Damuth Taxidermy celebrates 20th year

Drive around the square in Brady and you are bound to notice the large picture windows filled with a wide variety of stuffed animals. Simply standing close by and observing travelers as they pass, one can obviously tell that there is something about the Damuth Taxidermy displays that catches the attention of thousands of people each day. Celebrating their 20th year in business in McCulloch County, Gary and Diane Damuth can almost always be found in the back of their shop taking care of any number of details needed to complete another mount. From mallards to musk ox, the local taxidermists have almost seen it all. With deer season beginning this weekend for archery hunters and gun season only a month away, the Damuths are gearing up for their biggest time of the year. Over the next three to four months, they hope to take in some 500-600 white-tailed deer brought in by hunters from every region of the United States. “The majority of our business comes from people from out of town who come to the area to hunt,” said Damuth. “We have shipped mounts to places as far away as New York, California and even Alaska.” What began as a hobby and a potential source of income for Gary has evolved into a thriving business that keeps a handful of employees busy 365 days a year. From skinners to detail artists, a variety of skill and knowledge is needed to produce quality, realistic mounts. “We hope to continue to grow to where we can employ six full-time taxidermists,” said Damuth. “Right now we have two, other than myself, and we have been doing some scouting for a third.” After starting their business out of their home 20 years ago, the Damuths reached a point at which a larger facility was needed. In 1990, they purchased the building on the southwest corner of the square and moved into what seemed at the time to be more building space then they could ever fill. “We got to the point where we had something in every room in our house, except the bathroom,” Damuth said. “I knew we needed to do something when a friend who was visiting got a scare from a bobcat mount that was cooling in our refrigerator.” Since moving to the old building on the square, the Damuths have steadily renovated and upgraded the building. A seemingly endless amount of construction has steadily gone on for several years to accommodate the continuing growth. Areas that were at one time strictly used for storage are now being transformed into additional space for the studio. A backlog created during the winter hunting season takes up substantial space as each individual rack waits its turn to be transformed into a life-like replica. “Roughly one-third of our business is white-tailed deer,” said Damuth. “We take in all of the deer during the winter hunting season which makes it a challenge to spread out the business over an entire year.” The actual process of taking one animal and producing a taxidermist mount of that animal is a long process. From skinning the hide to painting the finishing touches, each mount is a work of art. “Most of the training we have received is a lot of trial and error and a whole lot of praying,” said Damuth. “I learned the basics from some books and a few classes, but the majority comes from hands-on experience.” Over the years, the Damuths have gathered clients that serve as repeat customers based upon the quality and service they receive. One such client has recently sent the Brady taxidermists trophies taken on an African safari. Over the next several months, animals ranging from a 13-foot crocodile to a hippopotamus will be re-created by the hands of the local taxidermists. As the weather changes from summer to fall and the flurry of outdoors activity grows, business at this local taxidermist shop will keep pace with the hunters as they bring in their McCulloch County trophies to have them preserved for a lifetime.

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