• SD State Taxidermy Competition To Be Held In Watertown

    Taxidermy Watertown SD

    The South Dakota Taxidermist Association (SDTA) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2002.  The organization is dedicated to the enhancing and promotion of better taxidermy while uniting taxidermists in fellowship, learning and staying abreast of latest innovations, techniques and laws governing our industry.  Our proceeds go towards maintaining our annual convention/competition.   Our first convention/competition was held in Aberdeen, SD and since then we have had them in Huron and now this will be our second year in Sioux Falls.
    Each year we have taxidermists entered from up to 6 states, adding up to more than 100 entries.  Each taxidermist can bring as many entries as they’d like, they are then split into different levels of competition, and categories (see below).
    Levels of Competitions

    • AMATEUR:  (18 years old and under) – This division is for the young novice taxidermist and hobbyist.
    • NOVICE:  General idea of anatomy and coloration of species.  Multiple ribbons awarded.
    • PROFESSIONAL:  Mounts should be mechanically sound, technically correct and exhibit the craftsmanship of a professional taxidermist.  This division is for the taxidermist engaged in the taxidermy industry for profit.  Multiple ribbons awarded.
    • MASTERS:  Mounts must be original and technically correct, as well as artistically oriented and creative.  This division is for the taxidermist who has won 1 “Best of Category” award at any time in the South Dakota Convention in a particular category or anyone who chooses to compete at the highest level. 


    • UPLAND BIRD:  any upland bird; permits must accompany protected species.
    • WATERFOWL:  any waterfowl; permits must accompany protected species.
    • FISH:  any fish with actual skin; cast head and artificial fins allowed.  Masters Division fish are scored on a 360° position, Professional Division fish can be wall mounts or 360° position.
    • DEERHEADS:  whitetail deer only.
    • GAMEHEADS:  all game heads including mule deer; excluding whitetail deer; including half-life sizes; no rugs.
    • LARGE LIFESIZE MAMMALS:  any mammal larger than a coyote size.
    • SMALL LIFESIZE MAMMALS:  any mammal coyote size and smaller.
    • REPTILES:  any reptile.
    • REPRODUCTION:  any medium other than skin mounted taxidermy; commercial and self-made reproductions will be accepted.
    • ORIGINAL ART: including acrylic, fiberglass, bronze and woodcarving, this category will be judged on people’s choice. – NEW 2012

    Each entry is then carefully critiqued by World Champion and North American National Champion judges that are brought in by the SDTA.  The judging is a great learning experience.  They talk to each taxidermist one-on-one about their entry(s) and explain to them what needs to be done differently to improve.  Knowing the total anatomy of your species is a huge part of doing good taxidermy work.  Critiquing from a judge is the best way for you to learn and better your quality of work.   The SDTA Point System is as follows:  FIRST PLACE90-100; SECOND PLACE:  80-89; THIRD PLACE70-79; HONORABLE MENTION:  65-69.  Then the highest first place score wins Best of Category in that division/category.  There are also several additional awards presented at the awards banquet that is open for any one to win.  Last year there were 36 additional awards sponsored by different companies/organizations.  We are always looking for new award sponsors so if you are ever interested please feel free to contact a board member.
    Many many hours go into a competition piece, it is unbelievable how much time and effort is put not only into the animal but into the habitat as well.  It is really an amazing piece of art!   South Dakota has had several National and World Class Champion Taxidermists over the years due to the part of their continuing education.  If you are a beginner, hobbyist, part-time or full time taxidermist, you will be amazed at how much you can learn from other members, judges and seminars from the state convention/competition.  As a taxidermist you owe it to yourself, your business and your clients to become a member of this great educational organization.  And as a customer, you owe your prize trophy to be mounted by a taxidermist that is up to date with the latest and greatest materials and techniques, who have worked hands on with world-class or national winning taxidermists.  The quality of the taxidermy work really improves a persons business.  Customers should always look at the taxidermist’s current work before leaving off their animal.  If possible talk to other local people and get a feel for the taxidermist and see how reputable they are.  Ask them if they do taxidermy part time or full time, this will give you a feel to see how long it will take to get your mount back.  Most people do not want to wait a couple of years to get there mount, by that time you will forget what you took and what it looked like.  Pricing isn’t always an issue, taxidermists have to price accordingly, if there are several taxidermist in a certain radius they have to stay somewhat competitive.  Ask to see pictures, look over their website, and talk to current customers make sure and see what type of taxidermy they specialize in.  Look for advertising, a good fulltime, licensed, taxidermist will be advertising and promoting him or her self and business.  Awards in the shop are a good sign that they are continuing their education and enhancing the quality of their taxidermy work.
    This years (12th annual) convention/competition is March 21-23, 2014 at the Watertown Event Center in Watertown, SD.  The competition room will be open to the public for viewing on Saturday, March 22 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  This is a great way to compare taxidermists work side-by-side.  You will have a chance to vote for your favorite entry, People’s Choice Award will be given out Saturday night at our awards banquet.  Some day you will get your “trophy of a lifetime” so why not come out and find your favorite taxidermist to do the job!  For more information on the SDTA please visit our website at southdakotataxidermistassoc.com