If you've never been to the WTC as I had, let me be the first to tell you that you've no idea what you've missed. This show is without a doubt, the pinnacle of the industry and it lives up to its name. When you go into a competition area and there are over 720 mounts to look out, you tend to be a bit overwhelmed.
I had the distinct pleasure of working with 3 of the finest "young" professionals I've encounted over the years in the WTC Super Seminar. Marcus Zimmerman and his brother Kenny were assisted by Jason Snowberger in creating one of the most realistic bighorn sheep versus wolf displays that you could imagine. In the 15.5 hours over 5 seminar periods a right turn sheep and a straight posed wolf were turned into a left turned sheep with an attitude and a wolf whirling to avoid danger. When that work was done, a habitat stolen right out of the Kootenay's was transformed in front of the audience. Not a minute was ever wasted and not a single opportunity to ask a question and have it answered to the fullest was passed. Being part of it makes me worry that I might have actually missed something myself and as soon as the tape becomes available, I'm getting a copy for the references theys artisans shared with us.
Award winners? I know a few but only these. People's Choice went to Jason Snowberger for his mountain lion and kitten. He also won the best Large Mammal Division. Gene Smith won Whitetail while Don Stevens took Master of Masters in Whitetail. Frank Newmyer won the Carl Akeley Award for his bird/bronze combination. Monty Holberg won Large Gamehead with his elk and my buddy Ken Walker won the Recreation category with his lifesize Irish elk (something to behold). I THINK it was Tommy Hall's whitetail fawn with a snake that won the Best in Show, but I'm not sure of the artist or the piece.
One thing I've cautioned about seems to be becoming more evident. Whitetail deer are not the crowd pleasers and judge pleasers that they were years ago. More and more I'm chagrinned to see the "microtaxidermy" taking front row. Now this is PERSONAL OPINION, but I guess I'm old school and don't see how the realms of possibility allow for a hummingbird mount to be on the same playing field with a tundra swan. I know it takes more "delicate" work, but a .001 percent of error on a hummingbird scapular would be virtually invisible while on the swan could well cause the loss of points and an award. I solely blame the judges for this trend. If they didn't place all the awards on the phoebe's, then the attraction wouldn't be on phoebe's for the competitors.
The whitetail guys are going to spasm when I say this, but whitetail taxidermy is just about as far as it will ever get. You can only do so much to a whitetail without escaping the scope of realism and I think we're there. Sure, someone will still enter, and someone will obviously win, but I don't see them being the focal point in shows anymore.
Before anyone gets their shorts in a wad, I have a personal observation to make about you beginners who chose to enter at this level. You have my highest respect, but have you considered there might be a greater way of you winning a ribbon or an award at this show rather than jumping right in?
This show was a perfect example of the undeniable fact (though many will for ego's sake)that the ONLY thing separating the novice from the master of master is three small words: ATTENTION TO DETAIL.
As I've always said, any taxidermist who, if they take pride in their work, is NOT a member of both his state and national association is missing an invaluable opportunity.
Competitions are like life. The greater the award, the great the effort required. Entering a state show can prove to be the best learning experience of your life with the least amount of pain. From there, the Regionals offer increased scrutiny and bigger learning opportunities. The Nationals give you the sense that you can make it. Here, judging is quite critical, but by working that "ladder" you gain new respect for your work and you learn what the judges look for. When you finally get to the WTC, you can rightfully expect that this is going to be the harshest judging you're ever going to see and the competition level will be commensurate.
The WTC offers all skill levels the opportunity, but I couldn't help but wonder how many newer taxidermists would be heartbroken to find the very best piece they'd ever done coming away with nothing. Many of those pieces, just with the added scrutiny of those lower level shows would have easily stood a chance on getting SOMETHING from the WTC.
A poet named Rabutin once penned, "Absence is to love what wind is to fire. It extinguishes the small and kindles the big." I think taxidermy competitions share a similar path. If you think of yourself as being a quality taxidermist and enter your first piece into competition, it too will do one of two things. It will beat you totally and turn you away, or it will light a fire that can consume you to be the very best. I guess it's good that those less dedicated are weeded out, but I think the industry loses in that scenario. I just wish that some of the insufferable comments about "politics", "rigging", "telling me what to do", and "good old boys club" would be tossed out with yesterdays trash as they should be, and individuals accept that theres a learning curve for all of us. As we use that curve, it's easier to maneuver because we expect the arc to get tighter rather than being tossed behind the wheel right in the middle of the skid. Don Stevens didn't start out as a Master of Masters, and I'm sure, know him, he'll be the first to tell you that his first mounts were just as horrendous as anyone elses. JOIN YOUR STATE ASSOCIATION today. It's such a small and insignifican investment for what you hope to attain.
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I could not make worlds this time attended in "03, it was my state show (PA) or worlds so i went for states, i was overwhelmed when i went the first time hated to miss this one ,but i'll go to the next more vacation time
Amazing to see a close mind person such as yourself, gaze in amazment at the Real World of Taxidermy.
