Students learn taxidermy in art class at PHS


Matthew Hobbs

Pictured above is a taxidermied porcupine done by sophomore Matthew Hobbs.

Taxidermy is not an option provided at most schools. However, Powell High School gives students the opportunity to be involved in the taxidermy process.

Some students have been interested and involved in taxidermy before entering the program here at PHS. On the other hand, there are other students who never even thought about taxidermy until entering the Powell High School art program.

“I’ve been interested in taxidermy for a long time,” sophomore Megan Cotter said. “When my parents would take me to sporting good stores, I would just wander around admiring the animals. I didn’t really understand the concept of how it actually worked, but I loved looking at any mount.

I never imagined myself behind the scenes of taxidermy until I was a freshman and took Mr. Gilman’s class. He’s a great educator and I wouldn’t be where I am now without him. I love taxidermy so much now, that I actually plan on pursuing it as a career.”

Added sophomore Ashton Brewer: “I always wanted to taxidermy and have been interested in it since middle school. I didn’t actually start doing mounts until being introduced to the art program here. It was easier to access materials.”

Some students, like Cotter and Brewer, have been interested in taxidermy for a while. Other students have had no association with taxidermy until they got involved with the provided program at school.

“I had no relation to taxidermy before PHS, and my first year I started was my freshman year,” sophomore Matthew Hobbs said.

Students often times bring in their own animals for individual projects, but sometimes the animals are provided by organizations or other people.

“We bring our own animals most of the time for individual projects, but our art teacher [Mr. James Gilman] provides animals and forms for new students that want to try out doing their own taxidermy such as pheasants, ducks, foxes, coyotes and raccoons,” Cotter said.

I always wanted to taxidermy and have been interested in it since middle school. I didn’t actually start doing mounts until being introduced to the art program here.”

— Megan Cotter

Some projects are even brought to the school specifically to be taxidermied by the students.

“I did my own deer, fox and pheasant. But we currently did a guy’s bear for him,” Brewer said.

Some projects are also provided by other organizations.

“There’s been several times where Wyoming Game and Fish donates animals to us, including: a bear, a wolf and a mountain lion,” Cotter said. “Our Art Guild also provides for all of our projects. It’s basically where donations can go so we can keep doing what we’re doing.”

Taxidermy has advantages the students enjoy, and those words often are internal.

“When you are done with the project the feeling of accomplishment is the greatest part for sure,” Hobbs said .”All that work is over and now you have something to just admire.”

“It’s a satisfying and fulfilling experience. I love bringing animals back to life,” Cotter added.

Although there are many advantages, taxidermy also has its downfalls.

In reference to his least favorite part about taxidermy, ”all the different smells involved in preparation for the taxidermy,” Hobbs said.

Added Cotter: “My least favorite part is probably dealing with greasy animals.”