TALK TAXIDERMY FOR A CHANGE I'm going to start by telling you a few incidents I endured while out on big game hunts over the years. Broadus, Montana, 1980's - Pronghorn/Mule Deer Combo Combo hunts in this area are usually 100% opportunity and with 15 hunters in camp, each night after supper, the outfitters went to the skinning shed. When they found I was a taxidermist, they made no subtleties about my coming out to help them (free of course). Anyway, this one hunter was a pain in the ass. He'd shot a nice buck antelope and he wanted to make a rug of it. I told him it was a very bad idea as prongs (at that time, no commercial tannery would accept them) have very loose, brittle hair and that it comes out very easily even when the animal is alive. Mr. Know-it-all (KIA) tells me he has a "professional" taxidermist who can take care of it. The guides want nothing to do with the skinning so I get the job. While they skinned and caped half a dozen animals, I worked this prong. I finally got it done, rolled it in a ball and put it in a plastic bag awaiting to put in in the freezer. Here come KIA and he tells me he wants to see how I skinned it. I tell him but he insists on seeing it. I hand him the bag. He dumps it out on the bloody floor and I tell him the blood will soak into the hairs. He quickly grabs the hide in the middle of the back and lifts it up, coming up with two fists full of beautiful pronghorn hair. The guides were rolling but it was me who had to remind him of what happened. He swore I'd messed it up in skinning. He told the guides not to let me touch his mule deer. Cochrane, Ontario - 2015 - Black bear hunt Pretty neat set up with individual cabins for each separate hunting party. A mom and son operation, bears were over abundant with the one a season at that time. My buddy and I shared a small cabin while 6 hunters from PA shared a large trailer. Opening night, my buddy nails an average size boar with a good summer coat I ask him how he intends to have it mounted. He tells me that he wants it standing erect. No problem. I tell the outfitter I'll skin it and then he can gut it and cut it up for the butcher. I lay the bear on it's belly, and begin making a dorsal cut as the belly hair is almost non-existent. I slowly cut from between the ears down the neck, making small opposing cuts in the incision so that the hide will align during mounting. As I continue, a guy out of the PA cabin comes running up, demanding to know what I'm doing. I'm a bit surprised but I tell him I'm skinning the bear. He says, "That's not the way you skin a bear. You have to cut it up the belly." I tell him the guy wants an upright bear and I'm dorsal cutting it so the seam won't show. He tells me, "Well, I'm a professional taxidermist and that's not the way it's done." I asked how long he'd been a taxidermist and he said 5 years. I laughed and told him I'd been doing taxidermy over 50 years and hiding the seam is impossible on these bare belly animals. He tells me, "A real taxidermist can hide that with no problems." I told him I probably wasn't a real taxidermist and he walked away. Best one Bettles, Alaska - 1995- Barren Ground Caribou This was a do-it-yourself hunt where I and 3 buddies contracted a bush plane to drop us out in the wilderness north of Gateway to Alaska National Park. Due to extensive fires in the peat underground, visibility was nil at times and we were stuck in primitive hangar sleeping on the floor for a few days. Winds picked up a bit and the planes went out to retrieve hunters that had been stranded before we could get out. That night, two hunters from Missouri came in. One of them had a really nice bull as they found a place on the floor hangar floor to crash. The next morning, I saw the guy with the nice caribou cutting the antlers off the skull plate. I couldn't imagine dehorning such a lovely specimen but anyway. Then he took the saw to the antler and began cutting it into 12 inch pieces. I remarked that it seemed a terrible waste to make knife handles out of such a lovely specimen. He snapped back that he was going to have the animal shoulder mounted. I almost went into panic and asked him why he was destroying the antlers. He said he was cutting them like that so he could carry them in his baggage without paying extra. I quickly told him that there was no way those antlers could be reattached and re-segmented to mount them. He told me had a "good professional taxidermist" at home who wouldn't have a problem. Again, I assumed that I was neither good nor professional and let him destroy that gorgeous bull.