Check back weekly to keep up to date in the Silver Willow Taxidermy shop - from animals that have just been finished to excursions afield collecting habitat, reference, hunting or following us down the competition road. Click on any image for a larger view.
Spring is near! For us it means maybe rolling up the big doors and let the spring air flow through the shop while we are working. I guess you could say we have been cooped up for the winter in here. It does mean though we have been hard at it doing everything again. We have made a couple trips to the U.S. for supplies, we have been skinning with some great help that showed up, thanks Clint. Well I can probably say that we have now moved through the deer and are onto different projects. We just did a decent run on some small game fur bearers and they look great. We have also taken in a bunch of nice fur too, it too is going to look great on the wall. Not much new to report other than just skinning and mounting and delivering.
A couple days ago I filled up the trailer and made the trip to Red Deer and Cochrane to deliver some sheep, New Zealand animals and some African. It has created a nice open echo in the showroom. I never showed anyone this piece while it was here, it was too risky to have elephant ivory in the shop and let the whole world know it was here. Anyways it is gone now, delivered to the client, what a neat piece.
I hope everyone has been having a good fall. From what I have seen and heard, it looks like the bow hunters are really doing well this year from deer elk and moose and even bears. Bow hunting seems to be gaining lots of momentum and I believe it has to do with the increased chances with over the counter tags and weather as well.
In the shop here, it has been non stop action. We have a few weeks where it is just mount mount mount then like yesterday it was skin all day til late in the evening. We are blessed again to have a great client base and for people to trust us with their animals.
Monday was spent delivering to Southern Alberta and this stone sheep I dropped off in Calgary. This was an early season sheep with a nice slick hide, beauty mount that turned out well.
Its has been awhile since I have sat down at the computer to put together a blog . We have been very steady in the shop, mostly catching up on some back projects that were delayed at the tannery but were getting some of that back log along with some new stuff mounted up. Even though it is not hunting season yet, we still have some animals coming in, I guess that comes with the business and I probably wouldn't want it where nothing came in and only during seasons.
Some of the animals that have been mounted this past little while in the shop have been a lifesize stone sheep, lifesize dall sheep, some African animals and a quite a few rugs, mountain goat, grizzly and wolves. There are three of us that keep the shop rolling on a regular basis and some days four would be great but we have a good crew here that cares about the final product.
Here is an example of one of the finished products recently out of the shop. It is a greater kudu and it shows what teamwork does. I mounted it and then it went onto finishing where the painting was done by one of our staff who nailed this paint job. I can't say enough about our staff.
Recently, Curtis and I completed an epic two day delivery/pick-up circuit that included stops in Elk Point, Smoky Lake, Thorhild, Athabasca, Slave Lake, Valley View, Mayerthorpe and Edmonton. A huge shout out to all our clients that met with us. Everyone was so punctual! It made our trip so much easier and it was great to visit with all of you. It was our anniversary as well, so as a treat to ourselves we managed to sneak in a couple hours of bear hunting at Fox Creek and a stay in Whitecourt at "The Ritz'. Very romantic, I know, don't be jealous ladies. If it makes you feel any better, we didn't get a bear.
One of the mounts we dropped off was this gorgeous wolverine done for a client from Northern Alberta. We would like to thank them for driving many hours to bring us such a beautiful animal. Clients are always interested in seeing the exotics in our show room, but I think wolverines make jaw-dropping mounts. Wolverines often have unique markings and colour variations and look good in just about any pose. Who wouldn't want this guy to hang on their wall? Don't worry if you don't have your own wolverine, we get many requests and have access to taxidermy quality tanned wolverine hides to purchase for your mount. Remember it's never too early to start planning for a Christmas or birthday present to yourself.
Busy, Busy, Busy! That is the best way to describe what has been going on. There have been some long days in the shop and I can say we're making headway. So our tannery got us a bunch of capes and hides back from the tannery. Most of it is African and there are eight clients that have been patiently waiting for their mounts so we're trying to do a little of everyone's safari so they can all enjoy their trophies.
Back in April we attended a competition in Montana and we capitalized on the moment to save on shipping and haul a pile of forms back. So now that is what we are doing. I also have two helpers that are a massive bonus in the shop and they are doing a great job by keeping everything flowing.
Back on the subject of competition, here are the two pieces we took. The coyote was a collective piece which means more than one person worked on it. Quinn my son helped with it as it was his personal trophy that he took. We scored really well on it in a very stiff division. The elk was a personal trophy which got me a third place ribbon in the Masters division.
I hope its not too long for my next blog, I will try my best to update more often, thanks for following us and being patient in waiting for the blogs to come.
Hello again from the shop. A lot has been going on since our last blog which was quite awhile ago so where do I start? Well we got lots of capes back from the tannery which were mostly all African hides and we have been waiting some time for those ones to get back. We are lucky to have very patient customers and we will soon be starting on those projects.
Back a couple blogs when I discussed some behind the scenes stuff and shop happenings, well this delivery of capes is a prime example of what happens behind the scenes. These capes went for tanning a year ago January and I have a few emails asking for them in my priority list and we also have the receipt of when we got them back. Once the hide gets to the tannery, it is pretty much out of my control. There are thousands of hides at the tannery and they all have a priority and if a tannery becomes overloaded as what happened here, (which I didn't know) then it piles up for them and then eventually for me too. So some of you might think,"why doesn't he hound them to get them back?". Well its not that easy. That is the last thing you want to do is hound the tannery. All you are doing is making people rush your hides and when it comes to big razor sharp wheels fleshing your prized skins and others putting the right amount of tan into your hide, you want it done right, not rushed. Now sometimes it goes a little over board but in my case, the tannery we used does great work therefor has many clients so unfortunately we have to get in line. In the end your mount will get back but sometimes there are some snags.
In the shop we have been still working quite steady. I got a couple cougars mounted up last week, big jobs out of the way. This week will see a monster elk mounted, half lifesize deer and maybe a couple rugs, stay tuned for some of those pics. I was looking back through some pics and ran across this little cougar I mounted last year. I love the expression on this white and black pic.
