Taxidermist opens up about the art of reviving lost pets
Russ Wright had always wanted his own taxidermy shop. But after opening and then closing one when he was younger, Wright has finally found success in his retirement.
Wright traces his love of taxidermy back to his childhood, when he was first introduced to it by his father.
“My dad took me hunting when I was a kid, I started hunting when I was 14-years-old,” Wright said. “I always loved looking at different pieces of work…and hunting shops and that, I was always intrigued by it.”
After a couple years, Wright decided to try taxidermy for himself.
“I think I was about 18 when I started playing around with deer heads,” he said. “We didn’t have the Internet back then, you couldn’t really follow anything online but there were a lot of books on it.”
Photo by: Nicholas de Lima
That meant his first work was “pretty rugged.” Thankfully, a few taxidermists took him under their wing, and let him use their shops. Thus, Wright was afforded a rare opportunity to sharpen his skills at an early age while working for free under experienced professionals.
After a couple of years, Wright tried to start up his own company, Cripple Creek Taxidermy. With Wright’s passion for the art, he felt like he could open a quality business that could produce quality work.
However, Wright chose to take a break from the business when he found opportunities in other work.
“I let the taxidermy slide because I was progressing up the ladder of this other company very well, but once I retired from there, five years ago now…I started the shop up again”
So 30 years after it first opened, Cripple Creek Taxidermy is open for business a second time, this time finding greater success. Wright finds himself in his shop for nearly 12 hours a day producing pieces that his clients rave about.
Whether it’s a deer mount, fish or birds, or even a full-grown grizzly bear, Wright said he takes the time to make each and every piece look as natural and scenic as he possibly can. Additionally, Wright said he finishes his work in nearly a quarter of the time that it takes his competition.
However, Wright doesn’t perform taxidermy for his client’s praise. He does it because he has a deeply rooted passion. Wright finds a strong sense of pride when he gazes upon his own finished works.
“I think it’s with any artist, I mean when you’re working on a piece, a painting, a deer mount, whatever it is, if you’ve got the pride and the ability to want to do good, believe me, you’re gonna do good.”