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NO GUTS, NO GLORY! The mother of all competitions.

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Joe Kish, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

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    In a recent response to one of my posts on competitions, Fishmaster mentioned how he and occasionally the late Randy Pike sat in on some of the roundtable drinking sessions during conventions when Bob Berry, Gary Zehner, Greg Septon and sometimes myself would gather in someone's room at the shows in the early 80’s. It was through the agency of these merry gatherings that spawned the Bob Berry Arrogant SOB Bird Challenge. Although not a participant, Fishmaster remembers it fondly, as others do.

    The first couple of Challenges were held in conjunction with Taxidermy Review Competitions and later circulated to state shows. The battle cry of the Challenge was, “NO GUTS, NO GLORY.” For those who may have heard of the Challenge but know little else about it, I published two articles featuring the Challenge in Taxidermy Review. Here is one story in Bob’s own words as published in Taxidermy Review decades ago. Septon, Bob and Gary.jpg
     
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  2. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

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    I apologize for the unreadable size of this post image. I'm so far from a computer geek, I'm not even on the chart. I'm asking around for someone who knows how to crop photos after which I'll re-post the image. I appreciate your patience.
     
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  3. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Joe, when I was up in Alberta at Ken Walker’s he told me about one of your meetings in which you Ken and some others were involved in. It involved adult beverages and the organizing of some secret society.
     
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  4. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

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    I trust this is readable now. Septon, Bob and Gary.jpg
     
  5. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

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    I know what you're referring to. Adult beverages are not the main feature of conventions, but they do play a modest part. The society to which you refer was not secret at all, but in this case an adult beverage was the focus of each gathering. It was a hospitality event immediately before the awards banquet in which friends would gather together in one hotel room or once on a patio, to have martini cocktails before dinner. One particular host always brought his portable martini 'kit' to give the party a bit of savoir faire. Ken attended several, I attended several, other friends and notables also came and went. It ran for several years and was fun and may still be happening for all I know.
     
  6. Skywalker

    Skywalker Well-Known Member

    Ah, the good ole days!
     
  7. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

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    Greetings Joe,
    I had heard directly of that challenge/experience twice. Tom Duran told me of a squirrel mount of his that was destroyed (I believe it was not an experience he enjoyed). Jack Wilson, the bird taxidermist from Ontario I spent a bit of time with in 1985, must have attended but not competed. He told me that there was a Belt Buckle that the entrant won - is that true?
    I appreciate your postings here though many consider your presence antithetical to the NTA and state competitions. I don't see it that way, but then I have only competed once in the last 25+ years. Without skin in the game, I have no leg to stand on so I rarely comment on these competition threads. An live ASOB competition would certainly be entertaining to see.
     
  8. fishmaster

    fishmaster Well-Known Member

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    I have fond memories of watching several ASOB competitions. We hosted it a time or two at the Missouri convention. It is the ultimate challenge of putting your best work forward because if it failed to make the cut it was destroyed. Each person that had an entry sat at the same table and each bird was passed down for a verbal critique. You got the chance to verbally defend your bird but you also got the chance to comment on all the others. Bob, Greg, and Gary were all quite witty and very knowledgeable and the comments were absolutely hilarious. However, there was a lot to learn about bird anatomy by listening carefully to their critiques.
    The birds were verbally critiqued by each participant, and each person made a thumbs up or thumbs down vote. If the majority were thumbs up the bird was set on one side. The "thumbs down" went on the other. All of the birds that made the final grade were then grouped side by side for comparison and each person again verbal compared the birds against each other. Not against a score sheet of criteria but a direct competition to determine what the best bird on the table was. Then a vote was made to determine the winner. They didn't care what second and third place was, just the winner of the group.
    The birds that were "thumb down" and had not made the final grade were then destroyed as they were deemed to be "not worthy" of existing if they did meet the bar of a superior taxidermy representation of the species. There were plenty of gasps and groans when a head was pulled off or the bird was flattened with a hammer.
    I have a video of the 1991 ASOB that was held out our show with a ringneck pheasant. Dennis Arp mounted a bird and he had a good idea that the bird would not make the grade so he sculpted very realistic human breasts on his foam bird body. They were very well painted as well. This fact was not revealed until the bird was torn apart and destroyed and we all laughed until we cried.
    The winner received an ASOB (traveling) belt buckle and the rights to name the next specie of bird. They chose the species carefully because the winner was responsible for helping to find good specimens if needed. This kept someone from naming an obscure specie that no one could get their hands on.
    The ASOB was the ultimate "put up or shut up" competition judged by your peers. While highly irreverent it was also a very serious attempt to determine the best bird taxidermist for that year. It made you put your best work forward knowing that if it failed the bird would pay the ultimate price. Along with the destroying of a few birds, some egos were also bruised.
     
