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Time Capsule: 2003 NTA Show

From 1988 until 2002, I used a 35mm film camera to shoot photos at the National Taxidermists Association conventions each year. As the show photographer, I was responsible for making studio photos of all of the award-winning entries, as well as candid shots of people, seminars, the trade show, meetings and the awards banquet. Sometimes I would also use a large-format camera as well to shoot special pieces that were destined for magazine covers or full-page advertisements.

In those days, Larry Blomquist and I would shoot dozens of rolls of film, carefully checking the flash exposure with a light meter to make sure that when we had the film processed the following week, we wouldn’t be disappointed by a ruined batch of under- or over-exposed photos. We never actually knew how the photos would turn out until we got them back from the photo processing lab a week later. Then we would have to match up each roll to our notes, writing the name and entry number on the back of each print to make sure everything was properly identified.

In 2003, we took the leap into the digital age. Using a $999 Sony Mavica camera, with an amazing (at the time) 3.3 megapixel image size with a 6x zoom Carl Zeiss lens, we felt that we could shoot digital photos that would be close to the quality we were achieving with film. There were no memory cards. Each photo file was recorded on a mini-CDR spinning in the back of the camera. There was an annoying 6 second lag while each file was burned to the CDR before you could take another photo, but that was a small price to pay for being able to see a low-resolution version of the photos on a tiny LCD screen immediately after taking them.

While backing up some data files this week, I stumbled across the photos from the 2003 NTA convention, which were the oldest digital files I had from a major taxidermy convention. When I looked through the images, I marveled at the incredible depth of talent that was represented at that show. Many of today’s legendary taxidermists were represented with some of their most beautiful work. The top award winning entries have never been showcased on the internet, so I thought it would be appropriate to go back in time 10 years with a gallery of the major award winners from the 2003 National Taxidermists Association convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

2003 NTA Major Award Winners

Rick Carter North American Champion Whitetail Deer Pedestal
Taxidermist of the Year
RICK CARTER Bogart, GA 271 Whitetail Deer

Joseph Bruchac Memorial Award
RICK CARTER Bogart, GA 271 Whitetail Deer

North American Champion, Whitetail Pedestal
RICK CARTER Bogart, GA 271 Whitetail Deer


Judges’ Choice Best of Show
JEFF MOURNING Littleton, CO 125 Tiger Trout

Breakthrough Award
JEFF MOURNING Littleton, CO 125 Tiger Trout

Challenge of the Art of Taxidermy – First Place
JEFF MOURNING Littleton, CO 125 Tiger Trout

North American Champion, Warm Water Fish Skin Mount
JEFF MOURNING Littleton, CO 125 Tiger Trout


People’s Choice
ROY HOLDRIDGE, TARA TIBLJAS and KEN HOWARD Granbury, TX 251 Giraffe


Best All-Around Taxidermist
JOHN LAGER Littleton, CO 96 Fox Squirrel
JOHN LAGER Littleton, CO 93 Mountain Goat
JOHN LAGER Littleton, CO 81 Chukar Partridge
JOHN LAGER Littleton, CO 91 Koi


Distinguished Taxidermist Award
JEFF MOURNING Littleton, CO 125 Leopard Gecko

North American Champion, Reptile Reproduction
JEFF MOURNING Littleton, CO 125 Leopard Gecko


The WASCO Award
JIM KIMBALL Abbotsford, WI 137 Northern Shoveler

North American Champion, Waterfowl
JIM KIMBALL Abbotsford, WI 137 Northern Shoveler


Safari Club International Award
KEN WALKER Alberta Beach, BC 299 Giant Panda Recreation

Roger Martin Award
KEN WALKER Alberta Beach, BC 299 Giant Panda Recreation


North American Champion, Bird
JIM KIMBALL Abbotsford, WI 140 Ringneck Pheasant

Pheasants Forever Award
JIM KIMBALL Abbotsford, WI 140 Ringneck Pheasant


North American Champion, Warm Water Fish Skin Mount
BILL NEWMAN Holdenville, OK 81 Spotted Gar


North American Champion, Small Mammal
JOHN LAGER Littleton, CO 96 Fox Squirrel


National Champion, Bird
HARRY WHITEHEAD Lexington, KY 87 Gould’s Turkey

Frank Newmyer Award
HARRY WHITEHEAD Lexington, KY 87 Gould’s Turkey


National Champion, Waterfowl
KEN HOWARD Fort Worth, TX 256 Widgeon


National Champion, Cold Water Fish Skin Mount
FRANK KOTULA Wilkes-Barre, PA 157 Brown Trout


National Champion, Warm Water Fish Skin Mount
DALE CARSON Madison Heights, VA 40 Smallmouth Bass

Matt Thompson Award
DALE CARSON Madison Heights, VA 40 Smallmouth Bass


National Champion, Warm Water Fish Reproduction
FRANK KOTULA Wilkes-Barre, PA 160 Spadefish

Star-Fish Award
FRANK KOTULA Wilkes-Barre, PA 160 Spadefish


National Champion, Reptile Skin Mount
RODNEY SCHREURS Cedar Grove, WI 302 Monitor


National Champion, Reptile Reproduction
RODNEY SCHREURS Cedar Grove, WI 301 Chameleon


National Champion, Small Mammal
AMY RITCHEY Midland, NC 20 Field Mouse

Henry Wichers Inchumuk Award
AMY RITCHEY Midland, NC 20 Field Mouse


National Champion, Large Mammal
GARY L. REPASKY, JR. Clarence, PA 44 Whitetail Deer


National Champion, Gamehead
FRAZIER CRAIG Aiken, SC 163 Wild Boar


National Champion, Whitetail
T. MARK GIPSON Carnesville, GA 71 Whitetail Deer


National Champion, Whitetail Pedestal
ED PIASKOWSKI Massillon, OH 27 Whitetail Deer


Van Dyke’s Award
DONALD OLIVER Charlotte Hall, MD 186 Wild Boar

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