Reconstructing Dead Nonhuman Animals: Motivations for Becoming a Taxidermist

in Society & Animals
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Displays of dead nonhuman animals are a common sight on the walls of many American homes and commercial establishments. Taxidermists are the individuals who preserve and attempt to re-create dead animals, birds, and fish so they can be displayed. Little is known about those employed in the profession, including characteristics of individuals who enter this line of work. Using a qualitative approach to data collection, this exploratory research examined motivations for becoming a taxidermist in Montana. Findings suggest that Montana taxidermists entered the profession for one of five main reasons: an interest in wildlife, a desire to mount their own trophies, a hobby that became a job, the necessity of changing jobs, and miscellaneous motivations.

Society & Animals

Journal of Human-Animal Studies



AlbertiS. J. M. M. Constructing nature behind glass Museum and Society 2008 6 2 73 97

AlveyM. The cinema as taxidermy: Carl Akeley and the preservative obsession Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media 2007 48 1 23 45

AndreiM. A. The accidental conservationist: William T. Hornaday, the Smithsonian bison expeditions and the U.S. National Zoo Endeavour 2005 29 3 109 113

AsmaS. T. Stuffed animals and pickled heads: The culture and evolution of natural history museums 2001 New York Oxford

BarrowM. V.Jr. The specimen dealer: Entrepreneurial natural history in America’s gilded age Journal of the History of Biology 2000 33 3 493 534

BergmanC. Obits for the fallen hunter: Reading the decline—and death?—of hunting in America American Literary History 2005 17 4 818 830

BerryB. Interactionism and animal aesthetics: A theory of reflected social power Society & Animals 2008 16 1 75 89

BlomP. To have and to hold: An intimate history of collectors and collecting 2002 Woodstock, NY The Overlook Press

BornG. Public museums, museum photography, and the limits of reflexivity Journal of Material Culture 1998 3 2 223 254

BronnerS. J. Killing tradition: Inside hunting and animal rights controversies 2008 Lexington The University Press of Kentucky

BrowerM. Trophy shots: Early North American photographs of nonhuman animals and the display of masculine prowess Society & Animals 2005 13 1 13 31

BrownellJ. L. The genesis of wildlife conservation in Montana 1987 Unpublished master’s thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

BryantC. D. The zoological connection: Animal-related human behavior Social Forces 1979 58 2 399 421

BryantC. D. The quest for dead animals on the wall: The African safari as phantasmagorical experience 2004 August Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association San Francisco, CA

BryantC. D.ShoemakerD. J. Dead zoo chic: Some conceptual notes on taxidermy in American social life Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology 1988 16 2 195 202

CainJ. P. CutchinsD.EliasonE. A. Blood culture and the problem of decadence Wild games: Hunting and fishing traditions in North America 2009 Knoxville The University of Tennessee Press 45 61

CunninghamP. F. Topics awaiting study: Investigable questions on animal issues Society & Animals 1995 3 1 89 106

CurtisS. Making a killing Montana Outdoors 2002 33 5 6 13

DenzinN. Interpretive interactionism 1989 Newbury Park, CA Sage

DesmondJ. RothfelsN. Displaying death, animating life: Changing fictions of “liveness” from taxidermy to animatronics Representing animals 2002 Bloomington Indiana University Press 159 179

DesmondJ. Postmortem exhibitions: Taxidermied animals and plastinated corpses in the theaters of the dead Configurations 2008 16 3 347 377

EliasonS. L. A statewide examination of hunting and trophy nonhuman animals: Perspectives of Montana hunters Society & Animals 2008 16 3 256 278

FarberP. L. The development of taxidermy and the history of ornithology Isis 1977 68 4 550 566

FowlerF. J.Jr. Survey research methods 1993 Newbury Park, CA Sage

FritzH. W. FritzH. W.MurphyM.SwartoutR. R.Jr. Montana in the twenty-first century Montana legacy: Essays on history, people, and place 2002 Helena Montana Historical Society Press 341 358

GrasseniC. Taxidermy as rhetoric of self-making: Charles Waterton (1782-1865), wandering naturalist Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 1998 29 2 269 294

GreerK. A.GuelkeJ. K. “Intrepid naturalists and polite observers”: Gender and recreational birdwatching in southern Ontario, 1791-1886 Journal of Sport History 2003 30 3 323 346

HansenR. Animal skins in contemporary art Journal of Visual Art Practice 2010 9 1 9 16

HarawayD. Teddy bear patriarchy: Taxidermy in the Garden of Eden, New York City, 1908-1936 Social Text 1984-1985 11 20 64

HeberleinT. A. Changing attitudes and funding for wildlife—Preserving the sport hunter Wildlife Society Bulletin 1991 19 4 528 534

HenningM. Anthropomorphic taxidermy and the death of nature: The curious art of Hermann Ploucquet, Walter Potter, and Charles Waterton Victorian Literature and Culture 2007 35 2 663 678