Sorry you had to awaken to the finer ART. Now do you not also agree many many mounts do breech the craftsman to artist ideal.
Yes the everyday taxidermist is not much more that a craftsman, but as you know see some mounts are totally amazing.
You have a point of size of animals.
Mentality's the same, only the names have been changed to protect the ignorant I guess. The only thing amazing here is for someone who ACTS as if he knows something, you still haven't figured out what name appeared on your birth certificate. (I'm assuming you were born and not hatched though I'm beginning to wonder.)
George , very well put. At one point the state ,regionals and the NTA shows were "The Testing Field" for the Worlds show. That don't seem to be the case any longer. Many times the judge you had at these shows would be the judge at the Worlds. You could have corrected many things on your piece before it got to the World show and done better with it at the Worlds. That was the "basic" road to the World competition. Taxidermy doesn't seem to have time for or has evolved beyond "the basics" and the talent of probelem solveing.
George that was well said. As a beginner,My shorts are not in a wad yet! If the beginners would only listen to the wise. Some of us beginners apreciate folks like yourself sharing your knowledge with us and making our learning experince in taxidermy much more exciting. Instead of listening to idiots on here that no nothing bout anything. Thank you for posting,
Wondering if you knew how Fred Vanderburgh made out,Thanks
I spoke to Fred and saw his beautiful mount, but I don't know about the awards.
Very Good. Do you know of any of the fish and repro winners. How did Gary Brunch do or Jeff Morning? Thanks Randy D.
And I'm not a fish guy as you know, but for the life of me, I don't see any sucker beating out a beautiful brookie either. There was a great bass, smallmouth, and a superb HUGE Northern about to eat a wood duck hen or her duckling or both, but again, I don't kow who won there. I have to leave early and missed the awards banquet.
Thanks George Glad you enjoyed yourself.
I ran into Ken Bauman coming out of the CARVING Championship and he remarked that fish taxidermist could learn a whole lot from the carvers. You would not believe the beauty these guys depicted in wood. A lion fish looked so realistic that you felt you could have been stung by it. A breeding pair of bluegills was cleaning a bed of sand and a school of trout were swimming upstream on a sculpted log. The paint schedules were incredible. Maybe they don't need to worry about covering seams or smell, but to see the delicate carvings of fins and scales was pretty awe inspiring.
I was sooo looking forward to attending the World Show had my days planned on what seminars to attend and also had some people I would have loved to talked with. Room booked show pass bought and what happens get sicker than I have ever been in the last 10 years and cant even make the drive and Im sure if I mustered up the drive I still woulda have been stuck in bed 90% of the time.
Well maybe Nationals will work out for me and will have to wait for the next World show.
I agree with George,this show is indeed the pinnacle of the industry. It was awesome! The last world and state show I attended was in 1985. I was discouraged by the inconsistency of the judges and the "good old boy's club", George referred to. After this long drought I finally attended our state show last year and spent the money to travel to Springfield this year. Good decision! The seminars were top notch. The instructors were great and they were always willing to answer questions or share ideas no matter where you saw them during the show. There were many suppliers with good selections, new products or forms and discount prices. The facility and the good people who put this show together know how to do it right. The quality of the mounts, especially the artistic merit, that were entered in the competition were outstanding! My only regret is that I had not been involved in the state and national organizations since 1985. That has changed. I wonder what the quality of my work would be today, if I had continued to stay involved.
george , what category was the "miniature" taxidermy place at ?
're-creation 'or small mammal and did it won anything?
(im talking about miniature horses and miniature deer)
what do peole say /think about this?
For the great words. For a beginer like me I hope to see or enter in the world show some day. Right now I can't wait until my states show. Going to just learn and hope to enter someday. I plan on starting at the bottom and working my way to the top the old fashion way. It's nice to hear a "good old boy" say thats the way to do it. LOL I'm sure I will have the excitment at my state show that you did at the world show.
I emailed you some pictures of your work from up there. They were talked about and gasped at quite a bit. You caught everyone's attention. Great Job. I also got the pleasure of meeting Mr. Roof, Yox, Eppley, and quite a few more to say the least. Dan Hudzik
This being my first world show, I was in awe of SOME of the work and all the seminars I attended. I am yet to compete on any level because I am my own worst critic and felt my work wasn't at a level to compete up there--wrong! I saw some ribbons on mounts in the professional class that were no better than some of my best commercial work. I tried to use an unbiased eye when I first looked at the pro entries and just get an overview of the quality of work, creativity in habitat and poses, and general appeal. Once the ribbons were in place, I went back and really examined the ribbon winners and tried to pick out things that made a first place different from a 2nd or 3rd. Some times the differences were very apparent and some times they alluded me. I did use the time I spent in the competition area to pick out areas where I need to improve to compete on that level. It was well worth my $$ and time to learn from some of the best in our business. I just wish I could have been in 2-3 places at one time. The notes I took and the conversations I had with many of the vendor reps will most certainly help me for some time to come. The work in the Master division gives me a goal to shoot for in the future. I was most impressed with the way everyone was more than willing to share their knowledge with those who hope to compete with them some day. You won't find that in very many fields.