  9. DTS 1046

    DTS 1046 New Member

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    As I recall, Bette and I were never to win, because we were WOMEN. Imagine that, but those late night meeting were the envy of those that could not manage to get away from their spouse and join in. There were always a few good jokes shared, and sides were sore from laughing well into the wee hours. Mike & I always said we should record them, so we could re-laugh again. I have a photo of Bette & I laughing over the sharp-tail ASOB that year.
     
  10. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

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    Yes PA, there was a belt buckle that was sculpted and cast by Greg Septon. It’s about the size of a rodeo participant’s buckle, with bold ‘ASOB’ letters dominant. I earned one for passing the first round of the two challenges I ever entered, mallard and sharp tailed grouse. Owning one was a badge of honor for making it past the first round. I checked with Berry to see if he could provide a photo of the buckle, but like myself, he has no idea where his is packed away.

    By the end of the second challenge the event was drawing a lot of bad mouthing on the grapevine from my usual critics. At a Missouri state show where Archie Phillips was judging fish and I was judging mammals Archie called me aside for some friendly advice. He warned me that there were people of influence who were on the edge of dropping their ad accounts with me in TR magazine if I persisted in associating with or promoting those “arrogant bastards”. I appreciated his gesture because Archie was actually leaking information to me I wasn’t supposed to know.

    After much thought and consulting with TR’s staunchest contributors and supporters, Bob, Greg and Gary, I chose to shove the threat back up the descending colon of those chicken fecal matter sons-of-bastiches and published the second article on the ASOBs in the very next issue of TR. The editorial below is a brief history of the precise event that spawned the Challenge. The last challenge was held in 1991 and was won by (are you ready for this?) – the great fearless Vic Heinecker. There’s a good chance Vic will send us a picture of the traveling trophy he won. I’ll put it on here when he does.

    A.S.O.B. - 1 001.jpg A.S.O.B. - 2 001.jpg
     
  11. fishmaster

    fishmaster Well-Known Member

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    Joe, Thanks for posting that editorial. I have all of the old TR's but hadn't remembered reading that. I'm glad that my fuzzy recollections of the events are somewhere close to what actually happened.
    I had not remembered that Vic was the final winner of the event. I do remember his bird though. It was called Oops! A bobwhite that had tripped over a branch and fallen on it's face. He captured the animation wonderfully. I also remember that Randy Pikes's entry was called "avalanche". He didn't think his bird would make the grade so he put it in a glass case and filled the case with artificial snow up to the throat of the bird so all they could judge was the head. As I remember it didn't survive the ordeal. I think Frank Newmeyer and Sallie Dames also had entries that year.
    That ASOB was held at the World Show when it was in Georgia.
     
  12. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

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    DL,
    Here's a photo of the last martini cocktail party I attended. It was in that big hotel with the 10-12 story interior atrium. I'm pretty sure it was WTC event because the photo is of world class friends. DSC00032.jpg
     
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  13. Carolin Brak-Dolny

    Carolin Brak-Dolny Active Member

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    A fine group of people there!
     
  14. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    AH, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen & Ken.
     
