Talkin' Outdoors

I first met Steve German 20-odd years ago down in his home territory of Calcasieu Parish when he joined me and longtime friend, Sammie Faulk, in a series of excursions in that part of the world.

We duck hunted, caught speckled trout and his son, Josh and I even did a little jump shooting of rails and gallinules. After our hunting and fishing ended, I visited German’s small taxidermist shop in Westlake.

While attending the annual conference of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association in Lake Charles last week, Faulk gave me a nudge at one of the breaks in the program and said, “Come with me; I want to show you something.”

We drove around the corner from the hotel to German’s shop. I was floored when we entered. It’s no longer just a taxidermist shop; it’s a wildlife museum. One room is designated for doing his taxidermist work but to step into an adjoining room was to be transported to Africa and just about every corner of the US.

“I have made several trips to Africa on safari and have collected quite a few animals that I’ve mounted and added to my museum,” he said. That’s an understatement because literally hundreds of mounts adorn the walls and floor of this room. Quite frankly, I was blown away by this magnificent display of everything from a giraffe to a zebra.

German and his son, Josh, run this dynamic organization that is appropriately named “Steve German’s Taxidermy Art”.

While visiting with German, I picked his brain a bit about what hunters need to do to get ready for upcoming hunting seasons, especially if someone bags a trophy buck and wants it properly prepared for a trip to the taxidermist.

“We had to replace 28 capes last year because hunters didn’t skin their deer correctly. We can fix a lot of things but can’t fix a short cape.

“The first thing you should do is hang your deer by the hind legs and the first cut you make is to cut a ring around the center of the animal; this gives us plenty of cape to work with,” German said.

“After the cut around the body, the cape should be sock skinned down to the legs, ring the legs at the first joint then skin down to the ring and pull the legs through.”

What about some hunters who have a tendency to have their trophy in the back of a pickup and drive around half a day showing it to friends and family?

“We get a lot of stuff from west Texas where they’ve driven nine hours in 100 degree heat with the hide and head in a plastic bag. The worse thing you can do,” German continued, “is to put it in a plastic bag. They sit there in their own juices and blood being a protein breaks down real fast and the thing starts to rot. The best thing to do is get a grass sack or cheese cloth to contain the head and hide.”

A popular wild game species hunters like to get mounted is waterfowl. German had some suggestions about how to handle ducks and geese.

“Always take a plastic bag with you if you’re looking for a duck to mount. When you shoot a duck you want to have mounted, pick it up by the foot, shake it out real good and put the bill under a wing, place it in a plastic bag and force all the air out. If you can’t get it to me immediately, place it carefully in your freezer until you bring it in,” he added.

With hunting seasons underway, hopefully the advice by this professional will mean that the trophy you collect will render a final product you can be proud of.