Herda-RappA.GoedekeT. L. Herda-RappA.GoedekeT. L. Mad about Wildlife 2005 Leiden, the Netherlands Brill 1 21 Introduction

JerolmackC. How pigeons became rats: The cultural-spatial logic of problem animals Social Problems 2008 55 1 72 94

JordanB. “Conservation of boyhood”: Boy Scouting’s modest manliness and natural resource conservation, 1910-1930 Environmental History 2010 15 4 612 642

KalofL.FitzgeraldA. Reading the trophy: Exploring the display of dead animals in hunting magazines Visual Studies 2003 18 2 112 122

KalofL.FitzgeraldA.BaraltL. Animals, women, and weapons: Blurred sexual boundaries in the discourse of sport hunting Society & Animals 2004 12 3 237 251

KnightJ. Making wildlife viewable: Habituation and attraction Society & Animals 2009 17 2 167 184

LawsonH. M.LawsonL. R.LeckK. The meaning of animals Sociological Viewpoints 2005 21 35 52

LeongK. M. The tragedy of becoming common: Landscape change and perceptions of wildlife Society and Natural Resources 2010 23 2 111 127

Madsen-BrooksL. Challenging science as usual: Women’s participation in American natural history museum work, 1870-1950 Journal of Women’s History 2009 21 2 11 38

MaloneM. P.RoederR. B.LangW. L. Montana: A history of two centuries 1991 Seattle University of Washington Press

MarvinG. KowalskyN. Living with dead animals? Trophies as souvenirs of the hunt Hunting: In search of the wild life 2010 West Sussex, United Kingdom Wiley-Blackwell 107 117

McIntoshW. D.SchmeichelB. Collectors and collecting: A social psychological perspective Leisure Sciences 2004 26 1 85 97

MontagJ. M.PattersonM. E.FreimundW. A. The wolf viewing experience in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park Human Dimensions of Wildlife 2005 10 4 273 284

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Taxidermist 2010 Retrieved March 8, 2010, from: <>

NieselJ. The horror of everyday life: Taxidermy, aesthetics, and consumption in horror films Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture 1994 2 4 61 80

PalmerC. E. Dog catchers: A descriptive study Qualitative Sociology 1978 1 1 79 107

PalmerC. E.ForsythC. J. Animals, attitudes, and anthropomorphic sentiment: The social construction of meat and fur in postindustrial society International Review of Modern Sociology 1992 22 2 29 44

PatchettM. Tracking tigers: Recovering the embodied practices of taxidermy Historical Geography 2008 36 17 39

PatchettM.FosterK. Repair work: Surfacing the geographies of dead animals Museum and Society 2008 6 2 98 122

PetersonM. N. An approach for demonstrating the social legitimacy of hunting Wildlife Society Bulletin 2004 32 2 310 321

PoliquinR. The matter and meaning of museum taxidermy Museum and Society 2008 6 2 123 134

RitvoH. Destroyers and preservers: Big game in the Victorian Empire History Today 2002 52 1 33 39

RitvoH. Animal planet Environmental History 2004 9 2 204 220

Schulze-HagenK.SteinheimerF.KinzelbachR.GasserC. Avian taxidermy in Europe from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance Journal fur Ornithologie 2003 144 4 459 478

ShaffirW.PawluchD. ReynoldsL. T.Herman-KinneyN. J. Occupations and professions Handbook of symbolic interactionism 2003 Walnut Creek, CA AltaMira Press 893 913

ShellH. R. Skin deep: Taxidermy, embodiment, and extinction in W. T. Hornady’s buffalo group Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 2004 55 5 89 112

ShelleyT. O.CrowM. S. The nature and extent of conservation policing: Law enforcement generalists or conservation specialists? American Journal of Criminal Justice 2009 34 1-2 9 27

SimpsonM. Immaculate trophies Essays on Canadian Writing 1999 68 77 106

SmithL. D. G.HamS. H.WeilerB. V. The impacts of profound wildlife experiences Anthrozoös 2011 24 1 51 64

StarS. L. ClarkeA. E.FujimuraJ. H. Craft vs. commodity, mess vs. transcendence: How the right tool became the wrong one in the case of taxidermy and natural history The right tools for the job: At work in twentieth-century life sciences 1992 Princeton, NJ Princeton University Press 257 286

StephensE. Inventing the bodily interior: Ecorche figures in early modern anatomy and von Hagens’ Body Worlds Social Semiotics 2007 17 3 313 326

U.S. Department of the Interior 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation 2006a U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2010, from: <>

U.S. Department of the Interior 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation: Montana 2006b U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Commerce, and U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved January 6, 2010, from: <>

WakehamP. Taxidermic signs: Reconstructing aboriginality 2008 Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press

WintleC. Career development: Domestic display as imperial, anthropological, and social trophy Victorian Studies 2008 50 2 279 288

WrightM. V.SanyalN. Differentiating motivations of guided versus unguided fly anglers Human Dimensions of Wildlife 1998 3 1 34 46


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 21 21 12
Full Text Views 4 4 4
PDF Downloads 1 1 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0