Know the animal.
"'[Taxidermy] is a flip-flop of what a portrait artist does," says McBride. "A portrait artist takes a three-dimensional person, gets him to sit in a chair, and paints him on a canvas. A taxidermist takes a picture of an animal and re-creates him in three dimensions."
What this means for a potential buyer is that the first thing he should do is paw through images of the species he intends to purchase. Spend 10 minutes on Google Image Search, go to an animal sanctuary, or stalk your desired beast in the wild. Just having a mental picture of what an elk or a wild boar or a coyote actually looks like is going to ensure that you'll never walk home with a truly awful trophy.