SALTILLO, Miss. (WCBI) – Some might call it unusual, others say it’s a way to give animals a new life, or showcase a big hunt. Either way, taxidermy is a skill and an art.
Andy Stanford knew at a young age he wanted to become a taxidermist.
“I’ve always been into hunting, fishing and trapping, since I was a kid. My industrial arts teacher, Eddie Medlock, got me into it in about the sixth grade. The first thing I ever mounted was a duck and I just started going from there, trying and practicing. It’s grown from there,” said Stanford.
Now Stanford Taxidermy has been in business in Saltillo for 27 years.
From zebras and bears, to mountain lions and deer, animals from all over the world make their way to Mississippi at Stanford Taxidermy.
“We get stuff from New Zealand, Africa and Spain. Right now we have a giraffe we have to mount. We just got through with some leopards and lions. You name it, we get it,” Stanford said.
Stanford’s shop is USDA certified so hunters going out of the country can conveniently send their animals straight to him. An inspection comes with every shipment.
“An inspector has to come in and watch us uncrate the animal, watch us boil the skulls and treat the skins in case there’s any kind of disease or bugs from out of the country,” Stanford said.
The detailed process can take 8 to 10 months. The animals first arrive salted.
“Once you kill the animal in another country, they’re salted and dried hard. They come in stiff and we send them to the tannery where they re-hydrate them. Once you skin it out, you wash it, then it goes through an acid picker, which is the tanning process, and then it’s combed out, shampooed and clean. Then it comes back as a workable mount like the zebra we’re working on now,” said Stanford.
Stanford has seen his fair share of animals inside the shop.
“The craziest thing I’ve worked on was a 168 pound Irish Wolfhound. It was a house pet. We’ve done two house pets, but we get a lot of calls on them,” Stanford said.
The taxidermy work takes skill and experience. The goal is to make the animal look as real and natural as possible.
“We try to create the wow factor in it. A lot of women hunt now, but when the wives come in with their husbands, they’re expecting just an average mount, when they see it and they like it, you know you’ve done something right,” Stanford said.
Stanford says next they’ll start working on a giraffe. Stanford Taxidermy can also can set up showrooms and displays for you. For more information call (662)791-9509 or visit www.stanfordtaxidermy.net