Universal Trophy Services is a company that was established to provide an efficient and professional trophy processing and export service to the International Hunting Market. Starting out as a small dip & pack facility whose focus was mainly on raw preparation of hunting trophies, we have expanded over the years to offer a broader and more diverse service to our clients offering quality shoulder and life size mounting options, European shield mounting, tanning of skins to fur or leather, as well as producing beautiful handmade leather products. UTS is a highly motivated and professional company who takes pride in offering an across-the-board service. There is no need for dealing with multiple parties, we arrange everything; from the moment the trophies arrive at our premises, through to shipping and transport to your preferred destination.
The business was founded in 2003 by brothers, Rupert and Karl Dedekind. They are both avid hunters and have been greatly involved in hunting from their early childhood days. Their father was also an enthusiastic hunter and their interest and love for hunting and things related, evolved from there. In 1994, Karl became a Professional Hunter and started his career working all over South Africa and other African countries. Rupert studied Business Marketing Management (IMM) and worked for an export company for several years before they founded the company together. Around 2002, Karl was looking at spending less time in the veld, but still wanted to be involved in the hunting industry. Rupert, when advised of the opportunity, was also looking at alternatives to the corporate world. This led to the brothers starting their own dip and pack business which has expanded over the years to become the internationally renowned Universal Trophy Services we know today. Growing up in an English, German and Afrikaans household has been beneficial in working with European clients, particularly those from Germany and Austria. Their love for the outdoors and particularly hunting, and their understanding and involvement in the industry, aided them in identifying to and relating to the needs and requirements of the international hunting market sector. Maintaining quality and providing an uncompromised service to their clientele, remains the focus and core fundamentals of this company.
“Our aim with Universal Trophy Services is to provide an uncompromising and professional service to our clients.
To deliver quality above all else. All trophies undergo a stringent quality control process and are treated to internationally specified standards.”
Universal Trophy Services is a registered import and export taxidermy facility. The facility has been validated and certified as an International Standard Facility by the National Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Environmental and Land Affairs in conjunction with the National Department of Veterinary Services. All trophies are processed according to EU and US requirements.
Skull on Shield Mounts (European Mounts)
Tanning of Skins
Our excellent production of lifelike quality mounts has brought many compliments from across the globe from excited clients who received their finished trophies. We will process your trophy according to your specifications and preferences of pedestal mounts, full mounts, half mounts, shoulder mounts, neck mounts, wall mounts or even custom-built mounts. The process is well worth the wait.
At Universal Trophy Services, we receive clients from across the globe and assist them every step of the way, from the moment we receive their trophies, helping to make the best decisions regarding mounting instructions and choosing curios, to assisting them to find the best broker to clear the trophies at customs, up until delivery to their destination of choice.
Collection of Trophies
Universal Trophy Services arranges for the collection of trophies, either within the company or through a courier service. Collection points have been established at Johannesburg International Airport, should this be of extra convenience for the Outfitting Company or Professional Hunter. Each trophy is thoroughly checked to ensure that it has received the correct field preparation, whether the trophies were collected or delivered to our premises.
Security and Insurance of Trophies
By default, insurance on consignments is arranged. Insurance amounts to roughly 1% of the insured value of the cargo. The insurance company generally only covers the consignment from airport to airport, for total loss or damage caused in transit.
All crates are custom built according to the consignment size and requirements. The crates are built out of 9mm plywood and timber. Trophies are thoroughly wrapped in plastic to ensure protection in transit and are all firmly secured within the crate to prevent all movement. All timber used is ISPM 15 regulation compliment and we are registered with DAFF in this regard.
Trophies: Arrival and Clearance
When the consignment reaches its destination, your preferred or nominated clearing agent will clear the trophies at customs and deliver it to your preferred address or to your taxidermist. If no clearing agent has been nominated, you can opt to clear the consignment yourself, should you wish to do so, however the customs and US Fish and wildlife / agriculture clearance procedures can be quite challenging and time consuming if you are not up to speed with the requirements and protocols. The following list shows some of the many clearing agents across the globe that we deal with on a regular basis (not limited to these countries and agencies):
Universal Trophy Services is located on the outskirts of Pretoria East in South Africa.
Universal Trophy Services will assist you with all transport requirements and arrangements to have your trophies brought to our premises from the Outfitters you hunted with, even if your hunt took place in another country.
