Taxidermy is the skill of preparing, stuffing and mounting the skins of animals so that they look like they did when they were alive.
The earliest methods of taxidermy began in 1748. By the 20th century, taxidermists evolved to developing anatomically accurate figures with mounts in realistic settings and poses.
Jamie Allen, of Louisa, is a certified and licensed taxidermist who has been practicing the art for 18 years. He is the owner and operator of Timberline Taxidermy.
Allen got involved with taxidermy through his love and passion for hunting. He has many hunts mounted in natural lifelike poses.
“It’s a display of what you love to do,” Allen said. “Every time you look up there at that deer you remember everything about it.”
Deer and fish are his favorite subjects to work with, though he also works with other items such as birds, ducks, foxes, bobcats and bears.
According to Allen, the process actually starts in the field when a hunter kills an animal or catches a fish. The care needs to start right there and the hunter or fisher needs to cool the item rather quickly or take the carcass to a taxidermist as soon as possible.
Once an animal is killed, bacteria starts to build and will cause hair loss in the mounts. It is one reason why it is so important to get them cooled so quickly.
Allen uses a five-step process. When someone brings Allen a deer, he has to remove the rack, skin it out and place the hide into the freezer. Later, when it comes out of the freezer, the hide goes into an acid tan for several days.
To read the entire story, see the Sept. 19 edition of The Central Virginian.