We have been falling down a bit on keeping the updates regular, sorry for that. It has been hectic here as we have been doing deliveries and mounts and finishing up some mounts for pick up. I wish I could explain all that in some more behind the scenes stuff but that would be too big of a blog for one issue. This past week for example seen us doing everything from woodwork,habitat, paint and deliver. Sunday morning at 6:30a.m our truck and trailer rolled out of the yard and went to Grande Prairie, Valleyview and we met some clients from Peace River to take them their animals back. I got back in Monday afternoon and straight back in the shop and haven't stopped since.
This past year our projects have gotten bigger and bigger so some weeks we only mount one animal but there is a ton of prep work to the forms or hides, very seldom does it not require hours and days of prepping. Right now I am about six week behind where I would like to be and we are making every effort to get them weeks back and we will but it will come slow. We have employed two part time helpers and it has been a big bonus, we can only pray we keep making head way.
Here is an example of one of those projects I spoke of. This lion had twenty hours alone just in the mounting of it. That did not include the form prep and hide prep. These are fun but big jobs that take some time.
I received some feedback on the last blog in regards to the behind the scenes topic and it was a good response. Some of the people didn’t know about what goes on and they found it informative.
In a few of the chat rooms and outdoor forums lately there has been some negative discussion in regards to taxidermists. Lots of it stems around pricing and turn around. Something to think about when you are shopping for prices is what are you getting? What credentials does your taxidermist have to justify charging what they do? You need to compare apples to apples. A good understanding of animals from the hunters side is a big bonus. One thing to look at is colors of the finished product. Is the nose pad the actual color of a deer nose? Or is it just black? How about eye shape? Is the deer squinting? I have never seen a reference photo of a squinting deer. Once you start seeing these details, you will soon see that maybe what the taxidermist is charging what they have put into your mount. Some taxidermists have paid for training under some of the industry’s top taxidermists, some are world and national champions.
For me I have done this and put many dollars into competing which has improved my work. In a way I look at all of this as my post secondary education and I am paying for what I have learned. A taxidermist that is always trying to learn is a taxidermist trying their best. If your taxidermist has not competed or invested in proper training with credible people, then you will get the animals with black noses and incorrect anatomy. That may sound harsh but too many times I have heard that a deer mount is a deer mount is a deer mount. On the other side, if you are paying a great deal for a mount then you should expect details.
Here is pic a mounted deer eye that I did and I believe has taken many years and tons of miles and money to make correct. Again look deeper into your taxidermy and see if you’re getting what you pay for.
This week I want to change it up a little and instead of telling what we have done and showing you what has left the shop, I want to talk a little about the behind the scenes stuff that quite a few don't know.
There is a huge misconception of what happens to your animals once they are dropped off at a taxidermy shop. Lots of people think that once the animal is dropped off, it is immediately skinned, and sent by itself to the tannery. This is far from what does happen. What does happen is if it is froze, it must thaw. This could take days to thaw then skin. Once it is skinned, it does not go to the tannery, it still needs some prep work. Ears turned, lips turned and fleshed and salted for 48hrs then dried down. This process can take up to five days total for one deer cape. Moose and elk take longer. Now once it is dry it goes in a crate. The crate gets shipped once it is full. It is not as simple as putting a lid on it and sending to the tannery. Each hide must be numbered and then every single skin needs to be put on an export permit from the government. Once that is done and signed, then shipping is arranged. So once the crate is gone, a new crate is started. Depending on the time of year, the crate could take a few months to fill. So if you missed the shipping, your hide will be in the new crate until it is full.
We have some that need to know how this works and the magnitude of what goes on behind the scenes so they can better understand why it takes the time it does at a taxidermy shop. Each blog going forward for the next few we are going to try and show more behind the scenes stuff.
With that, we want to announce that for the month of February only, we will not be accepting any animals for skinning. Out of respect for the customers projects who have taken a back seat during skinning season, we need to move forward on their projects. If you have an animals you want us to do or a safari you want us to receive, we will still take it in but it must be fully prepped for the tanning crate or wait until March to bring it. Again this only for the month of February.
Here are a couple pics of what a typical skinning day looks like.
Happy New Year! It has been a long time since our last blog I know, but I am just finding the time now. It has been really busy this past couple months with skinning and trying to keep up production but it is hard to burn the candle at both ends. In an effort to help with this, we hired some part time help to take some of the projects off our plate like setting up forms and some skinning projects. Some deer are still rolling in which is requiring my attention still. We have seen a slight reduction in the flow this past few weeks and we may limit our intake coming up if it looks like moving forward will be an issue.
What have we been working on? Well I mounted a life size nyala, half mount grizzly, quite a few deer in the past couple weeks. We worked right until the night of the 23rd before Christmas and were back in the shop on the 27th. If you have a project here still, yes were a bit backed up but I can assure you were gaining ground and will be coming up to it soon.
Here is a beauty deer that went back before the holiday season. I love working on these non typicals and the habitat along with it just adds to it. it is something you should keep in mind on your next mount.
Here we are in the last week of deer season and, thanks to the weather, it feels like we just started. The deer are starting to roll in now and you guys are finding some beauties! Here's a few tips to help keep your trophies in their best condition before they make it to our shop.
- Avoid dragging your animal at all costs. We have seen many capes accidentally ruined by dragging.
- Leave more hide than you think we'll need when skinning the cape off the body, and never cut in front of the brisket. We can always cut off excess, but we can't add it back on.
- Don't worry about caping out your trophy's head if you are not experienced- most clients don't do their own. It's much better to let us do it rather than risk having your buddy cut the eyelids off your cape.
- Treat your cape as you would a perishable food product in order to prevent hair slippage. Cool your cape and head as fast as possible and freeze it if you can't drop it off to us fresh.
- Be careful about leaving your cape and head in the box of your truck as hair will freeze to the bed and then pull out when you try to move it. Plastic wrap, garbage bags or a rubber tub will prevent damage. Also, don't leave your frozen head exposed outside for too long to prevent the eyes and nose from freeze drying.
- Relax, it's probably fixable! Stuff happens and we can repair broken antlers, sew holes in capes or else find you a replacement cape if needed.
Besides skinning and taking in animals, we have also been busy sending finished deer mounts out with clients. The last batch of 2015 deer capes just arrived from the tannery so it won't be long before they are all stitched up and ready to go home like this beautiful, wide mule buck.
