LIMA — With deer gun season getting underway Monday through Dec. 17, the workload of taxidermist Jim McNamara picks up some.
“Fall is your busiest time because your main hunting seasons are in the fall,” McNamara said. “In May, we get kind of busy too because of turkey season but nothing like the fall.”
McNamara said he’s been doing taxidermy for about 42 years. He started doing it as a hobby because he took some stuff to one of the few taxidermist around at the time but it was never completed. He got his stuff back and mounted it himself, he said.
“The first stuff I mounted was on a kitchen table,” he said.
As he started to mount more trophies, friends of his began asking if he would mount stuff for them. he said. After a while of approaching it as a hobby and doing jobs for fishing and hunting buddies McNamara said he decided to do taxidermy professionally.
“The most important part of taxidermy for me is getting to meet the clients and giving them what they want,” he said. “If someone new calls me I want to get to know them.”
There’s a story behind every animal that is brought to him to mount, he said. That’s why it’s so important to him to make connections with his client and why he strives for perfection in every trophy he mounts.
“Probably a third of my clients are dads whose kid killed his or her first deer,” McNamara said. “The dads are usually more excited than the kids.”
Jason Osting, of Leipsic, is one of those hunters who gets his kills mounted to relive the memories of the hunts. Osting is a hunting consultant and organizes bow hunting experiences throughout North America, he said. He has also hunted 20 of the 29 big game animals on the continent; including caribou, different species of bear, elk, moose and deer.
“It shows respect for the animal,” Osting said of mounting trophies. “It also brings back memories of the experience.”
A lot of young hunters will mount the first buck they kill so they can remember the experience of their first harvest, he said. People who go on hunting trips to the Yukon and other isolated regions in North America ship back trophies for mounting for the same reasons young hunters do.
“When you’re up in northern Canada and take a caribou, sheep or goat, there’s a good chance you’ll never be back there again,” Osting said.
There’s also an educational quality to mounting hunting trophies too, he said.
“There are a lot of people in the area who have never seen a brown bear or moose,” he said. “To bring one home and show them how big and incredible they are is important.”
The Leipsic Fishing and Hunting Association, 10605 county Road H, uses the dozens of mounted animals, skins and rugs for educational nature events, member Rodney Diener said.
“We have more than deer,” he said. “We have fish and animals from all over the country.”
The association’s clubhouse has the usual collection of mounted deer, elk and geese but members, and sometimes their families, have donated more exotic animal trophies. Randy Nienberg, of Kalida, has the trophy of an alligator he killed in Florida hanging on one of the walls. There’s also a mounted Capybara, a large rodent from Argentina, on one of the walls.
During the educational events children handle furs of animals to experience what they feel like and about the animals mounted around the clubhouse.
“The children are fascinated by the geese hanging from the ceiling like they’re flying,” Diener said.
McNamara said a taxidermist can create anything from mounted antlers to full body, intricate displays depending on what the client wants and how much they can afford. It takes awhile to do the work, though. The skin is put into a freezer and remains there until he starts the project.
“My turnaround time is about eight to 11 months from the time they pay the deposit to when I call and tell them their project is done,” he said.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362