As a full time taxidermist that has been in business since 1985, I will try to clear up some things that have come up in this thread.
I personally want every mount that comes through the shop to be finished and paid for as quickly as possible. That being said, I prefer to do all the big game in one block, birds in another block, etc., as they are different processes, and if I ping-ponged back and forth, I would never get anything done.
When bears and deer start coming in , they are skinned, eyes,ears, noses turned, fleshed and salted. Then commercially tanned. This usually takes a few months to get back from the tannery. Then the mounting process starts with the first one dropped off, continuing until the last one dropped off. I try to do them in this order with a few exceptions, like if someone needs it back due to illness, special occasion, etc.
What some people don't realize, is that there are quite a few steps in the process per mount. We don't just pop a head outta the freezer and mount it up monday, and it's ready tuesday. Here's how it goes in my shop:
1. Customer drop off, write reciept, choose pose.
2. Skin animal, turn ears, lips, eyes, nostrils, flesh and salt.
3. Deliver hides to tannery.
4. Pickup hides from tannery.
5. Match up capes with antlers. Arrange order of mounting, first in, first out.
6. Order appropriate forms,eyes, etc., for weeks worth of heads.
7. Match forms to customers animal as they arrive.
8. Actual mounting process.
9. Drying time.
10. finish work: pull pins, fix blemishes, etc.
11. airbrush eyes, nose, etc.
12. Groom mount.
13. Mail completion letter to customer.
Thats just for big game, and that's if everything goes smoothly, not taking into account that some guys cut the cape wrong/short, slit the throat, shoot it in the head,..the list goes on. Multiply this time frame for 100 deer heads per year, plus bears, small game, ducks, upland, turkeys, etc...as you can see, time is a rare commodity
While I am waiting for my tanning to be completed, I normally start working on birds:
1. Customer drop off, choose pose, properly tag waterfowl.
2. skin bird, de-fat, de-grease.
3.. Wash bird.
4. Tumble/dry bird skin.
5. Actual mounting process/carding.
6. Drying time.
7. Pull pins/carding.
8. Paint bills/feet.
9. Mail completion letter to customer.
Keep in mind that customer drop offs/pick ups take time out of the day also, as well as display base work,and getting supplies.
There isn't alot of down time in running a taxidermy studio. Besides deer and birds, You also have bears, turkeys, african, exotic, rugs, and fish. There is ALWAYS work being done on SOMETHING..
Keep in mind that if you have a week of deer heads planned, and 3 guys show up at the shop on Monday afternoon after a boar hunt with a bunch of hogs they want mounted, everything else just got bumped. Those animals need to be caped/prepped for the tannery before they spoil. Don't feel bad though, because when you dropped off your archery buck in October, somebody else got bumped so I could prep your critter.
I usually tell my customers that drop off a deer during rifle season that it will be ready over the summer.
Then of course there are the problem customers that you have to chase around for weeks/months/years to pickup and pay for thier mounts. The time I wasted on thier mount could have been better spent on yours.
Some guys get in over thier head by charging low prices and they get bombarded with work and cannot keep up. These guys usually don't stay in the business long.
Hope this clears up some of the time frame questions...