I just got looking back and it has been way too long since the last blog, sorry for that. It has been quite hectic to say the least in the shop. It all started with the antelope season and has not stopped. Along with the antelope, a few African shipments have come in along with some other local critters. As well we received a whack of deer capes back from the tannery so we are trying our best to get through them. So if you are wondering on the status of your deer, it is either mounted and up drying or it is going to be mounted very soon.
Just a heads up for the month of November for the rifle season in Alberta and the first two weeks in December for the Saskatchewan season. We will be having our one night late drop off night which will be Mondays until 8:00pm. This should give those who cannot make it by our regular close time of 6:00pm time to get here. With other family and sport commitments, we have to stay to this night only. If you cannot make it on this night, the weather here in Alberta should allow for your animal to keep until you can make it during the hours we are open. Thanks for the understanding and good luck this season.
Here is an antelope I finished from last season. Consider adding some habitat to your next mount, it will make quite a difference.
A little while ago Canadian Forces Base Suffield contacted me about an old buffalo mount they had hanging in the Officers Mess that was in desperate need of repair.
They wanted to know what I would charge to fix all the cracks, clean it up and repair the cracked nose and broken horn. I told them that for what the military does for us every day, we would fix it at no charge and deliver it back.
Last weekend we made the journey three hours south to deliver it. After taking delivery of the refurbished buffalo, Officer Harrison was kind enough to give the boys a tour. He took us through the workshops where they fix all the military equipment and let the boys climb in and on the tanks they use every day and took his time to explain how they work. We had a lot of questions and he answered them all very graciously. The boys loved it and I have to say, Jen and I really enjoyed it too.
Thanks to the military for everything they do for us and for giving us an unforgettable field trip through the base.
Another week or so has went by since the last blog and a few things have been happening. I have been flying solo around here as Jen decided she would take a week and head to the mountains sheep hunting. From the forecast I have seen, I would be willing to bet they have seen snow and quite a bit of rain. But today is the opener and hopefully they are sitting on a ram today, I will know more in a couple days. So with her gone, I am covering the admin part and parental duties for the week. That being said, we have got some critter mounted up and out this week too so the shop is holding its own. We also got notifications from two tanneries that more capes are on the way, mostly deer and were just coming up to the deer for mounting so the timing is perfect. We have a week or so of other mounts then were going to stop and do a lifesize lion then right into the deer. So if any of you that are wondering the status of a mount, were still on track for our quoted timelines.
While were talking about deer, here is one that left the shop not long ago. this was an early season deer from last fall from Northern Saskatchewan. This form is one I sculpted and mounted on so now that form is in production so that is why it was done a little ahead of schedule. I think it turned out really nice and now is available to order.
Good luck to all the Alberta sheep hunters and to the archers who will be out in full force starting next week.
Once again time has flew by and I have to say sorry for not keeping up with the updates. A lot has been happening during that time, lots of animals leaving the shop, quite a few getting mounted as well. Two major projects were taken in, one was a huge beef steer and the other a massive beef bull. Both animals were huge undertakings just to get them to the salting stage. Also some really nice New Zealand animals found their way to the shop, three lucky hunters took some nice animals over there and had a great trip.
Speaking of which, we are considering putting a group together to go to New Zealand next spring for a stag and fallow deer hunt. If this is something that may interest you, let us know. Right now we have one for sure and about six maybes that would go over to hunt.
Here is one of the big projects that just left the shop. Todd Hult of Lloydminster took this beauty bear with a great hide and huge skull. Todd wanted a pretty aggressive style mount for this bear. When we delivered it to his house, it barely fit through the door, I think maybe there was a half inch to spare eh Todd? Thanks again Todd.
First, some business - Please note that we will only be accepting bears until July 1, 2016. We have limited freezer space and need to thaw, flesh and salt bear hides as soon as they arrive. Bears brought in the summer months are difficult to thaw safely in hot weather and we don't want to risk spoilage due to uneven thawing. We will resume taking in bears September 1, 2016.
If you did get a bear this year, congrats! We noticed bear season was a little slower this year, probably due to the recreational ATV ban. I am impressed by the number of hard core bear hunters that still went out. One of our clients and his buddy had to pack his bear out of the bush tied to a pole, pioneer style. Talk about committing to the hunt, lol. If you were lucky enough to get a bear this year and you are not sure what you want to do with it, consider a half life-size mount. They take up less space than a rug, are more life-like and cost significantly less than a life-size mount. We can also include some habitat as well. It is an especially good option for a bear with a white chest patch that would otherwise be split when rugged, or if your bear has some rub spots on the back half. Here's a pic of a beautiful half that Curt just finished for a client.
Its been quite awhile since my last posting, sorry about that. I had a good excuse this time, I was overseas. I went to New Zealand for a couple weeks to stay with some friends. While I was there I did some hunting and sight seeing. The hunting is pretty good over there, lots of game to be found. I hunted various places and different species. I managed to get a nice red stag and a beauty fallow deer along with some smaller game.
I left Jen in charge here at home to run the shop and all the other things. I got home and nothing died or imploded on itself so she did a great job. She took in a few bears as the season came to a close in most areas. I mounted quite a few animals before I left so they would be drying while I was gone. This week has been spent doing finish work on those animals and the one side of the shop is looking pretty empty. This week coming up will be full of mounting animals to fill the walls up once again....and the cycle continues.
Don't forget to all the Alberta hunters that it is draw time again. Get your applications filled out for those special tags, I think it is going to be a good season this year, mild winter combined with good grass is going to make some good antlers in the country.
Here is a pic of my red stag I got in New Zealand. If you get a chance to do such a hunt, you have to do it.
Hey there, its been a bit again since I posted last but this week there is a bit to show you and talk about. Last weekend the family loaded up and headed to Great Falls, Montana for the annual taxidermy competition. There we competed in the Masters division in Gameheads and Pro in the Lifesize division. I mounted two antelope for the Montana challenge and We placed with a second place ribbon on this mount. These two little speedsters had wicked capes and deserved to on the wall. I wanted to show two antelope communicating and I think this piece shows it. The next time you take an animal that may not have the biggest horns or antlers, think about a different mount where the eye catches the animal in action rather than the size of the rack. Usually these younger critters dont have battle scars yet and the capes are flawless.
