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Weatherbee’s Taxidermy Busier Than Ever

Take a tour of this Stony Fork-based taxidermist

 

by Melissa Bravo - February 2, 2015

Anyone driving through Stony Fork can honestly say that Dana Wetherbee’s Taxidermy studio is the second busiest store in town. Dana, whose family has been in Delmar Township since the 1800’s, has been working in taxidermy for 27 years. Located on the corner of the Stony Fork Road and North Lawton Road in the village of Stony Fork, the studio is a buzz of activity and laughter this time of year. The first thing you see upon entering his studio is the showroom full of life sized mounts of black bears (Ursus americanus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), bobcats (Lynx rufus) and numerous shoulder mounts, neck mounts, and European mounts of antlered deer found in the United States in the Cervidae family. In the back of the showroom is Dana’s workshop where you are apt to hear his familiar laugh, as he shares a yarn with a local or two, while he goes about the business of mounting this year’s hunting trophies.

To have your buck successfully mounted requires careful attention to detail on the hunter’s part, so that hide (also referred to as the cape) and the head with the horns attached, comes into the shop in good condition. This means keeping the hide from getting wet and preventing any undue exposure to the sun or fluctuating temperatures. To preserve the integrity of the skin for small game, fish, and other critters, Dana recommends hunters bring them in frozen or as fresh as possible and intact (do not gut them). Once Dana has the cape in his hands he will take a series of measurements to determine the dimensions of the mounting form. Mounting forms, such as this shoulder mount shown here for a white-tailed deer, are made of polyurethane and are sculpted to create muscling and character. Dana will further sculpt the form to conform to the deer hide being mounted, creating a signature piece of work for each of his customers. Before he glues the hide to the form he will process the hide in a series of steps referred to as the tanning process, which begins by removing all of the flesh from the hide with a well-honed fleshing knife, or with a machine that has a spinning rotary disc (sharpened along one edge) called a fleshing machine. Afterwards, the hide is soaked and salted down; and put through the pickling, neutralizing, and degreasing process. When the cape is ready for mounting it is pulled over the nose of the form and manipulated into place. After the eyes and horns are added the mount needs to sit for several weeks to dry.

Dana processes about 60 white-tailed deer and 30 black bears a year along with smaller game and fish. If you would like to stop by the studio for a tour give him a call: (570) 724-3465.

Credits:

Writing: Melissa Bravo

 

Produced by Vogt Media

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