As a youngster hunting around his home town of Boone, Iowa, it was evident that Dennis Behn had a fascination with small game and deer. He enrolled in a mail order taxidermy course at age 10, and at the age of 14 he mounted his first whitetail deer. “I can’t attest to the quality of that first mount,” Dennis says, “but I do remember that the form I bought didn’t seem to fit very well. So I started modifying the form by cutting it up, reshaping, and then gluing the pieces back together. And it worked! The skin definitely did fit better.”
This quest for the perfect fit has never left Dennis. Hired in 1971 by Jonas Brothers of Denver, his skills were quickly noted. Within a year and a half he was named foreman and chief sculptor of the taxidermy studio where he remained for eight years.
In 1984, Dennis joined the staff at McKenzie Supply to specialize in sculpting shoulder mounts. Since then Dennis has created extensive and innovative lines of African, mule deer, elk, sheep, caribou, pronghorn antelope, and whitetail deer mannikins. The forms he sculpts have been thoroughly researched and tested. Dennis’ research is ongoing, so he can provide taxidermists with the best fit possible.
He has been at the forefront of innovation in gamehead mannikins. Dennis is responsible for many “firsts” in the industry, including the first 90 degree elk form (to provide antler clearance) back in the early 70’s, the first molded-in bugling elk mouth, the creation of the first “wall-pedestal” forms for which he coined the name, and the invention of the “pre-rotated” glass eye. In 2014, Dennis celebrated his 30th year with McKenzie.
Dennis’ taxidermy and sculpting skills have been fine-tuned and developed for 55 years, making him one of the most experienced craftsman in the industry. Dennis pursues his sculpting in the fashion of a true perfectionist. He has won numerous awards at the National and World competitions, including the first Coloman Jonas award. In addition, he continues to give seminars each year throughout the country.
He is also an avid bowhunter and photographer and continues to make numerous study trips each year.