My (full) name is: Anastasia Evelyn Landreth
(My common name is Stacey.)
I live in Wilesyville, CA.
I have owned & operated Blue Mountain Taxidermy for the past 10 years. I enjoy my outdoor life with my husband Rodney, and our 3 young & very active children. I began taxidermy the summer of 2008, opened up shop Oct. 30th, 2008. I join the California Association of Taxidermist’s (CAT) in 2009. I currently serve as the CAT secretary, managing show registrations, member’s records, organizing monthly Association conference calls, and pretty much everything in between (and still finding the time to be a full time Mom & part-time taxidermist)!
The first critter I ever mounted was a Ring-necked Pheasant in a taxidermy school. I would have to say my favorite specie to work on has to be reproduction fish. Reproducing the many colors, utilizing extensive reference photos, can be extremely challenging (yet very rewarding) for a wildlife artist. Over the years, I have received so much inspiration from so many wildlife artists. From the CAT Board members, to many senior/Master CAT members, all have been extremely supportive in helping me reach my personal goals.
I have to also thank my husband, Rodney, for his support and inspiration. (Although a pain in the butt at times,) his passionate drive pushes me to believe in my abilities. In the end, I really surprise myself with what I can do!
I believe my oddest taxidermy request has to be a shoulder mount of a prized Registered Red Angus “Copper Queen” as she was known on a neighboring ranch in Paloma, CA. I accepted the challenge. I had to use a water buffalo mannequin/form from McKenzie Taxidermy Supply. You see, Long Horns, even though they are a beef cow, have different structured facial features, leading me to utilize a water buffalo form.
Every taxidermist/wildlife artist has their personal accomplishments that make all that time and work something to be really proud of. Our 2019 CAT Wildlife Art & Taxidermy Show was certainly my proudest moment in taxidermy thus far! I was chosen (by my CAT BOD peers) and presented with the 2019 “Director of the Year” Award. Wow, what an honor!
In addition, I worked my tail off on a “Show Piece” entry for the show, a beautiful Blacktail deer my husband, Rodney, had harvested the season before. I poured my heart & soul into this piece. I utilized all my notes, tips & tricks I had learned from my “taxidermy family” over the years.
To my shocking surprise, I earned my first Blue/First Place ribbon! This accomplishment was overwhelming as it was, but they weren’t done with me yet! At the awards banquet, the Association President called me to the stage and presented me with the coveted Chad Hornbuckle Memorial “Most Improved Taxidermist”. (Chad was a long time loyal CAT member who passed away after a courageous battle with cancer in 2014.) I had improved my score level by 12 points from last year! My belt buckle award was celebrated along side my fellow CAT members who have all earned the prestigious award in prior years. What a night; I was speechless!
Then I was asked, “What advice would you have for the beginners in the art of taxidermy?”
Well, first of all, be a business owner first… then an artist. Have you ever heard the phrase “starving artist”? Truthfully, very few taxidermists are good business owners. Though they are VERY talented, they are not successful business persons because the mighty $$$$ isn’t conducting businesses, their imagination and creativity is. When you’re first starting out, it’s difficult not to become overwhelmed and frustrated with a dead animal turning into a total disaster. By learning the fine art of patience, you could simply moisten the specimen, cover with a moist towel and walk away. Re-engage with the beast the next day with a fresh, new approach. You CAN kill it twice, especially birds!
My additional advice to beginners is take a business class! Seek “investors” into your business. Utilize these “investment” $$$ (not mount profits) to purchase your trade tools for your shop; if you use profit, your paycheck will ALWAYS go into your shop and never into your pocket for bills. Example of start up $$$ tools to purchase: mounting stand, fleshing beam, knives and sharpeners, large work table, etc.
Make a list of those expenditures. Charge 50% down on ALL work taken in, ALWAYS! Use this down payment/deposit $$$ to purchase supplies; glass eyes, form, clay, tanning, shipping, paints, hide paste, etc. Shop/operational tools and mounting supplies expenses need to be separate. Shop $$ = personal start-up $$ investment. Mounting $$ = customer. When the work is completed, pocket the profit (which is the remaining 50% paid by the customer). Show your proof of profit with receipts. Remember, reserve/save 10% of your profit for your business savings from every mount/job.
Believe me, over time the savings will grow and will come in very handy for those “rainy days” or perhaps, shop emergencies such as a freezer going south (that one sucks)! Or you could use your savings for “stipends” for your investors. It’s very important to have detailed contracts as well.
Unfortunately, I have had to recently close my shop doors. 1) We have 3 young kids I’m raising at home, which by the way, a taxidermy shop is no place for kids. 2) I was a terrible business owner. I felt, every time I completed a mount, it was only paying for the last mount I did. I never made a profit, while busting my butt in the whole process. So I assure you, when I re-open my shop in the future, I will be conducting my business a little differently!!!
Please remember to enjoy all that God has created for us in the outdoors,