I can honestly say that never in my wildest dreams would I ever think I would be at a convention for taxidermy. Not until I was looking at The Wichita Eagle at saw that the Kansas Association of Taxidermist were holding their annual convention in downtown Wichita at the Drury-Broadview Hotel. I figured... it's cheap fun, and I'm sure there will be some interesting characters there. Which there were plenty. The really interesting ones were seemed to be stuffed and sitting on mounts.
Let me say that walking in a room with people standing around looking at stuffed animals is a bit weird. What was even weirder was that a tiger was standing at the front door leading into the convention. All I kept thinking was... Aren't tigers endangered? I took a few more steps into the room, and when I the eyes moved toward me they could obviously see I was there just for fun with no passion for taxidermy. I didn't see too many people there. Only about 50-60 at any given time, but quite frankly that was 40-50 more people than I thought I would see at all.
Something that was really bugging me was a lot of these animals were killed, skinned, stuffed and then mounted in a position to look like they would in the wild. If that is the point then.... why not just look at them in the wild? Some even had plants and twigs on the mounted to make it look like they were in there habitat.
I was surprised to find out that taxidermy isn't just birds and mammals. I actually saw a taxidermy crawfish. That is right... A Crawfish!? I also saw fish and even a gardner snake.
As strange as this sounds, I did have a favorite stuffed animal that I saw. I was looking at first at a huge deer head when I turn around and looked down. I saw a stuffed raccoon laying on its back in plush green grass holding an apple with one paw. Not only did it look hilarious but totally not natural. I started thinking that when I die I would love to be stuffed to look like I am relaxing on my back eating an apple.
While I was looking around judges were going by each booth and inspecting each presentation. Looking at the craftsmanship of the stuffed animal all over. At every booth they would shine a flash light into the glass eyes of the animal or check for cloudiness. Look for seems and overall mount stupidness. They also wanted the animal to look natural as possible. But lets face it. It is hard to make something dead look alive and natural.
But of course, my day could not be complete without seeing mans best friend. All the way in the back I saw two people looking down at something and petting it. For a split second I forgot where I was and thought it was a real dog. It was then I figured out it was stuffed and the people were petting a stuffed dog like it was alive. Creepy.