know what the trophy means to us and they can take advantage once it's in their hands. Plan for it.
 

dgc1963

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Ontariohunter can I ask who you went with in Arica Im looking to book a hunt in 24 doing research on 2 outfits now
Yes you cant bring the meat back you do eat it their and then most goes to local communities helping out a great deal depending on where it is they do not get a lot of meat and the donations are huge to them during the year
So dont rag on not bring the meat back unless you know all the details it can be a life saver to local folks over their its not wasted
 

OntarioHunter

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Ontariohunter can I ask who you went with in Arica Im looking to book a hunt in 24 doing research on 2 outfits now
Yes you cant bring the meat back you do eat it their and then most goes to local communities helping out a great deal depending on where it is they do not get a lot of meat and the donations are huge to them during the year
So dont rag on not bring the meat back unless you know all the details it can be a life saver to local folks over their its not wasted
Are you thinking South Africa?
 

Ohiowhitetail

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Thought I would share this horror story so others might learn from it. I hunted Africa in 2019 and harvested eight fine trophies. The outfitter turned them over to their "preferred" taxidermy company. I had all eight skulls euroed plus kudu pedestal cape tanned and wildebeest "backskin" tanned. I specifically ordered the kudu euro skull AND cape so I'd have something to put on the wall in case the cape was screwed up. Not an uncommon occurrence when dealing with overseas taxidermists. Long story short, after many problems, the crate with trophies finally arrived at the local freight dock the first day of pandemic lockdown February 2020. I actually intercepted the shipment after the customs broker in Toronto mistakenly misdirected it to another city five hours west of here. I get the crate home, remove the lid in my driveway, and the stench almost knocks me over. What the hell?! First skull I unwrap is the wildebeest. It's been PAINTED white. No doubt to cover the rotting flesh. All the skulls were painted and missing teeth (the buffalo missing ALL teeth). The kudu cape had a missing patch hair on the left shoulder. The wildebeest hide was clearly from a cow shot once while laying down. Probably a sick animal culled from a game farm. Well okay, this stinks (literally) but it's a lockdown in the middle of the winter so cleaning this mess will give me something to do. Last skull to be stripped and boiled is kudu. And what do I find? The taxidermist boiled the skull till one of the nose pieces fell off and disintegrated. So they just dug up another piece. Not even from a kudu (almost certainly waterbuck) and badly discolored, obviously from being left to soak in a pit of greasy decaying animal parts. That's too much! I sent an email to my PH and he raised hell.

During my second safari last August I was surprised to learn the outfitter was still dealing with same taxidermy company. I had a zoom conference with the manager and after making some weak excuses he finally conceded the "mistakes" and agreed to make good. They would process the capes for sable and second kudu free of charge. Eight skulls would not be painted. At Christmas I get an email from taxidermy outfit saying they finished the work and sent it off to freight company. Wait, no photos for final approval? And what the hell are they doing sending the stuff to the same freight company that made a dog's breakfast shipping my first trophies? They knew about those problems. Nothing happens. Then last week I get an email from the taxidermy company: why haven't you paid the freight company's account? Maybe because I never got an account from them: "Why are you guys still doing business with this crappy shipping outfit?" The freight company emails: sorry we misspelled your email address (like it didn't get kicked back as undeliverable?). Wire them $2074.00 US now if I want the stuff shipped. That was their "account." A one-liner. No itemization. Not an account - a demand. Jeezus, that's a lot of money to ship one box half way around the world bulk freight when it didn't cost me nearly that much to fly there and back as a passenger. Last time freight was around $900. I contacted the lodge owner and he relayed my concerns to the manager of the taxidermy company. The freight company told the manager that the increase was due to airlines increasing rates x2.5. Nothing can be done. I send the money and ask for details. No response. I contacted my customs broker and asked if she had heard when the stuff would be shipped. Nope. Nothing. Then I finally get an email from the freight company cc'ed to taxidermy and customs broker. Another one-liner: "documentation" has been completed and shipment will go out next week. Again, that's all it said. No details. No documentation attached. Noninformation information. Curiously, within fifteen minutes I received an email from my customs broker with all shipping docs attached, including a customer invoice! Why didn't the freight company send the documents to me? Because the freight company didn't want me to see the documents. Turkish Airlines was charging $845US to ship the crate from South Africa to Toronto. The customer invoice on page two had several expenditure items listed (depot handling, terminal fees, etc.), all left blank. The only thing itemized with a currency amount was Turkish Airline freight charge. At the bottom the grand total was "AS AGREED". The freight company didn't even have the balls to specify what was supposedly "agreed."

