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UTA 2016 Competition Winners

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.

Although the competition was impressive, the attendance for the show was way down. This was mainly due to the unfortunate date of the show falling on Memorial Day weekend. In all fairness, this wasn’t the UTA’s fault. Their original venue had been scheduled well in advance for two weeks earlier. However, when the original convention center was damaged by flooding in 2015, the facility abruptly cancelled the UTA’s reservation. This action left the board members scrambling to find an alternative site without as much lead time as they would like. All of the preferable dates were reserved for other events, and the Memorial Day weekend was the only time available to reserve a convention site with short notice. So, in a way, it was an act of God which chose the dates.

I have no doubt that the UTA will come back stronger for their next convention in two years, as their earlier bi-annual Expos were always well-attended shows gaining in momentum each year. The United Taxidermists Association is a creative, flexible and friendly group of like-minded artisans who focus more on helping taxidermists improve their livelihood than on putting on a convention. The all-volunteer staff works tirelessly behind the scenes 12 months a year to serve taxidermists and enrich experiences in the industry.

Flexible? The board of directors were as nimble as cats and could move just as quickly. Due to the low turnout, on Saturday morning the board moved up the award banquet by six hours; pushing it back to noon and opening it to all attendees. It was a smart move and everyone in attendance appreciated the consideration. Lead by the creative minds of Craig Lewis and Brenda Duvall, the UTA has always shown a willingness for trying out new ideas and thinking outside of the box.

In spite of the low turnout, or maybe because of it, a great time was had by all. The attendees, judges, staff, vendors and competitors all agreed that this was a fun get-together, with outstanding opportunities for learning at the informative seminars, which at times resembled one-on-one instruction with some of the top artists in our industry. It was great to have the time to spend leisurely visiting with old friends and making new ones.

UTA 2016 Awards Banquet

At the Saturday awards banquet, the following pieces were announced as the major award winners. Congratulations to all the artists listed below on their achievements.


Best Professional Turkey — Jason Lamb, New Market, AL


Best Professional Whitetail Deer — Butch Irwin, Albany, KY


Best Professional Small/Medium Mammal — Joe Simmons, Slippery Rock, PA


Best Professional Mammal Group — Coryell Koch, Sullivan, MO


Best Professional Reproduction — Jim Hess, Byron, IL


Best Professional Skeleton — Jim Hess, Byron, IL


Best Professional Large Mammal and Best Professional Entry — Coryell Koch, Sullivan, MO


McKenzie Taxidermists’ Choice Award: Best Bird — Mike Nakelski, Iron Ridge, WI


McKenzie Taxidermists’ Choice Award: Best Fish — Jim Hess, Byron, IL


McKenzie Taxidermists’ Choice Award: Best Whitetail Deer — Clint Rickey, Dodgeville, WI


McKenzie Taxidermists’ Choice Award: Best Lifesize Mammal — David Schmidt, Palmyra, WI


Research Mannikins Best Lifesize Mammal Award — Brian Hendricks, Scottville, MI


Star*Fish Award and The Polytranspar Award– Rodney Schreurs, Cedar Grove, WI


Van Dyke’s Most Creative Award, The Taxidermy Today Woody Award and Pro-1 Performance Chemical Award — Jean Roll, Perry, MI


UTA Best All-Around Masters Taxidermist — Rodney Schreurs, Cedar Grove, WI


UTA Competitiors’ Award: Professional — Coryell Koch, Sullivan, MO


UTA Competitiors’ Award: Masters — Mike Nakelski, Iron Ridge, WI


UTA Masters Champion: Waterfowl — Mike Nakelski, Iron Ridge, WI


UTA Masters Champion: Non-Waterfowl — Rodney Schreurs, Cedar Grove, WI


UTA Masters Champion: Bird Group — Mike Nakelski, Iron Ridge, WI


UTA Masters Champion: Whitetail Deer — Clint Rickey, Dodgeville, WI


UTA Masters Champion: Game Head — Jean Roll, Perry, MI


UTA Masters Champion: Small/Medium Mammal — Jean Roll, Perry, MI


UTA Masters Champion: Large Mammal Award — Brian Hendricks, Scottville, MI


UTA Masters Champion: Mammal Group — David Schmidt, Palmyra, WI


UTA Masters Champion: Mixed Group — Rodney Schreurs, Cedar Grove, WI
(The top sea lamprey was a skin mount and the lower one was a reproduction.)


UTA Masters Champion: Reptile — Rodney Schreurs, Cedar Grove, WI


UTA Masters Champion: Reproduction — Rodney Schreurs, Cedar Grove, WI



UTA Masters Champion: Collective Artists — Mike Nakelski, Iron Ridge, WI and Rodney Schreurs, Cedar Grove, WI
(Mike mounted the hooded mergansers and Rodney made the polywogs and habitat.)


UTA Masters Champion: Original Art — Brian Hendricks, Scottville, MI


UTA Challenge of the States — Team Wisconsin, Dave Schmidt, Rodney Schreurs, Mike Nakelski and Clint Rickey


The WASCO Award and the Breakthrough Judges’ Choice Best of Show Award — Rodney Schreurs, Cedar Grove, WI


UTA Artisan Award — David Schmidt, Palmyra, WI

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