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How Much Should a Deer Mount Cost?

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How Much Should a Deer Mount Cost?

Posted 2024-01-18  by  Josh Honeycutt

Taxidermy prices have increased sharply in recent years. But are current prices fair or backwoods robbery?

Image: ImageBy_Josh_Honeycutt-Taxidermy_2

In 2018, the author paid $400 for this deer mount. Image by Honeycutt Creative

Deer hunters have been taking dead critters to taxidermists for a long time. Some might look at those preserved harvests as a relatively new invention, but they aren’t. Taxidermy hasn’t been around for decades or even hundreds of years. It’s been around for millennia. The first known taxidermy is from 2,200 BC. According to some sources, the Egyptians preserved the cats, dogs, and other pets of pharaohs. The taxidermy of harvested game started later — likely in the 1500s in Europe.

I don’t know how much it cost to have a pharaoh’s mutt mummified, but I know how much it costs to have a buck put on the wall today — a lot. A quick look around the country reveals just how costly this luxury has become.

Still, questions remain. How much does a deer mount cost today? And how much should it be?

Current Pricing

If you ask several deer taxidermists near you for quotes, you’ll likely get a wide range of answers. Around me, it ranges from $450 to $900. That left me wondering what a deer mount should really cost.

Fortunately, Ashley Eve, a taxidermist in Oklahoma, polled taxidermists across the continent, including Canada. She asked what each taxidermist charged their customers. From 632 responses, she determined the average cost of a deer mount in America is $721.35. Interestingly, 5.54% of American taxidermists charge at least $1,000 for a deer mount.

If you move outside the continental United States, taxidermy gets more expensive, though. The average cost is $900 in Hawaii and $954 in Alaska. Canada’s average price is $769.25 (in U.S. dollars).

Average prices by region:

  • Northeast: $742.45

  • Southeast: $624.20

  • Midwest: $745.58

  • Northwest: $811.80

  • Southwest: $795.63

Image: ImageBy_Ashley_Eve_taxidermy_3

Taxidermy prices vary greatly throughout the country. Infographic courtesy of Ashley Eve

Behind the Pricing

Sam Coffey, with Custom Wildlife Mounts, is an award-winning taxidermist. He does this for a living, not a hobby, and understands the numbers must add up to keep the doors open.

According to Coffey, the national inflation rate is 30% more than in 2013. “Prices have risen sharply because of a 35 to 40% increase in supplies since 2018,” he said. “These expenses and rising costs are a direct reflection of the recent price increases. The national inflation rate for cost of living is up 23% since 2018.”

Because of the increase, Coffey said, shops should be 25 to 35% higher today compared to 2018. And just because the prices of some taxidermists are significantly higher than a few years ago doesn’t mean those folks are raking in cash. Even with recent spikes in prices, taxidermists are maintaining less profit than they did decades ago.

“Unfortunately, the profitability of taxidermy hasn’t really changed, because the increases in prices are mostly based on inflation and material rates,” Coffey said. “The true net profitability has stayed the same, because it costs more to live now than years ago.”

So, taxidermists are just trying to keep up with inflation and make a living, the same as all of us.

Are Deer Mounts Worth It?

Those who shoot a first deer or a big buck often face a big decision. Is a deer mount worth it? The answer will be different for each person and their situation.

“The cost of deer mounts depends entirely on the rise of inflation and material cost,” Coffey said. “To me, it’s kind of like a cheeseburger. If you would have told your grandfather in 1955 that a cheeseburger from McDonald’s would be $6 in 2023, he would’ve laughed, because they were a nickel at the time.”

So, for many hunters, deer mounts are worth it. Hopefully in another 70 years, someone else will be asking the same questions, and perhaps talking about a time when a deer mount averaged a meager $721.35, and what a laughable figure that was.


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