Taxidermists Bring The Spoils Of Hunting Season Back To ‘Life’

Listen Now
An elk gets a taxidermy face lift.

Enter any ski lodge, rustic hotel, mountain mansion or sporting goods store in Colorado, and you are likely to be stared at by mounted hunting trophies. Taxidermists are the ones who specialize in taking these carcasses and bringing them back to life ... so to speak. And this is their crunch time -- the busy season for all the cutting and scraping and draping and molding and painting to add new trophies to these collections.

Taxidermy is an ancient art that has evolved from stuffing dead animals with rag and wire to create a decorative item that looked stiff, and, well, still dead as a doorknob. Now it is a competitive art form where taxidermists have thousands of parts and pieces and specialized tools at their disposal to make dead animals look just like they did in their natural habitat. It is still a somewhat gristly business, and one that is obviously distasteful to vegetarians and opponents of hunting. But the West is riddled with taxidermied trophies, and taxidermists are hard at work to meet the demand.

taxidermy two
Taxidermist Darryl Powell with one of the hunting trophies he has preserved.

Darryl Powell of Darryl's Taxidermy in Grand Junction has been bringing hunting trophies back to life for more than 30 years. He joins Andrea Dukakis of Colorado Matters to explain how it happens.