Jan. 2017 Newsletter

The Arkansas Taxidermist Association is ready to rumble on their 36th Annual Convention and Competition to be held February 24-26, 2017 at DeGray Lake Resort Lodge and Conference Center in Bismarck, Arkansas. This year’s convention will be in the same place as the 2015-16 Convention, located at 2027 State Park Entrance Road. The resort is located off Interstate 30, at Exit 78 for Caddo Valley, then north 6 miles on Highway 7. This is a State Park so camping is available at a rate of $19/day. Lodge room rates are $85 per night. Reservations may be made at (501)865-5850. The lodge has a restaurant and bar so there is no need to leave. However, fast food is available 6 miles away in Caddo Valley. There is also a Walmart down I-30 at Exit 73 in Arkadelphia.


The ATA is pleased to announce that Mr. Jack Emery of Carmi, Illinois will be judging the Whitetail Deer Division at the 2016 ATA Competition. Mr. Emery won the Best in the World Title for Whitetail Deer in 2013 as well as National Champion Gamehead in 2011 with a caribou, and National Champion Whitetail in 2012. He has been well-respected in the taxidermy industry for over 30 years. The Illinois Hall of Fame lists him in two separate divisions—Whitetail Deer and Gameheads.
Mr. Randy Holler of Hettinger, North Dakota will be judging the Waterfowl and Upland Bird Divisions. Mr. Holler has been in taxidermy since 1997, working in all species but specializing in birds. He has won multiple times in Best of Show and Judge’s Choice. Mr. Holler has won the North American Champion Bird award in 2008 and again in 2011. In 2009, he won Best in the World Gamebird.
Judging the Life-size Mammals, Gameheads, and Fish Division will be Mr. Bob Schnettgoeke of Grafton, Illinois. Mr. Schnettgoeke has been a fulltime taxidermist since 1989. He has won many awards in state, national, and world competition levels including 14 Best of Category in the Masters, 3 State Champion Awards, 2 Best of Show, and a host of others.

ATA News

The Arkansas Taxidermist Association is now officially state and federally recognized as a non profit organization as well as we are  incorporated.

This new year 2017 we will incorporate something new the Arkansas Taxidermist Association Hall of Fame. Look back into your memory bank and see who has contributed greatly to the ATA. We have chosen two people this first year and will choose one per year after this.


Hi, my name is Rebecca Wilcher and I’m from Ashdown, Arkansas. My husband, Larry, and I run a full time taxidermy business named Woods n Wetlands Taxidermy. I’ve been doing taxidermy for seventeen years now. The fascination with taxidermy started when I was a little girl visiting my grandmother, who kept a large Muskie in the back bedroom. I would have to go see it every time I visited. That’s when the fire was ignited. When I was in my early twenties, the passion for it was still there. I had a gentleman by the name of Larry Hobbs teach me the basics of mounting a deer. I started getting involved in my state competition, which then created an addiction! I love the competing–always trying to outdo myself every year.
Hunting bull Tahr in New Zealand has always been a dream of mine. That story begins at the 2011 World Championship Show where I met wonderful, and now great friends, Vern and Louise from New Zealand. From there, my dream would be fulfilled.
My hunt was amazing–the helicopter ride, snow, five days of sleeping in tents, frozen boots, and brushing my teeth with freezing water. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything!
I was blessed to harvest two bulls at 460 yards, thanks to Vern and his 7mm rum! My second bull was taken just behind our camp. Vern had glassed him and asked if I wanted to take him. Of course, there was no hesitation on my part! When I took the first two shots, I didn’t think I’d connected but when I took the third, after an adjustment on the scope, Vern said that I hit him. I wasn’t sure. I told Vern not to worry about it. The weather was getting bad and it was getting dark. That night and the next day brought in a nasty “little” storm so there was no leaving the tents. The day after was a beautiful day and our last hunting day. Louise and I went down below camp looking for chamois because we both had killed tahrs. Vern went back where we had taken our bulls earlier above camp. After an uneventful day, we headed back to camp. It was getting near dark when we arrived. Then we heard Vern on the radio that he had found my tahr that I thought I’d missed! Needless to say, I was a little excited! He had skinned him for a pedestal mount.
I mounted him up for the world show this year and received second in the world in gameheads. I wasn’t even planning on going to the NTA show in Tennessee, but I thought it might be my last chance to win North American Champion. Well let’s just say I was very surprised to receive all the other awards that my tahr had won! On top of the North American Champion, there was the Sinclair Clark Memorial Award, first place Challenge of the Arts, Judges Best of Show, and Taxidermist of the Year which came with a beautiful lion sculpture! I cannot put into words the emotions I felt that night, especially when I received a standing ovation when I won Taxidermist of the Year!
I cannot express my gratitude enough to those people who have helped me achieve this goal. This honor belongs to them more than it belongs to myself. Vern and Louise, without you guys taking me in and putting up with me for 27 days, this wouldn’t have been possible. A big thank you to all my teachers, judges, mentors and friends who have taught and supported me. To Larry and Kathy Bloomquist, if it hadn’t had been for the world show, those doors would’ve never been opened for me– thank you! I will never forget my biggest fan, my husband Larry, who endured 27 whole days without me! It wasn’t good! He deserves sooo much more, I love you babe. Thank you for believing in me from the very beginning. Oh! Let’s not forget my Heavenly Father who has blessed me with wonderful talent and giving me these great opportunities. It’s funny how God has great things in store for us! I owe it all to Him!
By Rebecca Wilcher

