I have made three hunts in South Africa and one in Zimbabwe. Before I made the first trip I was told by persons who had been there, "Don't have your taxidermy work done in Africa. Don't have any trophies shipped via ocean freight. Ship everything via air freight."
When I asked why I was told, "The taxidermy work is shoddy by USA standards. Extra crating and bulk shipping charges consume most of the savings on taxidermy costs. Trophies shipped via ocean freight are often water damaged upon arrival."
I visited several taxidermy studios in South Africa and was not impressed with heads hanging on the wall. Their work makes all animals look wooden and non-lifelike.
By profession, I am a customs broker and understand US Customs clearance procedures. (Our firm deals only with trophies from Canada and this is not a self-serving report.) Raw skins and horns, regardless of origin are free of duty into the United States. Charges for inspection by Fish & Wildlife are the same for raw or processed trophies. If a broker is required, brokerage fees are the same.
Most guides and outfitters in Africa want you to leave your trophies for full processing, wanting to keep more money in their country. They are looking after their own best interest.
My advice to overseas hunters is, request that all skins be salted heavily with table or sea salt. When dry and dipped, ship home in care of your taxidermist via airfreight. Crating and bulk charges are minimal compared to mounted trophies. US Customs/Fish & Wildlife charges will be the same. Your own taxidermist can be instructed to prepare the mounts to your specifications.
A hunter might save two or three hundred dollars by having inferior taxidermy work done in Africa but will loose most of it in shipping and crating charges.........(continued)