The Art of Taxidermy
I’ve been busy doing a lot of taxidermy lately, trying to get caught up after a busy hunting and photography season. One aspect of taxidermy that I really enjoy is the meditation. Anyone who’s done taxidermy knows that it can be very time consuming and sometimes a little tedious. This is good because it gives the taxidermist plenty of time to reflect on things such as the animal’s life, which is the taxidermist’s job of reconstructing.
But dissecting and reconstructing a dead animal isn’t for everyone. I believe it takes a certain type of personality to pry the eyeballs and brains out of a skull. Taxidermists can be strange folks…
The following is a passage taken from my taxidermy website, natestaxidermy.net, that that might help you understand the art and purpose of taxidermy:
Taxidermy often gets a bad rap. The dead heads hanging on people’s walls often evoke negative feelings in non-hunters. They don’t see a glorious and noble beast, but a poor, innocent creature sacrificed purely for sport or to boost the ego of a heartless hunter. I have a hard time understanding this point of view because to me, that noble beast peering out from the wall is a tribute to the animal’s life, not its death.
All year long I admire and photograph both elk and deer in nature. I don’t particularly even like to kill them. But for a brief period in early fall our roles change from admirer and admired, to predator and prey. It’s a natural shift which always shifts back following the hunt. I know that hunting (by any predator) is a good and necessary thing which sustains balance in nature. I think the deer understands this too because all year long, whether I’m stalking with a bow or a camera, I’m treated like a predator, and the animal acts like prey. They don’t know anything else. This is why the biggest and smartest of them are so hard to hunt, and also why they deserve such admiration.
When I mount one of my own animals, I feel I’ve preserved not only the memory of a great hunt but the memory of a beautiful and admirable creature. I love wildlife as much as I love to hunt, and through painstaking care I can immortalize that special animal. If it weren’t for taxidermy, millions of beautiful beasts would still be harvested each year, but then discarded and forgotten. A quality taxidermist gives the animal a new home and continued life.
I won’t lie; I’m fairly new to the taxidermy arts. However, I’ve been doing European skull mounts for friends, family, and myself for more than a decade. My interest in taxidermy began in 2002 when I harvested a very large 4×4 buck and didn’t have enough money for a full mount. Through much research and trial and error, I was finally able to perfect a beautiful European skull mount on a custom-designed wood plaque.
Years later, after mastering the European mount, I developed a keen interest in furthering my taxidermy skills. So in April, 2013, I went to taxidermy school and have been learning and expanding on my education ever since.