If you ask most artists what their favorite project is, it is usually the last one they completed. However, when I look back at over 40 years of doing taxidermy, several projects stand out, but one was a turning point and still remains a favorite — both for the subject matter (Mule Deer) and for the innovative concept that became the vision for Animal Artistry.
Animals in Motion
I was still working in my garage, and one of my favorite species to hunt was Nevada Mule Deer. I wanted to depict them in motion, so I created two bucks bounding over a dead fall in the high desert. The first buck is landing on one front leg, hind legs trailing. The second buck is at the peak of his arc and suspended off the hip of the buck that has just landed: it gives the appearance that he is completely airborne.
Meeting the Right People
I remember having the concept, but I was unsure how to execute it. Luckily, I had the good fortune of meeting a young welder who knew the kind of materials that would support such a project and agreed to work with me. Getting the first buck landing on his front leg was not difficult, but we still had to bring support through the body of that deer to the hip where we could put in a square stock and suspend the second deer. I remember when we had gone through the process and finally set the second deer on the square stock and everything held — he was airborne.
A Winning Taxidermy Mount
That mount won People’s Choice at Safari Club, was taken to the Governor’s Inaugural Dinner, and entitled “Silver State Flyers.” We have redone it a couple times since with much better taxidermy, but the first time was so meaningful: it really was the beginning of the Animal Artistry concept of animals in motion.