The trophy should be transported to the skinning shed as soon as possible where the animal is skinned. After the cape, full skin etc. has been skinned out, it should be placed into fresh cold water or a strong saltwater solution where it is rinsed, and any dung or blood is washed off the skin. If the solution has a strong salt content, it can be left in the solution for 5 to 30 minutes. If only fresh water, it should be taken out within 10 minutes. After the skin has been rinsed, it should be hung up in the shade for 5 minutes to allow excess water to drip off the skin. The skin should then be well salted with new salt, taking special care that the salt is worked into the lips, ears, nose, and any folds which exist. The skin should be left in the salt for 4 to 5 days depending on the thickness of the skin.
Skulls must be cut clean of all excess meat; the eyes and the brains must be taken out whereupon the skulls can be pushed into salt and allowed to dry. Do not boil the skulls!
Universal Trophy Services will make all arrangements with your Outfitter to have the trophies imported into South Africa. We arrange everything, from collection, export and import permits to the delivery and clearance of your trophies by the State Veterinary Office.
The completion time on your trophies will depend on how the trophies are to be prepared.
Raw Preparation: 4 to 5 months
European Shield Mounting: 7 to 8 months
Tanning of skins: 7 to 8 months
Mounting: 10 to 12 months
Custom orders may take extra time depending on the work to be done.
Factors beyond the control of Universal Trophy Services could increase the length of time. The year-end period for example, often leads to delays as airline companies give priority to soft goods. Export permit complications could also cause delays. The delay caused by the lengthy COVID-19 lockdown period also had a significant impact on the process. In the event of such a situation occurring, the client will be duly informed. Please note that the month of December is not included in the processing time, as the facility closes over that period and all trophy processing comes to a halt.
The shipping costs will be determined once all trophies have been finalised and the crate has been custom built for the order as the freighting costs are calculated according to the volumetric weight and the destination of the crate. We will be able to give you an estimate quotation once we receive your order, but this will be subject to change and can only be accurately calculated once we have the size and weight of the completed order.
All costs need to be settled before the consignment leaves South Africa. All trophies are exported via airfreight unless otherwise requested. UTS also arranges the services of import & clearing agents, who can clear and deliver your consignment on your behalf; the cost incurred being for you to be settled directly with the clearing agent.
Shipments for multiple hunters are not accepted in one crate. Each hunter must have their own set of hunting documentation, export documentation and packed separately in their own crate to be presented for entry.
Raw preparation of trophies is the minimum required process to be able to export trophies legally across international borders. It is the process to clean and remove all flesh and tissue from the skulls and skins. The skulls are then bleached, and the skins dried.
Hides are soaked in a Formic acid solution for a minimum of 72 hours at a PH of 2,5 to 2,8. The skulls, horns and tusks are immersed in a boiling water & Soda Ash solution for a period of 4 hours. After boiling, the skulls are sprayed clean of all meat and are then immersed in a Hydrogen Peroxide solution – Volume 50%, for a period of around 4 hours. It is all then dried out and dusted with an insecticide poison.
Pre-tanning or dry tanning is the process whereby the skins are fully fleshed and tanned with Lutan FN tanning agent, upon which they are dried and tumbled on completion. This is requested when a client chooses to have his own taxidermist further process the skin for mounting, once rehydrated. Your taxidermist would only need to rehydrate the hides to commence mounting. We have a recommended wet back recipe for your taxidermist to use for the rehydration process.
Universal Trophy Services recommends the following Wet Back Recipes to the taxidermist to rehydrate the skins that has already been tanned with Lutan FN:
4 Ounces of Protal to every 5 gallons of water. Soak the hide in the water solution until soaked completely through. Remove and ring out as much of the water as possible. Place the hide in a garbage bag and close it properly. Allow for it to sweat overnight. The following morning, it should be ready for mounting.
Another option would be to make up a soaking bath with water, at a temperature of 40 degrees centigrade. Based on the dry weight of the hide, multiply the weight by 1000% to calculate the amount of water required, e.g., Capes weigh approximately 20kg x 1000% = 200 litres of water. In a separate container, thoroughly mix together 6% Tanning Fat Liquor (1.2kg in 7.2 litres of water at a temperature of 60 degrees centigrade). When properly mixed, pour this mixture into the water bath (200 litres at 40 degrees centigrade). Place the dry capes into the bath, stirring frequently and leaving it overnight or until thoroughly rehydrated. Once the capes have wet back, mounting can take place.
Outfitters are required to submit the signed pink copy of the hunting register, along with the landowner’s exemption certificate (if it was not forwarded to the relevant Provincial Nature Conservation office), as well as the permission letter from the landowner, original hunting permits for CITES and TOPS trophies and the taxidermy instructions pertaining to your trophies.
Your Outfitter will provide us with all the required hunting documentation to apply for the permits that is needed for the export. Along with the permits, a veterinary certificate or a taxidermy certificate may be issued. Your clearing agent will arrange for any import permits that may be applicable for your consignment before we export the trophies.