In the shop , we have been steady, bear season is upon us and so it has been decent this past week with skinning and receiving. As well I have mounted a few animals and will be doing so this week again to fill up the shop with animals drying for the next few weeks.
Here are the pics of the second place antelope from the competition in Montana.
Does anyone know what season it is? That's right it's Gopher for everyone, and it is officially Show Season for us! Last weekend we had a large display at the Consort Gun & Hobby Show and had a great time visiting with friends and clients. I think someone managed to sneak in a little gun shopping too. Ahem, Curtis... Anyway, we had the whole family running the booth and Q and L had fun telling everyone what the animals were and where they originated. We had a few special mounts from one of our hard-core sheep hunting clients; a double pedestal including a Transcaspian Urial sheep and a Punjab Urial sheep which were both taken in Pakistan, and this beautiful life-sized Marco Polo taken in Tajikistan. Too bad this guy can't stay in our showroom!
The Marco Polo was a lot of work, probably about 60 plus hours into the mount and base, but Show Season isn't over yet. Next week we will be heading to Montana for their state taxidermy competition and Curtis has four competition pieces on the go at the moment, the boys each have an art piece and I'm trying to keep them all motivated, fed, clothed and rested. Although Curtis seems intent on giving up sleep entirely for the next short while at least, lol. Everything for the competition is a bit of a secret, but we will post pictures (and hopefully some ribbons) when we get back.
Hey there again for another week....or so. It looks like spring is finally here and the snow has left and the shed hunters are out and about. I myself have not been out, a past time that used to consume every free minute I had in the spring. Now I am lucky if I get out once a year. I think this year the sheds will be harder to find or not as many of them. Last week I seen three mule deer still carrying so some ground might be getting covered for nothing.
On the shop side, it has been steady with mounting and finish work on the go. This weekend coming up, you will find us at the Consort Gun Show with a display. If your in the area, stop by and say hi. We are going to have some pretty neat things on display so it will be worth your while. Also something new this week, I booked a trip to New Zealand for May where I will be staying with a friend who is a taxidermist there and we will be working in his shop and heading out on the land to hunt in our spare time. It will be a fun trip and stay tuned for up coming news on the trip as it get closer.
I got looking back through some pics and I found these trail cam pics of a grizzly that I got off my camera that I took up to the NWT this past fall when I went up skinning in the hunting camp. The bear would visit the scrap pile across the lake everyday so I put a camera up to see if I could get some pics. Eventually the bear made his way around the lake and got into the meat house a couple of nights in a row and I ended up shooting him. In the NWT you have to skin the bears and turn them into the government. He would have been a nice one to keep.
I wanted to start off this week on a more serious note in regards to animals being mounted and not picked up. With the economic down turn that we are faced with, some animals are being mounted and then not picked up. Now if you are one of those people who is going through a bit of a tough time right now, let us know to put your project aside so we can continue on with others waiting. Now we have had a couple customers call before their projects were started and asked if we could put them on hold, this is very much appreciated. We have no issue with this and understand what some may be going through. Now who this is aimed at, is the ones who say that they are good to go when we ask if a project is still viable for them and they say yes. Then we do the project and call for them to come pick it up but they don't answer the phone or say they can't. I am sorry if this sounds a bit harsh but at the end of the day we too have to pay bills and could have used that time to mount other animals. Again we have no issue setting your project aside and moving on but don't say you are good for it and then won't pick it up. Now if you were good to go at the beginning and then fell on some hard times during the time up to our phone call, just answer the phone and work it out with us, let us know the circumstances and we will work with anyone to help it go over for both parties.
Now onto better things. This past week seen quite a few things getting done including a huge lifesize marco polo sheep, stay tuned for the final pics on this brute. As well, we received a phone call from the tannery that some hides were done, which put us into panic mode for a couple days making room in the freezers for the hides coming back. This meant skinning what had just came in that I did not have time to do earlier. As well , I managed to mount a couple competition pieces for next months competition in Montana, it feels good to do competition work.
Here is an Australian water buffalo that I finished a couple weeks ago for a client. Not quite as big as an African buffalo but big enough. This will be going home soon.
Full time taxidermy sure can make a life busy for us. What a week it has been here at Silver Willow. I left last Thursday morn for Grande Prairie, Peace River then down to Edmonton and Red Deer delivering and picking up animals. I think we delivered 12 and picked up 14 animals on route which made for a hectic 3 days. The big kodiak bear we had in the showroom made its way home to our customer in High Prairie. I was on pins and needles the whole drive there even though it was really secure. I know we pay lots of taxes in this province but I think they are not putting any of it to fixing holes and bumps on our highways. It is funny how you feel every little bump when your hauling precious cargo.
After that was dropped off it was straight towards the Red Deer/Sundre country where seven more animals made it to their new homes and a few more came home here. This is a pic of the big brute I delivered. Thanks again to our clients for their support.
Its been too long since the last blog I know but computer issues have been the main reason. Lots has been going on since the last blog and I will try to cover it all if I can remember. As couple safaris have landed here in the shop, one from New Zealand, one from Africa. The Africa crate contained a croc which was neat to see. Even though it has been dead a year and in the salted state, you can see the power still in the head of this animal and the teeth are super sharp. The New Zealand crate had a unique Red Stag in it, it will provide quite the challenge when it comes to mounting it.
We managed to catch up on some skinning for a week or so, the freezers gained some room. They are slowly filling back up again and it will take another week or so to empty them again. I managed to get some large life size animals mounted and finished this past couple weeks. A couple cougars, wolf and lynx all done up and headed home. Here is a pic of one of the cougars. It was a good sized female with a nice hide and put in a nice pose. Life size cats are fun to mount, this one shows a bit of attitude.
Just a quick update for everyone, we're still here, we have just been having issues with our internet so haven't been able to give an update. Just a quick note, we have some pretty nice animals to post coming up - so please stick with us. Hopefully it will be fixed soon. Sorry no pics this week.