You are, in my eyes right on. The WTC was the first competition that I have ever been to and WOW! Ken's mount was something that I could still be peering at right along with Gary's fish and Jason's Mountain lion. The super seminar was just amazing to say the least and a vast wealth of info, that only allowed me to take in 6 or 7 of the others. some of which I hate to say seemed to be thrown together at the last minute, but still managed to have those all important, useful tips. To me the three that were the most helpful, that I attended, were Gary Bruch's Molding fish parts, the one on mule deer (sorry can't recall name and I don't have my notes in front of me, and Cally Morris's flying turkey. Make that Four saw Jason 's on carcass casting today and he was the most entertaining of the 6 - 7 for sure, as well as very knowledgeable I also meet the VP of my State association in the trade show and was able to join the state and National. I will very much look forward to attending more in the future. In my opinion it was well worth it for the learning aspects along.
I am always amazed at each world show on how the skill and art of taxidermy rises to another level.The ideas and artistist design gets better and better every show. The seminars were awesome again as in past years and I feel sorry for anybody who could not attend for whatever reason.I am already looking forward to 2007 in Reno. I also enjoyed meeting you George, even if it was only for a few minutes. I will see you in July at the NTA.
dan ,i must thank you for the latest update and very nice pictures. !
but i kept on wandering what sort of 'best category ' it had been placed. well for one , these has fur and mine you, natural fur ones reflecting a kind of classical taxidermy -now why besdides 'carving' entries in your picture.?
I knew the flaws--but you have to get your feet wet sometime.
I thought all levels of mounts were represented. Some may have an elistist idea about the WTC, but I think entries in the WTC should represent all capabilities. It is only held every 2 years and like the ads say "If you can only attend one [conference]...".
As I said above, the WTC WILL accommodate all levels, and it doesn't have a damned thing to do with "elitism". (You can put that remark in the day old trash with those others I listed above.) The point of all my comments were lost in your ego I fear. SURE, they had all levels of quality there as any show does. BUT, if you "knew the flaws", why would you pay that kind of money and not have them corrected before you went? MOST of us desire "grooming" and "appreciation". If those are desirable to a beginner, then they would be better served at a lower level of competition. I've seen veteran taxidermists enter pieces in the novice devision just so he could get a ribbon and claim on their price list "Award Winning Taxidermist". I've seen masters caliber taxidermists who refused to go outside the professional division because of abject fear of NOT getting a ribbon. We can sit here and claim that competition is all about learning, but none of you believe that, do you? If you don't get some sort of ribbon or award, your ego is bruised.
I'm delighted that you went and delighted that you competed and delighted that you "jumped in". As long as you actually accept the results and use them as a "learning experience", then your work will be better and your money was well spent. I was only pointing out how taxidermists tend to fair better when they approach this work like grade school children: make learning a gradual process.
And get this straight: I WANT YOUR WORK TO GET BETTER. That may shock some of you, but it's purely selfish on my part. When YOUR work gets better, prices will go up and everyone will benefit from it. When everyone starts charging a fair wage for a fair effort, it can only make life for taxidermists everywhere better.
For the past 3 world show, I have always had to pass up the World show for various family obligations. This year was the 4th time I have competed and the 1st year I have attended. My good buddy Bill Newman always entered my pieces and told me, if you have never been, will will never truly understand taxidermy competitions. And man was he correct. The only statement I can make about the world show is "UNBELIEVABLE". I had no clueless idea what tough was, until I said the words "Master's Division" when I entered my piece. I learned more in one week of competition than I had in the previous 11 years of competing. If you missed the show, you cheated yourself out of one of the best educations a taxidermists could ask for. My head is bulging with new tips and ideas. I am still in amazement how tight of a ship Larry and Kathy Bloomquist run. I have never seen anything like it. My hat is off to Larry and Kathy, it was amazing.
To the best of my knowledge, the Master's division winners were: Gene Smith/Whitetail, Harvey Zigler/Waterfowl, Jeff Mouring/Reproduction, John Lagar/Reptiles, Gary Bruch/Warm Water Fish, Mike Ross/Cold water fish, Jason Snowburger won all kinds of awards, Birds was a guy from another country (I think), Don Stevens won Master of Masters, Frank Newmeyer won something huge. Simon Blackshaw won the majority of the fish carving awards, George Roof won best fashion statement by a male over 50 with his realtree sports jacket, (just kidding Geo.), Tommy Hall won big with a L-S wt fawn, Andy Nimmons won with a Hog head, and I can't remember all the rest.
Anyway, I will be there in 2007. NO show compares. I am still in amazement. I have got to go to the shop now, so I can try out some of my new techniques. If I don't my head will surely explode before lunch. Amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing and unbelievabe. Good Luck to all, and thanks for sharing your friendship and knowledge.