Last month our industry scored a victory against anti-hunting zealots in the state of New Jersey, largely due to the efforts two men; the amazing John Jackson of the Conservation Force, and unstoppable taxidermy advocate John Janelli. These two JJs joined with the Garden State Taxidermy Association and five New Jersey big game hunters to file suit against the state of New Jersey in Federal court. On August 29, Federal Judge Freda Wolfson found in favor of the plaintiffs and struck down the African trophy import ban which had been signed into law earlier this summer by Governor Chris Christie. For those who haven’t followed the chronology of events of this strange journey, here is a recap.
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I had known Stephen Rogers for 30 years, but we had never met in person until last month. As a contributor to Breakthrough Magazine starting in 1986, and later as one of our most prolific and appreciated writers on the Taxidermy Net Forum, we have corresponded countless times throughout the three decades of our long-distance friendship. I have been a fan of his writing since the beginning, always looking forward to his fascinating articles. As the Collection Manager of Birds, Amphibians and Reptiles at the prestigious Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Steve rarely got the chance to attend national conventions.
This all changed when the National Taxidermist Association came to Seven Springs, Pennsylvania for their 45th annual convention. I was happy to meet Steve and his wife for the first time and was delighted to see that he had brought his very own competition entry based upon his profound interest in the history of taxidermy. As our own resident historian on the Forum, Stephen’s love of taxidermy history is evident in everthing he writes. Just browsing through the historical posts he has made as “PA” is like reading a master textbook on our profession.
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It’s a long, long ride to Lubbock from just about anywhere. Even most Texans had to drive all day to get there. But once they arrived, it was well worth it. Lubbock, Texas is a great city with an outstanding Civic Center. It seems like every eight years I wind up at this beautiful facility, having attended two National Shows here in 2000 and 2008, and now the Texas Taxidermy Association, Inc.’s 2016 convention.
The more time I spend in Texas, the more I truly believe that the Texas Association puts on the best state show in America. The depth of talent and intelligence in their organization is without equal. Scores of enthusiastic volunteers make everyone feel welcome and do whatever is necessary to pull off this massive undertaking without drama or anxiety. Their entire convention seems to run like a Swiss watch, humming along with efficiency and accuracy, while putting all attendees at ease.
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As Mike Kirkhart pointed out when he gave the invocation at the awards banquet, The National Taxidermy Association is like a family. And just like a family, we have gone through many highs and lows during the past 45 years, but now all indications reveal that we are in a definite upward trajectory. At the annual convention last week in Pennsylvania, you could not have asked for a more beautiful facility, better weather, higher-quality entries, or nicer people attending and running the show. Every aspect of the convention was indeed top-notch. Even the food was great! Out of the hundreds of banquet meals I have endured in my life, I believe this one was the most delicious!
Last week in Seven Springs Mountain Resort, the National Taxidermists Association met for the 45th time to hold their annual convention and competition. For most of those conventions, I have had the privilege to serve as the show photographer which allowed me close access to see every mount. The quality of the taxidermy work was the finest I have ever seen at a national convention. Several entries actually got perfect scores!
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If there was a “Guinness Book of World Records” entry for the highest-quality overall taxidermy in a competition, then any past record would have surely been broken at the 2016 United Taxidermists Association Convention in Louisville, Kentucky this May. With a full two-thirds of the entries receiving blue ribbons, and over 90% of all the entries achieving red or blue ribbons, this was easily the most consistent display of excellent works of taxidermy ever assembled. The judging wasn’t easy. The judges were as tough as they would be at any national or international competition. The overall quality was just that good. Even though the numbers were down, walking through the competition area was an inspirational experience.
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