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The NTA 2011 Winners Gallery

Next week in Rogers, Arkansas, the National Taxidermists Association will meet for the 41st time to hold their annual convention and competition. For many of those conventions, I have had the privilege to serve as the show photographer which allowed me close access to see and examine every mount. During the awards banquet, we always project photos of the winning entries on the big screen as the winners are announced.



As I was gathering my photography equipment for the trip to Arkansas next week, I realized that the photos of the winners from last year’s banquet had never been made public, except to the NTA members who attended the banquet in person. 2011’s convention was held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the competition was very impressive.

Here are the major award winners from last July’s NTA competition as they were shown when the awards were handed out. You can click on an image and move through the slide show with your arrow keys or your mouse.

NTA Major Award Winners 2011

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The History of Award Winner Photos

I sometimes like to add a bit of taxidermy history trivia which pertains to the subject of my article. This week got me to thinking about the first time that photos of winning entries were shown during an awards banquet. It was in 1986 at the World Taxidermy Championships in Lawrence, Kansas, and it was quite a complicated ordeal to accomplish before the age of video and digital photography. We actually used two dedicated 35mm film cameras to photograph every entry in the competition with slide film. My assistants at Breakthrough, Terry Chidester and Erica Smoker, were assigned to this daunting task. We had to shoot every single entry, because at the time of the photography we did not know who the winners would be. We then drove over an hour to Kansas City to deliver the film to a 24-hour film processing lab that we had lined up ahead of time. The next day, we drove back to retrieve the 35mm slides from the lab and spent the rest of the day identifying each of the hundreds of pieces by writing the entry number on each slide. Before the awards presentation, we placed the slides in a carousel in the order that they would be announced. As each winner was revealed, we advanced to the next slide which was projected on a screen up on the stage.

As the top winners of the 1986 World Taxidermy Championships were announced, it was the first time that taxidermists had ever seen photos of the winning entries at an awards show. The presentation was a tremendous hit with the participants. From that moment on, all World and later National shows included revealing the photos of the winning entries at the moment the winners were announced. Technology has radically changed over the years making this process much easier, as we evolved from film, to video, and then on to Power Point presentations, but the result has been the same.

Back when we used video to shoot the winning entries, the pieces had to be videotaped in the camera in the order that they were to be announced. Since we never knew all the major winners until the wee hours of the morning, we would generally have to stay up all night. Most of those video shoots were made Saturday morning at about 5:30 a.m., after taking photographs all night long. This was always an exhausting task, and I spent many a long night with Larry Blomquist and Bobby Lofton pushing large displays into the photography area. (We would often bestow the “Bobby Lofton Easy Roller Award” on large pieces that were easily moved.) I definitely do not miss those all-nighters, as year after year I would turn to Larry and say, “We’re getting too old for this …”

The 2010 NTA Major Award Winners Gallery – Springfield, Illinois

The 2009 NTA Major Award Winners Gallery – Huntsville, Alabama

The 2008 NTA Major Award Winners Gallery – Lubbock, Texas

The 2007 NTA Major Award Winners Gallery – Louisville, Kentucky

The 2006 NTA Major Award Winners Gallery – Billings, Montana

The 2005 NTA Major Award Winners Gallery – Sioux Falls, South Dakota

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