My Life as a Taxidermist

As a child I was always interested in the anatomy of animals. My Dad would field dress the animals he had harvested and I would always want to examine them. It was always interesting to me to see what they were eating. I still to this day like to look in the stomachs of the animals I shoot and the fish I catch. You actually can learn a lot about game by what’s in their bellies. So as an adult when I got a job at a local taxidermy shop my friends and family were not surprised. Being an outdoorswoman and an artist it was right up my alley.
If someone wanted an animal mounted it was usually because it was a trophy. They were not always a trophy in the sense of a monster rack or some rare exotic animal, but more in the sense of a special hunt. Each animal has a story to tell regardless of its’ size or reputation. I saw lots of firsts. These were my favorites. For instance a duck that was brought in once that was actually a first retrieved duck for one hunter’s dog. I remember a man who brought in his son’s first deer. I loved it when parents dropped off their kids first harvested animals. There was no better story than that of a proud parent talking about the first time their son or daughter went hunting and harvested something. It’s like you help keep the story alive by forever immortalizing the trophy with the art of taxidermy.
Every customer that came in was excited about what they were bringing us to have mounted. I could appreciate and enjoy a fellow hunter’s enthusiasm! I was able to mount my Roxie Roo’s first duck she retrieved for me. It was not a duck anyone else would have wanted mounted. He was nothing rare or special to most hunters, just a red head drake with not so great plumage. He had lots of pin feathers and not so great color. For me it was a duck that I will never forget and a memory that now will always have an image to go with it. I mounted him, in what is known as a “hanging dead mount” and I put it on the wall next to a photo of her. It remains one of my favorite to this day.
Taxidermy was a fun, but nasty job at times. You can’t do this kind of job with a weak stomach. However, once you got past the stinky stuff it was quite enjoyable. I really enjoyed making wild life habitats for the mounts to go on. My favorite thing to do was the finish airbrushing of the duck bills and feet. Handling and being around so many duck species allowed me to compare and study them up close. Taxidermy helped me to become very familiar with ducks that has helped me in hunting them. I learned tons of interesting things the few years I worked at the Taxidermy Shop.
These days I just do it as a hobby. The only taxidermy I do for work is billfish mounts that I paint custom scenes for fisherman who commission them. Mounted animals also make great home décor pieces. They are good for a focal point in a room over a fire place or in a study or office area. Using antlers hides and European mounts in home décor has become a trendy thing for many people that don’t even hunt. I have seen several magazines where designers use elements of the outdoors and animals as extras and focal pieces. Get your trophy mounted so it will not only be a stylish addition to your home, but also a great conversational piece and an everlasting memory to share with the world.

Nov 20, 2012 | Category: Blog | Comments: 2


2 comments on “My Life as a Taxidermist

  1. Steve Rchardson

    Awesome website Nena!

  2. Nena Hale

    Thanks Steve! Glad you like it!

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