First, I'd like to share my thoughts on people critiquing other guys' mounts. Stealfeathers is obviously proud of the mount, since he posted a pic of it. I usually don't comment unless the poster asks for it except maybe a congratulations to the poster on his harvest. To me, it just makes the person who was satisfied become unsatisfied with his mount.
With that said, early season specimens are difficult because half the feathers usually wind up on the shop floor. I've got to where I recommend customers not mount less than fully plumed birds. I broke a guy's heart last season when he brought in his first redhead. He was PROUD and I was happy for him. After inspecting the bird, it was a young one that still had lots and I mean lots of brown feathers in the neck area and the tail feathers were still "notched". I advised him that I wouldn't spend $300 on that bird and showed him why. He went back and forth on it for a few minutes but ultimately sided with my "professional" opinion. Now, he is/was a repeat customer and I hope he will come back. But, I knew that if I mounted that bird for him and even if I did a great job on it, he would look at it in the coming years and be disappointed that he got such a poor quality specimen mounted.
As for the OP's mount, the taxidermist did a fairly clean mount. The part that is lacking is the anatomy. The wing shape and neck attitude are incorrect for the pose and like 90% of the bird mounts I see, the neck skin is not pulled forward as it should have been. If those two areas were correct and the feet were injected better, you guys would have loved that mount. The grooming of the feathers isn't bad at all and the paint looks good on the bill and feet. I see quite a few competition mounts at every show that I attend that don't even come close to that mount. The mallards have the same exact issues. If whoever mounted those birds will spend just a little time studying reference, he/she will be able to turn out top quality mounts. That is the exact reason I spent $2000 on my reference aviary and live birds and many more thousands of dollars attending shows and competitions. Now, people complain because I take too long and/or charge too much.
Again, not a bad mount...but realize there are just a handful of taxidermists in NC who consistently turn out bird work better than that.
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