By Jim Linderman
I am not sure why taxidermists so often freeze their subjects in fight rather than flight. It makes for dramatic presentation, but most animals I have come across in my life have been either running or skulking away with no challenge at all. I even came upon a mother bear and her cubs once, and while it was my hiking date and I who did the running, I don’t recall even a nasty look from mom. She was just lumbering along the top of a ridge with the pups. If I had shot her and turned her over to the taxidermist, she would come back to me in full grimace with extended claws. Animals are benign unless they have reason not to be, and seldom are they aware a bullet is about to strike them down. Actually, they have no concept of death or bullet, but still, hunters have a decided advantage… that of stealth coupled with weapon technology. Given the unfortunate nature of many in our species, it is a wonder there are any animals left at all.
For the record, should you ever be confronted by a mother bear, just run downhill. You can run downhill faster than a bear can. They prefer to run uphill… it has to do with the length of their legs, I guess.
Taxidermy does make for an incongruous snapshot. Here are Kitty, Rover and Little Betty. God’s creatures frozen by embalming fluid, the camera shutter and a command to smile respectively.
Our taxidermist uses a common photography trick I use as well. Putting a white sheet backdrop behind the subjects for contrast. In my case, it is seldom to hide anything from the neighbors. I don’t have a posing rock pedestal either, though that boulder may be as fake as the smile on Betty.
These photos all came from the same fellow, and I am pleased to see he was deep into his hobby enough to have visited a museum of same. Unless that is his “man cave” and if so, he is a bigger creep than I thought. If it sounds like I am being critical, I’m not. If someone wants to mount a trophy, or even refer to a living creature now dead as a trophy, it isn’t my thing, but I am tolerant and secure enough in my own beliefs so as not to force them on others. Usually.
More animals are killed each year by mechanical weapons in hand than the human hand… though this is an assumption I make without verification. There are a lot of wars going on, be they declared or not, and you see few humans killed by trap, thrown rocks or spears these days. That was the preferred method of eliminating both animal and human until fairly recently in our world.
Let’s see if there are any interesting taxidermy facts online. WHOA. For one thing, I’m clearly living in hunting territory here, as the first ten hits I retrieve are for guys in my county who will mount a kill for you. The Google search protocols are effective, but my query is of a intellectual nature, and I do not have anything in the trunk needing gutting.
Taxidermy started with Egyptian mummies. Fish are harder to do than mammals. Freeze-drying is becoming taxidermy of choice. The technique of creating jackanapes and such (those fake Frankenstein creatures as a joke for postcards and carnival midways) is called “Rogue taxidermy” and is sneered upon by true taxidermists… but of course that is the folks I will link to. If you do need someone to mount a trophy, just search for one.
NOTES: Anonymous snapshots collection Jim Linderman. The Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists is HERE.
Jim Linderman is a Grammy-nominated collector, popular culture historian and author. His network of blogs is approaching 4 million page views, and his VINTAGE SLEAZE BLOG which tells a true story from the golden age of smut every day has over 300,000 Facebook followers. For several years he has been working on TIMES SQUARE SMUT which will tell the story of several long forgotten writers, illustrators and mob-connected publishers from the 1950s who ultimately influenced contemporary culture.