From his workshop in Thomasville, Georgia, Taxidermist Edward Harden has been stuffing every part from mourning doves to elephants for over 40 years. He acquired his begin by sending away for a mail-order Northwestern College of Taxidermy course at age 12. At 15 he took his first paying buyer. After that, Harden went to school for biology and opened the doorways at his 128 East Jackson Road store in 1980. At the moment, he’s a grasp at his craft.
Harden takes on a whole bunch of shoulder mounts, fish mounts, and full-body mounts yearly, and his clients wait in line for as much as three years for fowl mounts. However what’s most spectacular about Harden’s Taxidermy is how he and his staff have turned their storefront right into a vacation spot. The store is sort of a tiny, one-room Museum of Pure Historical past. Out entrance, a full-body bull elk welcomes you on the door. As soon as inside, you’ll see largemouth bass swimming on the wall, ocellated turkeys strutting on the ground, and baboons sitting atop glass show circumstances stuffed with sport and curiosities from the wild.
Final fall, we visited Harden’s store for a day to see how his small crew of craftspeople breathe life again into critters huge and small. As a bonus, Harden additionally took us to one among his buyer’s showrooms the place he’s labored for years to create a one-of-a-kind show of African, European, and American sport. Right here’s a number of the better of what we discovered.
Edward Harden brushes an African civet mount behind the counter in his Thomasville showroom. Although his store is small, it doesn’t cease him from displaying formidable mounts just like the full-body piebald deer (left) and African lion (middle).
Taxidermist Dallas Burns works on the entire whitetail deer mounts at Harden’s. Right here he’s getting ready a cape for a whitetail buck shoulder mount whereas one other whitetail buck waits to have its antlers placed on.
A wall of whitetail bucks awaiting buyer pickup. Harden says that over the previous two years, the quantity of whitetail shoulder mounts he makes yearly has doubled.
A group of shoulder-mount varieties sits on a pegboard wall within the again room at Harden’s. Pre-made varieties are made of froth. They’re designed to sit down beneath the pores and skin of a mount to offer assist and form. Every kind has an area minimize out within the prime of the pinnacle for a deer’s antlers.
Every of Harden’s workers takes on a selected job at his store, and Harden handles the fish mounts. Right here he’s setting the eyes and dealing on the ultimate particulars of a largemouth bass.
A wall of completed fish mounts in Harden’s showroom ready for buyer pick-up. Harden makes use of an older method that includes forged plaster to pose the stretched fish pores and skin. He then paints them to look extra lifelike.
Taxidermist Greg Owens works on rattlesnake belts. Harden’s store is understood for snake-skin belts and leather-based items, which they ship everywhere in the nation.
These rows of prepped snake skins can be used for making belts and leather-based items.
Harden stretches out a bear rug in his workshop. Together with full-body and shoulder mounts, Harden’s affords conceal tanning to make rugs and throws.
Together with fish, Harden makes a speciality of fowl mounts like this dove. Due to their small dimension and very skinny pores and skin, doves are probably the most tough animals to work on.
A glass show counter of ocellated turkey mounts. Harden spends as much as 5 hours “grooming” a turkey mount earlier than it’s completed. The method consists of adjusting each feather on the fowl’s physique to its right place with a pair of tweezers.
This zebra and lion mount is a part of a personal assortment at a buyer’s house. Capturing the expressions on each animals’ faces for a mount like that is extremely tough. One improper transfer and an animal can look overstyled or cartoonish.
Harden stands between the entrance legs of a giraffe he mounted in one other view of his buyer’s non-public assortment. One of many items he’s most pleased with is the alligator coming by means of the espresso desk within the foreground.
An instance of a few of Harden’s finest work, this crocodile taking a chew out of a python appears to defy gravity.
One other view of Harden’s buyer’s showroom. Full-sized bear mounts are one of many tougher duties for a taxidermist. Harden additionally spends hours constructing and sculpting the natural-looking bases the animals are standing on.
Harden positioned this tahr mount to look as if it’s climbing down a rocky slope. For taxidermy like this, Harden must create a kind almost from scratch.