Taxidermist Angela Wilson started her business in 1998. Called Wild Intrigue Taxidermy, Wilson’s Gregory, S.D., shop managed about 200 deer, 150 pheasants, and 300 “others” this year. Although she says most of her business is in deer, pheasants and turkeys, she points out, “We do most anything that comes along.” At crunch time, Wilson sometimes enlists her sister Lisa to “bail me out” (that’s Lisa on the left and Wilson on the right).
Wilson made some time to talk to the blog about cape care, the challenges of the trade, and what she likes best about her job. -K.H.
FSHuntress: How did you first get into taxidermy?
Angela Wilson: I started in taxidermy when I was 16. I started dating a guy that was in the business and became interested in it. I just did finish work until I graduated from high school. I had no interest in college, so I worked at a gas station while I continued to learn taxidermy. I eventually got married and then did taxidermy full time. After five years, we divorced and I went back to working at a gas station. Two years after that, I started a taxidermy business of my own.
FS: What are some of the best things hunters can do to take care of their hides? And the worst things?
AW: The most important thing you can do to make sure you have a good mount is to cool it down. If you use ice to do this be careful not to get the animal wet. If you freeze the animal, make sure that it is wrapped well. A garbage bag works well. Fish should be wrapped in a wet towel first, and then in a bag, and frozen.
The worst thing you can do is leave it in the sun or any warm area. The sooner you can cool it down, the better quality mount you will get.
FS: What’s the most challenging mount you’ve ever done?
AW: Buffalo were the most challenging. I don’t take them anymore. They are a little too big for me to handle, and I am busy enough without them.
FS: What do you think most hunters don’t realize or maybe don’t appreciate about the work a taxidermist does?
AW: A lot of people don’t realize the difference in quality of mounts. This is something that I find frustrating and amusing at the same time. It’s really neat when you come across someone that sees and appreciates it.
FS: Anything else you think our readers would like to know?
AW: I do really enjoy my business and my customers. I used to hunt a lot, but now my time is pretty limited. I enjoy listening to the hunting stories (and they ALL have them), and I really appreciate their excitement over a good hunt.
My favorite season is turkey season. The majority of the hunters are archery hunters. We make hen decoys, and during the season the guys will come in with ideas. I spend a lot of days trying to change a decoy around for that night’s hunt. I really enjoy the feedback I get from them.