I have been practicing taxidermy since 2000, but my love for the art and for the outdoors in general, goes back as far as I can remember. My first memory of my childhood involving whitetail deer happened somewhere around the age of six or seven. A friend of my step-fathers, Dan Clevenger, had moved back to Indiana from Michigan, and was trying to introduce my step-father to whitetail deer hunting. At the time, I had never even seen a live deer, as I lived in the city, and they were still somewhat rare in our area of Indiana.I remember Dan drawing a deer print in the wet sand at Quakertown beach, to show me how to tell if a deer had been in the area. That summer, I spent a lot of days in our back yard looking around for any sign of a deer. Of course, I never found anything, but I did use the same stick method to draw a deer-print in our garden, and remember trying to convince my dad that I had seen a deer there. I was consumed with the thought of being a deer hunter many years before I was ever actually in the woods with a weapon. I spent countless hours during those Deer Seasons waiting on the front step for my Step-father and Dan to come home from hunting until I was finally “Big enough in the britches” to go along. My first season of actually being a whitetail deer hunter, in the woods with weapon, came at the age of thirteen. Although I never saw a deer that whole season, I did actually find a real deer print, and I was “Hooked”. I’ve never missed a season, since. I am still very much like a kid on Christmas Eve the night before firearms season opens. In twenty-five plus years of combined nights before opening day, I don’t believe I could put together a full nights sleep. When it comes to deer season, I’m wound “tighter than a ten-day clock”.
It took three deer seasons before I was finally lucky enough to take a deer. It was a small-racked ten pointer, but it was a world record, as far as I was concerned. My family never went without the necessities, but we certainly weren’t rich enough to mount a deer, and I knew better than to ask. A few years later, I did finally take a Buck that would be a trophy by most anyone’s standards. It scored 147 6/8, and at the time was considered exceptional for our area of Indiana. By that time, I had a part time job, and there was nothing that would have kept me from mounting that whitetail. I took it to the first taxidermist that I could find and was proud of it when I finally got to pick it up. Several years later, I took my first antlered deer with a bow, and decided to have it mounted. It was certainly no 147” buck, in fact, it might have measured 50 inches, at best. It didn’t matter, as hard as I had worked for this deer, it was going to be mounted. I had found a taxidermist that was a lot closer to home, so I took it to him instead of the gentlemen that mounted my large deer. When I picked this mount up from the taxidermist, I quickly realized that not all taxidermy was the same. I had found a new taxidermist, that was for sure. The level of detail in that tiny little bucks face was unbelievable. In the following years, I took several more deer to the same taxidermist. Most were not what most would consider trophies, but the magic that this taxidermist created with them made it worth it to me. Finally, My wife said “You’ve spent enough on Taxidermy, no more”. So, the next deer I took that was worth mounting, I made the decision that no matter what it took, I would learn Taxidermy, myself. I had no idea how challenging this would be. I started with a squirrel that ended up having no arms or legs, moved on to a fox that lost all it’s hair, and finally was able to complete a pheasant that although it didn’t look all that great, at least it had all its body parts. I still have the “Maimed Squirrel” in my shop as a reminder to never give up. With hard work and determination, nothing is impossible. Over the last several years, I have continued to hone my skills and increase my customer base. Please take a few moments to look through the gallery, and I think you’ll agree, I’ve certainly come along way. In addition to whitetail, I have mounted several of the most commonly hunted animals in North America, Including Caribou, Elk, Wild Boar, Raccoons, Coyote, Wild Turkey, and Squirrel. I also occasionally mount a Longhorn Steer for a local butcher shop owner.
I have been fortunate enough to teach my son Dustin to hunt. I was with him when he took his first deer. I have never been more excited than the first time I ever took him bow hunting and he took a nice 9-pinter about 20 minutes after sunrise.
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