The following essay was submitted to the National Taxidermists Association by Jared Harper of Damascus. Jared’s essay was selected to win this year’s Charles Fleming Scholarship of $500.

The legacy of the NTA began in Poplar Bluff, Missouri on September 26, 1972. The first seminar of painting a fish was held here, but actually failed due to lack of space. No one could watch this seminar because of the fumes. Along with the new NTA officials being selected, by-laws were scripted by Onno Van Veen.

The “promotion of the art of taxidermy” as it states in the NTA Mission Statement was discussed and feuded over at a board meeting on May 18, 1973. One major discussion was about the increase of “basement bandit-type taxidermists” in operation; updating by-laws; pricing for work, as well as the replacement of the president should death or anything else remove him from office.

The next location was held in Owensboro, Kentucky on August 17-19, 1973 in the National Guard Armory. It was decided that board members would be able to take place in the convention. Bud Hull from Rossville,
Georgia’s entry was chosen as the NTA’s logo emblem. This progression was the key to promoting taxidermy from this point forward.

With the furthering of taxidermy, the NTA’s mission statement has impacted different branches of wildlife and the art of taxidermy. The statement quotes, “The mission of the NTA is to promote the art of taxidermy, and wildlife conservation and protect the freedom to hunt.”

Along with my father being a full time taxidermist, I have grown up around taxidermy all my life.
Helping my father’s business, has brought me to realize this art will always be in my life, with my decision of higher education, the money from this scholarship will further me in my decisions of college, while still participating in this art. With two youth titles from the NTA already under my belt, this organization has broadened my perspective of the art of taxidermy, as well as promoting me into a better future.

Another thing taxidermy has taught me, is that it’s not all for personal gain. We have put many smiles on the old and young with all types of their trophy pieces. My father always told me, “If you don’t like it, your customer won’t either”. “This art is about “preservation” if you can’t make your specimen look just as it did in the wild, then you haven’t just disappointed your customer, but you also disappointed life itself”.

All in all, the NTA has been shining the way to promoting taxidermy for over 40 years. The NTA’s goal since 1972 has changed the lives of many people, not only in the art, but as well as with the scholarship. This is such an amazing opportunity. Let alone to have the prestigious honor of a scholarship from the NTA would be life-changing for me, as well as the rest of my future, on into my adulthood. Taxidermy, no matter what, will leave lasting impressions on me; I can give thanks to the founders of the NTA and organization for this wonderful opportunity for this scholarship in my goals for college.

By Jared Harper



If you want to “up your game” and increase your skill as a taxidermist, you may apply to be a scribe to one of the ATA Judges at this year’s competition. You will be keeping notes for the judges as they go over the competition mounts. These will be given out to any ATA member in four hour blocks for $100. Contact Chad Smith (479) 426-7948 or Rodney Harper (501)425-6876. You may also contact them by email or Facebook. Reserve your spot today!