It has been a bit since our last posting, I hope that is because we have been busy. The last couple weeks has been spent doing finish work on many big projects which we will post up at later dates. Some of the pieces include a cougar, grizzly and then some deer heads. The big push was on to finish all the animals for the Provost Fish and Game supper which was held this weekend. We put up a display of our work again this year for people to view. It was a great supper again this year with lots of variety of food to choose from.
We also made a few trips around Alberta picking up and dropping animals off. We made it to Calgary, Cochrane, Sundre, Edmonton and Lloydminster in the past couple weeks. While we were in Calgary we took in the African Hunting Show where we talked to a few outfitters about hunts. It would be lots of fun to go to Africa one day from the things I have been told about from clients and the outfitters we talk to.
Here is one of the animals I delivered in January to Lloydminster. This was done for Weaver Order Buying and is hanging in their front office when you walk in. Tip to tip this steer was five feet. They waited until his hair was prime condition before they brought him into us. I customized the form to a wall pedestal which showed off the nice colors.
So much has gone on this past week and a bit, I am not sure where to start. Since the last post, I have been was getting ready for the Macklin Wildlife Supper. All of it was spent finishing and painting critters for display. What it did do was clean out the work area and filled up the showroom. Now the work area has an echo to it when you walk in. Customers look at the wall when they come in and figure I haven't been up to much. Then they head into the other room and you have to side step between mounts. I always tell them as long as one room is full they have noting to worry about. Its only when the work room and the finish room are both empty at the same time that they should worry about what I have been up to.
Tomorrow is a big day...kind of. I have had this one project in the shop for quite some time and have been moving it around and out of the way until I can dedicate a few days into just finishing it. Well tomorrow come hell or high water, it will be done, stay tuned for it.
But this week, I will show one of the pieces that was finished up last week. I don't post many small critters but I really liked this pine marten. Very nice hide on it and colorful markings.
Happy New Year to everyone, we hope 2016 brings lots of good luck to everybody and we wish them all the best.
We managed to take a couple days off over the New Year break and it was nice to get away for a couple days. Although during those two days we managed to stop at a Taxidermy Supply shop and pick up some forms so in reality it was all holiday time. The shop has been steady still with animals coming in on a regular basis. As well the showroom is filling up which means animals are getting completed and back out to the customers.
As of January 1st, we had a price increase on some of our animals, you will have to go over to the price list to check out which it applies to. Now the price increase is only effective for those animals that come in after January 1st or have previously booked them in so they will fall under 2015 pricing. This is just due to the Canadian dollar difference now and only the animals effected were the ones where we order a majority of those forms from the U.S. We did recognize that with today's economy that a price increase isn't great so that's why we left some of the animals at last years pricing. This means those animals are totally sourced in Canada so we can better regulate those prices.
Here is a neat piece just finished up today. I was given some freedom on this project with a few instructions. I really like doing these type of mounts, a person gets to express and be creative.
Well 2015 has almost come to a close and what a year it has been. We have been blessed with great client support and we couldn't be happier with the generosity and support everyone has shown. This hunting season has been a long one for us in the shop. This year we have been skinning now for four months and have went through a ton of salt...literally, lol. Even though this year started out slow, it was one of our best years for deer in the shop. There were a couple crankers of each species taken even though lots of people were having trouble finding the deer.
With all the skinning going on, mounting and finish work took a back seat but we did manage to get some animals up and out but I hoped we would have got more done. But that goes with the job, skinning must come first on any mount. We would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year from us here at Silver Willow Taxidermy.
Here is the latest critters to leave the shop. A custom built double wall pedestal caribou for a father son duo, I really like the outcome of this mount.
It looks like almost all the hunting seasons are coming to a close here in Alberta with the exception of a couple, cougar and cow elk. We were fortunate enough last week to take in a couple large cats from two lucky hunters, what an experience they had. One client has chosen to do a double lifesize cougar attacking a lifesize mule deer, wow is this going to be a project. The deer season has been over here now for 10 days and we are still seeing a steady flow of animals coming in, I have said it before, we are really blessed.
This week in the shop I am skinning again, but I have however managed to get one huge project mounted and man does it feel good to have that one out of the way. Stay tuned in a few weeks to see what it is, I can give you a hint, it is totally custom and I seem to be doing a few of these since competing with a couple of them, this one has some neat colors.
Take a look at this beauty. This stone ram was taken by a BC resident who put miles upon miles in his boots to successfully take a great sheep. I really like the color of this cape, it goes from real dark to a light face, this was a great sheep to work on.
The 2015 hunting season has come to a close for almost all animals. We have been very blessed this fall with the amount of work that has come through our door and that is still to come.
We would like you all to know, as of Dec 8th we will not be taking in anymore deer until the new year. If you have taken a deer and want to bring it in before then, feel free. Again this is only for a month. During the past three months, many projects have been put on hold or delayed due to skinning and receiving animals and the one month period will help us get the shop re-organized and let us inventory all the hides and get them off to their respective tanneries. We will however accommodate the cougar season that is opening tomorrow. If you have contacted us already in regards to a deer, we will still take it in, just not during the time period previously mentioned. As well our Wednesday late night drop off evening will come to an end on Dec 2nd as deer season has ended. Thank you to all of you who have supported us, your business is very appreciated.
This past week this beauty elk mount went home. This was left up to us with a few small directions and then we went to it. It is something different but pretty cool .
Is everyone enjoying November? We have been blessed with a lot of busy-ness. So far the majority of the skinning marathon has involved elk, moose, mule deer and antelope with a few white-tails starting to trickle in now. The lack of snow is definitely not ideal for hunting, but it feels like a bit of a holiday to us. Last weekend we had the overhead door open in the shop for a couple hours while we worked. Curtis was inside mounting a deer, I was outside skinning heads for euros and the kids were racing each other around the driveway; quad vs. motorbike. All the while, clients were dropping off and picking up heads. I'll take that kind of day, all year long.