What can the readers glean from this? Always specify to overseas taxidermist that projects WILL NOT leave their premises without your approval. That approval requires 1) photos to substantiate client satisfaction [something they "forgot" this time] 2) a firm itemized quote from a freight company if the taxidermist is not shipping the items directly. Common sense would seem to dictate taxidermists cannot transfer client property to someone else without the client's approval. Of course, it's pretty clear to me this taxidermist is in on the scam. Once the trophies are in my possession the hammer is going to fall on that outfit. Justice can be obtained much more efficiently on the internet than through the courts.
That makes me sick!!
 

OntarioHunter

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That makes me sick!!
Well, it gets sicker! The customs broker screwed up and didn't let customs know the stuff arrived (even though I kept hounding her to find the stuff). I got hooked $550 for warehouse storage fees. Grrr.

I get the crate home, open it up and to my horror all the trophies were just thrown loose in it, including a huge buffalo skull. Only the warthog skull was wrapped in bubble wrap. The rest had noses only wrapped. At least this time I can see the skulls aren't painted. First out is hartbeest. It looks very good. All teeth are there, cleaned, and bleached nicely. Next out is black wildebeest. Oh SHIT! The horns have been boiled to the point of disintegration. This was a beautiful bull with bosses so big they almost grew together. Ruined! I immediately sent an email to lodge with photos and the owner contacted taxidermist. Their response was that's what all wildebeest look like. Not from what I can see on the internet! Impala was next out. What a mess. Apparently it was also boiled till it fell apart with nose pieces and bridge put back together with big gobs of epoxy glue. Two front teeth were replaced facing the wrong direction. I whittled the glue away and discovered these were not this animal's teeth. Same with the nose pieces. After several hours removing stubborn glue and carving bone with Dremel tool I was able to put the skull back together in a reasonably natural appearance. I still have to repair a bad gouge at the end of one horn, apparently damaged during transit.

Next out of the box is my sable skull. It looks okay: all it's own teeth and clean. Then I dig out the horns bundled separately. WTF? Some idiot drilled holes through the tips to hang numbered ID tags with heavy wire. For crying out loud! Then I put the horns on the skull. Oh no! The left one is clearly from my animal but the right one clearly is NOT. Too long, wrong shape, and wrong angle. Gawdamit!

The cape buffalo had all its teeth (last one had no teeth) but poorly bleached with a couple of large grease spots. We can fix it ... but should we have to?

The warthog had tusks top and bottom sloppily glued into skull/jaw. It took a while to clean off the excess. A few latent grease spots but not surprising with those buggers. We'll clean it up.

The waterbuck was badly grease stained. It's horns also had holes drilled in the tips. Base of horns had several inches of smelly gunk (new growth?) that wasn't cleaned off. The stuff was overcooked and falling apart. Took the better part of a day to remove the crap and stain the horn bases to match the rest. When I put the skull on the wall I noticed several front teeth were out of alignment. When I cleaned off the gobs of glue I discovered these weren't even my waterbuck's teeth. They didn't fit the root holes so the idiot simply broke off the roots and suspended the teeth willy nilly in a bunch of glue. I cleaned off all glue, removed the front two teeth on both sides, and left it at that. Still one tooth on left side that's wrong but it's the best I can do to make the skull look at all presentable.

Kudu was last to go up ... and the worst mess. Not my kudu's skull because my detached horns (complete with holes drilled in tips) don't fit it. Well, okay maybe I can fix that with some whittling on the stumps. But why bother? The teeth were a TOTAL mess! Only the very back molar on each side belonged to this skull (maybe). The rest were from some other specie(s?) and simply floated above the skull, roots and all, in mounds of epoxy glue. Disgusting! There's no way we can fix this short of pulling all the teeth. Yeah, that will look real cool. 🤨

A letter has gone out to the taxidermy company offering to settle this reasonably. They can buy me another wildebeest hunt. That is non negotiable. I may be able to "adjust" the stumps on sable to make the horns almost match up but I think at least a refund is in order for that one. They can send me kudu and waterbuck skulls with complete set of their own teeth and I'll make these horns fit. Alternative is they can buy me hunts for those three animals (which is probably the fairest resolution). We'll see how they respond. Other option is to bomb them by name on the internet. 20220306_234926.jpg kudu skull 20220306_173957.jpg waterbuck teeth 20220228_213812.jpg waterbuck horn 20220226_112547.jpg black wildebeest boiled 20220309_140732.jpg black wildebeest horns(1).JPG wildebeest on the ground
 

Kiwi

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Wow, what a terrible experience!

I've shipped taxidermy from USA to New Zealand and haven't had any major problems. But like you the cost has increased significantly and I have a mule deer mount in WY that will cost about $US2000 last time I checked.
 

OntarioHunter

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Wow, what a terrible experience!

I've shipped taxidermy from USA to New Zealand and haven't had any major problems. But like you the cost has increased significantly and I have a mule deer mount in WY that will cost about $US2000 last time I checked.
Make sure they send you pictures as the work progresses.
 
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