Universal Trophy Services will apply for all applicable export documentation for your trophy consignment. You provide us with your physical address, passport number and contact details; your Outfitter provides us with the hunting documentation, and we do the rest. Once all documentation is ready, we will send it on to your clearing agent to confirm that everything is ready for us to proceed.
The importing and exporting process can be rather difficult with the trade regulations constantly changing and documentation requirements evolving frequently. This makes customs clearing a complicated process. If not done correctly, trophies may be confiscated and destroyed or placed on hold for inspections etc. incurring more costs.
Your customs clearing agent will assist to ease the burden of copious amounts of paperwork involved in importing your trophy consignment.
They verify all export documentation before your consignment is shipped. They receive the consignment once it arrives at your preferred airport of destination and clear everything through customs. Once all is received and cleared, they will transport your crate to your address of choice.
We have clearing agents that we recommend in each country, based on previous experience and ease of use. These are specifically agencies that has knowledge in the clearing of hunting trophies with the best results.
No burden for you with export or import documentation; no hassles at customs with clearing of hunting trophies; no planning required for you to have a sizable and heavy crate transported to your home. They will assist with everything along the way.
In other words, a clearing agent is not a requirement, but who would not want to make use of them!
When your Outfitter delivers your hunting trophies, each part is tagged. However, we also place our own tags on the trophy with your name and surname, when we check it in. This tag is also labelled with the check-in sheet number. The tags are extremely durable and able to withstand all the processes without being damaged or detaching from the trophy. Throughout the entire process, these details are accompanying your trophy to ensure that you will receive your trophy when your consignment is exported.
Once we receive your trophies from your Outfitter, we will send you a confirmation email with a list of all parts received for you to verify that each part is accounted for. You may then confirm instructions on how you want each trophy to be processed. We will send you a quotation (excluding freighting costs, as this can only be determined once all trophies have been finished and we have the dimensions and weight of your custom-built crate). If you are ready to proceed, you may transfer the 50% deposit that is required, and work will commence on your consignment. While the trophies are being processed, we start applying for the applicable export documentation for your consignment. As soon as all export documentation is ready, we send it to your appointed clearing agent to verify that everything is in order. Once the trophies are finished, the crate is custom built for everything to fit securely. We will then obtain a flight quotation and send you the final invoice for payment. When your payment is received, the flight is booked, and we send you and your clearing agent the flight details and airway bills. The flight is tracked up to the point of destination. Your clearing agent will inform us once everything has been cleared and is ready to be delivered to you. We will be there to assist every step of the way.
By default, we insure the trophies at a premium of 1% of the insured value. It covers against loss to the value of the insured amount and to cover the costs to repair in case of damage to the trophies (from airport to airport). You may choose not to insure the cargo, but this is not recommended.
When we send you the quotation with your instruction preferences on your trophies, and there is mounting involved, we will ask you for your mounting directions. By this we mean that you may specify which direction each of your mounts should face, from the animal’s perspective, e.g., slight left, right, straight, at an angle, facing downward, etc. For full mounts, we will also ask you what the stance should be, e.g., lying down, running, jumping, standing on alert, in attack mode, etc., and if the mount should have a floor base or a wall base, depending on where you plan to place your trophy in its new home.
The process that is used to tan a skin can make all the difference to the final product you would like to have manufactured. Normal tanning will leave the skin with hair on. Leather tanning might seem straight forward, but there are options that you may choose from that will change the outcome of the final leather and it is most certainly beneficial to know your options.
First, you may choose if you want the skin to be chrome tanned or vegetable tanned. With chrome tanning, the skins are placed in chromium salts and tanning liquors, where with vegetable tanning, it is a more natural process that relies on tree tannins and water. When these leathers age, chrome leathers may fade slightly, but mostly keep their colours, where vegetable leathers caramelize to enhance its natural beauty. Chrome leather is soft and pliable, which can make it rather easy to manufacture any product. Vegetable tanned leathers are generally known as a hard, thick leather, but with our skilled tanners, they can manipulate the leather with an oily pull up finish and mill it to be as soft and pliable as chrome leathers and they can make the thickness to your preferences.
When you receive your quotation, and there is leather tanning involved, we will ask you for your leather tanning preferences. By this we mean that you may specify if you would like to have the skins chrome tanned or vegetable tanned. We will also send you our colour chart so that you may decide what colour your leathers should be. For a Buffalo, you may also choose if the natural print should be on the leather or if you prefer to have it smooth. We will also send you our manufacturing catalogue if you wish to have your leather further processed into products, e.g., gun bags, handbags, wallets, jewellery, etc.
Know your options to choose the best leather for you!