Steve German’s Taxidermy Art offers complete taxidermy services from alligators to zebras

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

When Steve German was in college in the early ’70s and all of his friends were tending bar or waiting tables, he was in his dorm room skinning

ducks.

“Ducks and geese were my passion at the time, and I really wanted to somehow make a living around them,” German said. “I began

duck guiding in 1973 and doing work for the guides.”

The guides told their hunters about him and before he knew it German had a taxidermy business.

In 2003, his son, Josh, graduated from McNeese State University and decided he wanted to not only follow in his footsteps

but broaden the business with fresh new business ideas.

Josh now owns Steve German’s Taxidermy

Art, which is a full-service taxidermy studio. They mount all the normal

animals that

Louisiana hunters have mounted but about five years ago the

business branched out to reach the hunters and fishermen who hunt

in Africa, New Zealand and other hunting and fishing destinations

around the world.

What has been the most unique?

With alligators becoming such a big

thing we have a completely different side of the business that deals

with just gators.

From mounting to products, we can do it all. Custom footwear,

belts, wallets, brief cases — whatever — if it can be made from

alligator we can do it.

What is the most difficult aspect of taxidermy? How long does it take?

The most difficult part of the business, in my opinion, is getting in a rut and forgetting how important good reference is.

No matter how much a taxidermist thinks he knows without good reference his mounts just can’t capture the animal.

The two most common questions we get

are “how much and how fast will I get it back?” The first question is

easy. The second

— not so much. The clients that bring their trophies in early in

the season get them back fairly quick. As season goes on,

the work comes in faster than we can mount it and our freezers

fill up. If you have 200 ducks in front of your duck it’s going

to take awhile. We try and stay on an inside 8 months deadline

which is about average for the industry.

How should one prepare after a kill to ensure optimal mounting?

Improper handling in the field will kill a good mount.

Birds:

Always have a plastic bag with you just in case you kill that trophy

you’ve been looking for. Place the bill under the wing

and place in plastic bag, force out all the air and seal the bag.

If you are in the field, set it in a safe place so the dog

and other hunters don’t accidently damage it.

Fish: Make sure the fish is good and wet, place in a plastic bag, force out the air and seal. Lay flat in the freezer.

Game:

We have more trouble with game heads than anything. Today’s modern

forms have lots of shoulder on them. The biggest problem

we see are deer cut too short. We ask hunters to bring us at least

half of the skin. With the deer hanging from its back legs

make your first cut a ring around the center of the animal. Ring

the legs at the first joint and pull them through then skin

to the back of the head. We’ll handle the rest. Hang the cape up

for a half-hour or so to let the fluids drain. Keep as cool

or cold as possible. Remember to be careful with the knife. We can

fix a lot of things, but the more we have to repair the

more the mount suffers.

How do the processes vary from different types of animals?

The taxidermy process is really the

same on all the animals we do. We have to get the meat and bone out of

everything. We

have to preserve the skin, and we have to put them back together.

Different animals present different problems, but it’s just

part of the business.

What are your prices? What is the most expensive? What is the cheapest?

Pricing is very personal. We range from

$250 for a simple duck mount with some climbing up to $6,000 or $7,000

for shoulder

mounts of some of the large African animals. White tails are $520

to $595 depending on the mount you choose. Fish are charged

accordingly, depending on species and size.

Have you won awards for your work?

I competed in taxidermy competitions

throughout the ’80s and ’90s. I won numerous competitions on the state

and regional level.

In 1990, I won first place in the national competition and was

awarded the Award Of Excellence by the National Taxidermist

Association, which elevated me to Master Taxidermist. I am a

national level competition judge and have judged shows all over

the United States including the 2011 national competition in Sioux

Falls, South Dakota. At this years national competition

I was a protest judge, a position used in case a competitor does

not agree with his score I would have stepped in and re-judged

the mount. Josh started competing at about 10 years old and has

won ribbons in several categories. He is an excellent canvas

artist and is a stickler for the little details that make a good

mount a great mount. Josh is my right hand man when I judge

and has a great knowledge of anatomy.

BUSINESS SNAPSHOT

• Location: 602 Sulphur Ave. in Westlake.

Owner: Josh German.

• Services provided: Complete taxidermy services from alligators to zebras and everything in between. They are U.S. booking

representatives for Game Hunters/Bird Hunters Africa.

• Hours: Open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.

• Years in business: 40.

Number of Employees: 3.

• Phone: 436-0210 or toll free 866-436-0210.

• Email: info@stevegerman.com.

• Website: www.stevegerman.com or on Facebook: Steve German’s Taxidermy Art.

• Motto: "Preserve the Memory"