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Friday
Jun292012

Writing Contest: What I Covet Most

From Steve Rogers:

I am one of three designated Taxidermologists, a term invented by a friend whose family has been in the business over a century. Essentially the terms definition can be seen on a taxidermy.net post a decade ago and goes as:

“Taxidermology is the study of Taxidermy, but also having knowledge of all the other ologies - Mammalogy, Ornithology, Herpetology, Icthyology, Entomology, Osteology, etc. together with knowledge of Anatomy, Behavior, Artistry, and Thirdly, Knowledge of what has gone on in the past - the masters of the trade, the history of the techniques, etc”

It is the latter aspect that excites me most. Viewing older taxidermy pieces elicit memories of the people who prepared the pieces even though you may never have met the practitioner. The piece that I would covet most would be the piece “Coming to Point” prepared by William T. Hornaday and entered into the Third Annual meeting of the Society of American Taxidermists in 1883. I have never seen the piece but have heard it was still behind the scenes at the USNM from a friend in England who searchers out old taxidermy publications and pieces.

“Coming to Point” portrays a hunting dog prepared by who I consider the Father of American Taxidermy in his early years but also the Father of Conservation after he saw the situations occurring in the world. Hornaday went west to hunt Buffalo after hearing the stories of the vast herds on the American plains. He was the hunter, as the dog was, but after finding his quarry all but gone, his entire view of his purpose on earth changed.

For me, this mount represents Hornaday as the taxidermist, the scientific collector in Borneo and the American West, and the person who saved the buffalo and fought a 30 year war for the Wildlife we have today. A 350 words essay is entirely insufficient to even begin to describe the debt we owe to Hornaday, but I think this mount is a simple representation of his hunt for the truth.

The Taxidermologist (paratype)

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