Now that hunting season is in full swing, I thought it would be a good time to talk about caring for your trophy. Here's a few of our tips to help prevent damaging your animal's cape before it reaches the taxidermist. It's okay if you don't feel comfortable caping the skin off the head, just leave us lots of cape (never cut in front of the brisket), and bring it in. For best results, try to bring your animal to us as quickly as possible or skin and freeze it immediately. A shop floor is not cold enough to prevent slippage. Another common mistake is leaving a trophy in the back of your pickup after temps drop below zero. Even though it won't rot, there is a risk of hair freezing to the box and then ripping out when it is moved or the facial tissue might be damaged by freeze drying in the open air. We can always send your rack back home with you after it is caped, so you can enjoy it for awhile before it is mounted. Go ahead, make your buddies jealous. Last, but not least, don't drag your animals in the field or anywhere if you want to save the cape. Large animals like moose and elk are difficult to handle, but are very prone to damage from dragging. It's easier to take a little extra time and effort in the field, than it is to find a spare cape that will fit your trophy. We want to make your animal look great and that starts with proper field care.
FYI: During November we are accepting late drop-offs on Wednesday nights (6pm-9pm) for those clients who can't make it in during business hours. Also, we are only accepting shoulder mounts until December 10, 2015 so we can focus on shipping hides to the tanneries and mounting animals for clients that were put on the back burner during the busy skinning season.Then January 1st we will start accepting them again. It just gives everyone a break as well to focus on what work we need to get done before the New Year. The climate outside will be fine for your animal until the New Year. If the weather looks like it will be warm, we may re-consider this and keep accepting them. Thanks.
Enjoy the rest of hunting season and we hope to see you in the shop.
Here's a beautiful mulie from early 2015 that we just sent home.
Today is the beginning of the rifle opener for deer and elk here in our side of the province. I went out for a short little stint to see what was happening in the country side. Lots of hunters and not much game. My prediction for this year is that it will be slower for rut action as the weather is just too nice to get the deer moving far. I had a chance at an antlerless elk this morning but chose not to shoot because I didn't feel too comfortable with the shot.
The shop has stayed busy this past couple weeks, antelope and elk seem to be the animals we have been skinning the most of. This year some of the antelope have been really good which is a nice change to see from the last few years. There have been a few whopper elk come in as well, maybe the deer will be great as well, hopefully we catch the rut in our November season.
Here is a dall sheep I finished up for Vanessa Harrop of Outdoor Quest TV. This is a super wide ram and the cape was very well taken care of which made for an easy nice mount to complete. We have chosen to join the Outdoor Quest group again for this years new shows, working with them has been a pleasure and we look forward to this year as well. Thanks guys.
Sorry it has been a bit since the last post,wish I could say I was gone hunting but we have been just too busy. We can only hope the trend continues for the rest of the fall and hunters are blessed with success in their future adventures.
In the shop, I have been busy skinning but last week there was a break in skinning and I managed to make some good headway mounting up some animals. This week has so far started out doing finish work and then I will get back to mounting some animals. I hope to get a badger, marten and and a few deer done before the weekend ends.
Here is a sneak peak at some of the critters finished up this week.
Good luck to all those who are still out looking for that trophy of a lifetime, give us a call if we can help out in anyway.
Well we are one month down in this new hunting season and so far it has been crazy. I just got back from the NWT where I spent three weeks skinning for an outfitter during the caribou and moose hunts. Lots of people think I was gone having fun, ha. Although it is nice country and beautiful animals...it was all work. As well as skinning animals, I exported more animals that were left at the camp before I got there. In total I brought 39 animals home which made for a full truck. To top that off, I hit the ground running when I got back with more skinning as some lucky hunters were successful during the antelope season and the bow hunters seem to be getting lucky on the elk as well in the area.
This week we are expecting a huge shipment from Africa which will make for a load ready for the tannery so soon into this new hunting season. I really thought before the season that the economy would have an affect this year on business, I guess I was wrong.
Here is a mountain caribou I just finished up for a client since I have been back, caribou are my favorite animals to look at and mount.
I know there are a lot of sheep hunters out there prepping for trips, good luck to all of you! By the time this is posted Curtis should be almost home from sheep country, although he wasn't hunting this time. He did a three week stint skinning at Redstone Trophy Hunts in the NWT.
We were able to talk frequently via Sat phone, which normally would be a good thing, but this time almost every call he had another grizzly bear story. The grizzlies were coming right into the main camp and the guides took to packing their rifles everywhere they went. I'm glad no one got hurt - it was very nerve wracking knowing how bad the bears were. I'm also glad it wasn't like that when I was up there last year.
Unfortunately my sheep from last year hasn't been mounted yet, but here a couple of beautiful Dall's taken from Redstone last season that we sent home a couple weeks ago.
It just seems like hunting season just ended and we are full circle back at it again. Sheep season opened a few days ago with some clients out and about looking for that elusive ram. We have gotten word that the dall sheep camps in the NWT have been successful and sounds like some good rams have been taken.
In the shop this past few weeks it has been all sheep, mounting and finishing them up. This week were gonna be finishing up a couple lifesize dalls and then starting on some deer for a week or a few. Also this past week I traveled to Kalispell to the tannery to pick up some hides and forms and then a quick trip back home.
On Wednesday we made a quick trip to Edmonton to drop off some crates of caribou to the shippers for some American clients then dropped off this life size dall to a client up there. Thanks Jarrod for letting us do your sheep.
Well, we can't say we haven't had any summer weather, can we? The last couple weeks have been very warm here and it seems like we should be at the lake instead of the shop. Enough whining though, we've had our holidays already and we are still managing to fit some fun in among all the work. I took the boys on a freight run to Calgary last Monday and we even managed to stay in a hotel with water slides. It is so nice to be able to bring the kids on business trips. We needed to ship a huge crate to the tannery and pick up a truck load of freight and animals. We always get some strange looks by other drivers on the QE2 when forms are sticking up in the box of the truck. People stare at the back and then do a double take when they pull alongside and see a woman in the drivers seat, lol.
It has been extremely busy in the freight and crating department. We have been building crates and and packaging up several caribou and Dall sheep for some of our American clients. Curtis and I both love the northern critters and hate to see them leave, but fortunately it looks like Curt will be getting the chance to work at Redstone Trophy Hunts in September for a few weeks again. With any luck there will be more sheep and caribou to work on next year.