  15. wa

    wa Thanks John...this depicts me better

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    I sure miss Jack we had so much fun mounting grouse back then
     
  16. 1fish2fish

    1fish2fish Well-Known Member

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    This is a good post Joe. I hope it is read by many.
    Best, Scott
     
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  17. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

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    I appreciate the compliments on this post from everyone. I thank you one and all. As I said the Challenge continued through 1991, and was the most captivating event to occur since competitions began. The Missouri association as well as the WTC which hosted these contests deserve to be commended for risking a controversial activity in their programs in the interest of leading the field. However, Vic informed me recently that Jim Whinnery from St. Louis won it for the second time in 1991. Vic also provided the photos below. In the heat of battle it wasn't particularly important to keep an accurate score of who won when insofar as the prestige of winning didn't really matter since competitors were neither glory hounds nor prideful men with tender egos.

    The sculpture of a ruddy duck was done by Bob. Bob chose this species, among the smallest of divers, which while diminutive in stature must stand tall on land because of the location of its legs. Such an apt physical metaphor is typical of the creative genius of Bob Berry.

    It hasn’t been mentioned that the Bird Challenge was also a claiming contest in that those who passed the first round but didn’t win first place, forfeited their entries to the winner to ASOB Traveling trophy.JPG ASOB 003.JPG to be donated to a bona fide public or private museum or gallery where they would always be on view as the standard of perfection in bird work. The specimens were in fact donated to Doug Miller’s wildlife art museum in Colorado Springs, CO, where they resided until a catastrophic fire destroyed the collection along with priceless paintings and other masterful works of wildlife art.
    In the history of taxidermy competitions there is nothing comparable to the ASOB Challenges, and likely will never be again. There is only one Bob Berry and we are not him.
    ASOB Traveling trophy.JPG ASOB 003.JPG
     
  18. vic h

    vic h Member

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    I,m sorry that I'm jumping in on this thread so late but I'd like to add a few things to the conversation. After talking to Don Frank and looking at the trophy I discovered that my gut feeling after reading the post saying that I was the last winner of the ASOB was incorrect. I was not the last winner. I won the trophy in 1989. At the world show that year the bird was a quail and it was falling off an old Box Turtle shell. Randy Pike did in fact as Don said earlier competed with a bird. It was in a nice class case filled up with snow to where only its eyes and top of the head could be seen. Well, the piece titled AVALANCHE!! did not have good showing that night!! I will say this, when we took the glass cube off the bird and all the snow covered the table Randy's bird could have placed in any state show and
    maybe even won a few. The last ASOB held was in fact won by Missouri taxidermist Jim Whinnery with a Ring necked Phesant. That show was held in Missouri in 1990, It was Jim's second ASOB win.
    As a side note, the famous Sally Dames competed with a quail the year I won. Her bird survived and did not suffer the same fate as Randy's "AVALANCHE" but was turned over to me, as a prize for the great victory!!!!! ...........until I found out the bird she competed with was one she had mounted for her father. I gave her the bird the next day........HEY!!!!WE ARE ASOBS NOT JERKS!!!!! At least not all of us.
    I have some insights on the other three ASOBS I was in but that will have to wait until I get my income taxes finished.

    Vic Heincker, ASOB
     
  19. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    This whole thread has me intrigued but I can't help but wish to be able to view pictures of these winning birds. If they are/were the best of the best and should be held in that regard. It would serve as motivation for someone such as myself that doubts that my birds would even make it past the first round. I understand that many of not all were destroyed but surely there must be pictures of them before they met their demise.
     
  20. vic h

    vic h Member

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    Three bears, we are trying to find pictures but the ASOBS were held in the 'pre cell phone era" so every one was not taking photos and videos at every thing they attended. I myself have hundreds of photos of beautiful pieces I saw at shows back to 1983. I think it would be fun for us who's been around awhile if everyone who has photos to convert the paper photo into digital and post them on taxi-net. It will certainly give the younger taxidermists a better idea
    of the history of our industry and see some of the excellent work that was created with a lot less resources than we have now. I will try to post some when I can. I will call out Fish Master by saying I know he has a video of the 1991 ASOB I hope he remembers he has it, but he did conk his head when he fell off the stage...and he did cut his finger....trying to pull my perfect piece off the habitat!!! Those were good times......Right Don?

    Vic .....ASOB
     
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