Here is a pic of a caribou just recently finished up and heading to Idaho, this is one of the nicest capes on a caribou that has been through the shop. We did removable antlers so the client will have ho problem taking it up and down stairs or through doorways, consider this on your next mount.
The count down is on! Only 22 days until the sheep opener here in Alberta, man that has come up fast. By now all of you should have found out what you will be hunting this fall as the draw results are out. I got cow elk and non-trophy sheep which should be fun to hunt. Speaking of sheep, I have been going pretty hard in the shop on sheep mounts, both lifesize and shoulder mounts. All dalls right now but there will be some stone sheep coming up. This week in the shop will be doing finish work and I will be putting a few rugs together too.
Last week I snuck out of the shop for three days and flew out to BC to give my arms a workout tugging on salmon in the Kitimat river. We hit the run right on and three full days of action, wow what a great time. It is a just a great place to go, beautiful scenery and fresh mountain air, I will definitely go back.
Before I left I got this zebra finished up and delivered to a client in Edmonton. This was a very nice zebra with a flawless hide, it went together really nice.
Hey again from the shop, hope some of you have been able to get away on holidays this summer. My family is gone right now holidaying and I am home here plugging away in the shop. It has been pretty steady around here, some animals still coming in and we're trying our best to keep up with the same number going out.
Right now were still working on sheep and starting the early fall/velvet deer. These type of deer have to be my favorite to work on, just lots of detail and beautiful capes. If you think about it, that part of the season is just over a month away!
Also this week we had a very large shipment leave the shop for Manitoba. Nine African pieces in the crate, it's going to be like Christmas for one lucky client. Here is a peak at one of the critters in the crate.
I know everyone is likely enjoying summer right now, but in our house thoughts are already turning to fall. Caribou and Dall sheep are covering every spare inch of wall space of the shop at the moment, almost ready to head for their homes. I can't wait to see this year's batch of horns and antlers. If you have a northern hunt booked for this fall, talk to us, we always welcome new customers and can give some helpful tips on getting your trophies home safely. Starting in August we will also be doing airport pickups for any non-resident customers requiring that service.
If you will be doing a back country or fly-in hunt in August or September the weather can still be very mild, even hot, and it's wise to take extra precautions to protect capes from spoiling. It is extremely important to remove the cape from your animal as quickly as possible and have the proper means and skills to flesh and salt it; remember to turn the ears, and split eyes, lips and nose in order to allow the salt to properly penetrate all areas of the hide. Yes, I hear you, that is the guides job if you are on an outfitted hunt, but it is still a great idea to educate yourself in case of extremely hot weather, an injured or inept guide, or a longer trip out of camp than anticipated. Sometimes that freezer isn't as close as you think. There are some great videos online showing how to properly cape and flesh any animal. Also, pack more salt than you think you will need and it should be fine, white, and non-iodized. You've put a lot of thought into getting there, and possibly money too, so don't let your efforts go to waste. We always encourage our customers to talk to us before their hunt for advice on handling trophies and arranging pick up/drop off times.
Have fun and be safe. We hope to see you at our shop this fall, maybe with a beautiful Dall sheep like this fellow!
I think summer has hit in full force. Usually the end of the hunting draw applications means the start of summer and now combine it with the incredible temps...summer is here. Now just because it is summer and all the hunting seasons are closed, it doesn't mean we slow down. On record the start of summer is a slower time for animals coming in the shop, but this past two weeks has proven that wrong and it will stay busy for a bit. We took in eleven animals this last week and a couple of them are pretty cool. There was a muskox that came that has the most beautiful cape I have seen, nice long hair and nice colors. As well a life size mountain goat, another neat project for down the road.
Besides skinning this past two weeks, I got a few animals mounted up including a cape buff and some other African animals. This next few weeks ahead will be devoted to North American game such as some life sized sheep and caribou, it will be different to get back to those type of animals.
In the past couple weeks I finished up this whopper mule deer for a local client, what a deer! It needed a cape, so we waited til the right one came along and this cape I think was the right one.
For some reason I missed a week, sorry about that, I don't know what happened, might have been skinning more bears, lol. Bear season has shut down in most areas and for the most part we got in just enough bears to keep us busy.
Just a note, after June 20th, we're not going to take anymore bears in just due to our main bear shipment will be gone to the tannery. If you want to bring in a bear after that date, it will go to a closer tannery which has informed us that they are now taking a year to tan bears so be prepared to wait. So our big shipment of bears WILL NOT be going to that tannery so if you have a bear here, don't be alarmed and if you haven't yet, get it to us as soon as you can.
In the shop besides the bears, I have been doing nothing but finish work for the last week and a half. I finished up a nine animals safari for a client in Manitoba, it feels good to get that big job behind me, all the hides were great and everything tuned out well, it was a blessing to work on such quality animals and capes.
Here is a sneak peak at one of the animals from that safari. Thanks Andrew for sending us your safari, we will get this off to you as soon as we can.
Holy man is it hot out. We just took a few days off and went bear hunt with fellow taxidermist Paul Klar from Montana. The heat did have an effect on the bear movements but in the end the weather did cool down on the last day which proved our theory about the movement and Paul was able to get himself a nice bear. A few more calls this week from successful bear hunters bringing rugs in, it won't be long now and the hides will be starting to rub.
This week in the shop I am mounting critters. I need to get some animals up drying on the wall because the next couple weeks is finish work and I have to keep the cycle going. Today I mounted a cranker dall sheep and tomorrow will be a whopper mule deer, there should be some good pics coming up in the next little bit.
Keeping on bears, here is a life size bear I mounted last month. This may be a smaller bear but it had a very nice hide. I also put a slack jaw in the mount and did an eye rotation, just these two little things sure made a difference in the final piece, keep things like this in mind when choosing your next mount.
I have said this before and I will say it again, were truly blessed to have the customers we do, new and old ones. On a daily basis the phone rings with someone wanting to bring us animals or someone with quite the story about a hunt or just to shoot the bull. Some days the shop can be tough to be in as there are a hundred things to keep on my mind and it seems at the end of the day, none of it got done! But it does get done and when I have a moment to sit back and look at my career, it is not that bad of a job to do.
Anyways now the emotional stuff is over, lol, here is what's happening. Bears still coming in at just the right pace. Some more on deck waiting to get here but hopefully they hold off a couple weeks. We just went to the tanneries last week in Edmonton and picked up a whole vehicle load of deer and caribou capes and the freezers are full with 50lb bags of plaster on the lids to keep them shut. At these times it seems overwhelming but also blessed that we have work ahead of us.
Speaking of bears coming in, Clint Taylor sent us a note saying he is bringing in one that he just took on the weekend. Clint has been a client of ours here for a year or so now and has brought us in some neat animals to work on from his adventures abroad. Here is a muskox that Clint took in Cambridge Bay last spring with Archery gear. Thanks Clint for choosing us to look after your animals.
How is everyone's bear season going? The bears are trickling in the shop at a steady pace, kind of the pace I like, just enough time in between each one for skinning. So far the bears have been looking good as far as hides go, they should make some nice mounts. We have a fellow taxidermist coming up from Montana next week and were headed up to our usual spot to see if we can get him a bear. The good thing is, he can skin his own bear, ha!
The shop has been steady, I finished sewing up an African safari for one client and all of his animals are now up drying. Just got word that all our deer capes are done at the tannery, so Friday I will be picking them up. If you have a deer here this year with us, please make sure your deposits are in so we can get a start on your project, give myself or Jen a shout to line that up. I was just looking in the books and we seem to be making some ground which is a good thing, we're always trying to improve on our turn around time and right now its looking good.
This is a neat mount, we were given almost full reign on this project, they needed to be together. This had some challenges, but I think in the end it came out good. Thanks Chris for letting me have some creativity with this.
What a week it has been, I started a ten animal African safari for one client and decided right off the start to do the biggest job....a cape buffalo. Now if these don't fit right or you have a bad tan or anything, man it can be a very tough job. Well with some luck and good pre-fitting, this buf went together like nothing.
I also tackled an eland a couple days before and now every other job after that has seemed simple...I think I may keep this train of thought for more up-coming safaris! With two big animals like that mounted up in the shop along with all the others I did this week, room is running out, lol. Another good thing with this safari is that the skinners in Africa did a good job so far and the prep work has been minimal.
On another note, I skinned a couple bears this week and we just received number three yesterday for the year so it has been a good start, for April, May is a long month and I see more on the horizon. If you are not sure of proper care for your bears once they are down, feel free to give me a shout and I can help you out with some do's and don'ts' for keeping your bear hide from spoilage.
Speaking of bears, here is a bear I finished up last week, kind of a neat pose, good luck to all who are out sitting and waiting for that big bruin to come in.
We're back! Well we have been back in the shop for a few days now. We took the Easter break off and the family traveled to Hawaii for a much needed rest. I am not sure how much of a rest it was, I skinned some animals over there, lol. I actually went hunting for myself and went with Nahele Outfitters and went for spanish goats and vancouver bulls with archery equipment. I can honestly tell you, it was one of the best hunts I have been on. To some, when they look at the pics, they look like barnyard animals and yes they do, but.... they are really wild and the bulls are very dangerous, which adds an element of fun to the hunt as well.
Now that were back in the shop, we're busy getting ready for the Consort gun show this weekend. We have booked more tables than usual so it is going to be a big display. If you're near Consort this weekend, stop by and say hi.
Here are a couple pics from my hunt in Hawaii, if you haven't been there before, you should try it, tons of fun.
Happy Easter to all our clients and a very big thank you for helping us do what we love for a career. We hope all of you have a safe and happy Easter.
Onto business now, lol, the shop has been going full out in March and we ended the month getting almost all the animals we wanted mounted for the month sewn up. One thing that prevented us from accomplishing that goal was the amount of skinning I did. I skinned out four wolves, three lynx, three wolverines and a couple cattle which were massive projects. We sure kept the salt companies happy in March.
Due to the Easter break this up coming week, we wont be posting a blog, watch for it soon after, we hope to have some good photos for you to look at.
March was also spent doing some finish work and here is one of the little creatures I did. This is a nice little female wolverine with an awesome hide on it that the customer wanted in an aggressive pose, I think she may look like that.
We want to again thank our customers for helping and supporting us, it is very much appreciated. Happy Easter!
We thought winter was gone around here but it looks like a few more days of snow, oh well, were inside mostly anyway working.
Wow, what a couple busy weeks it has been, we're really blessed to have a business and customers who keep us going day to day. Last week we took in thirteen animals and a couple monster projects. They were not much fun to get ready for tanning but now the dirty work is done and planning time has come. One customer has chosen to have three life-sized wolves on one base, what a project that will be. As well I skinned a monster 10yr old hereford bull and as luck would have it, a new bull form came out on the market and will work just fine.
I just got home from another epic U.S. run to the tannery and form trip. You know you got a heavy load of hides when the truck is working hard pulling the trailer. I emptied the trailer in Kalispell of hides and then made a run back to the border where I loaded it full to the lid with forms only to make the truck work hard again.
Before I left the shop I managed to get this delivered. It is an African bushpig that was harvested by Trent Ussleman with Archery gear. It was a challenging and fun project and was the last one in the safari I did for Trent. Thanks Trent for letting me do up your animals.
Wow what a difference a week makes in the weather, geese are back and the water is running everywhere. I have seen some guys have been out shed hunting, I am not sure how much success there will be after what we seen for low deer numbers in the fall. I have seen however a couple coyote kills on deer and man have there ever been lots of them running around. I shot five in a week and a half from the house and hate to admit I missed four more. We took plenty of coyotes out of the countryside this winter but apparently it wasn't enough. Speaking of low deer numbers, there is a meeting at the Metiskow hall on March 19th with the SRD in regards to deer numbers. I sure hope they don't want to decrease the herd more. If you have a chance, make it out and let your voice be heard.
In the shop this past week I have been busy skinning and getting more hides ready for the tannery and making freezer room for more coming in. I also have been doing some finish work for delivery this week to Edmonton on Friday. It is supposed to be slower right now, but we're flat out trying to stay on top of all the daily things it takes to run a taxidermy shop.
Here is a zebra I finished up last week for my brother. He actually did most of the work on it with a hand from me. He did a good job on the base which really went along with the mount. Thanks again.