Rural Missouri - May 2018 - 22

Frozen
for Life
Winfield taxidermist brings new
by Heather Berry | hberry@ruralmissouri.coop

was born and raised in St. Louis, leaving Missouri at the age of 19 to work with
his uncle in Costa Rica, then it was off to California, Washington, Montana,
hirty pairs of eyes stare intently as he works. Some of the eyes seem Colorado and Texas. In 2005, Bruce moved back home to Missouri, settling in
to stare off in the distance, while others seem to intently view what's rural Winfield where he lives with his wife, Leslie.
One constant during all the years of moving was that Bruce always was
beneath them. The animals are ready to fly - or in some cases, leap -
perfecting his taxidermy skills. He is quick to credit his grandpa's neighbor
from their lofty position onto the work table below.
Unruffled by the attention, Bruce Owens continues to place one feather at a for shooting a pigeon and showing Bruce how to mount it at age 12 as his real
time with a pair of long-nosed tweezers, assuring even the down
start into taxidermy. The youngster was totally enamored by the skill
beneath them lays as perfectly as it would if the bird was alive.
right then, and the rest is history.
Bruce, an award-winning taxidermist, is in demand for those
"My mom would go to work, my sisters would go to school and I'd
skip," Bruce admits. "I'd put a pan of bread in the yard, pull the
who want to preserve their trophies.
"If it has feathers, I'm diggin' it," Bruce says, carefully running
kitchen curtains back, go inside and rest my shotgun on the table.
Winfield
The crows and starlings didn't have a chance. I'd work on birds
his hand down the wing of the chestnut-red headed canvasback duck,
as if to let the bird know what care he's taken to make him look alive
at the kitchen table all day long. I don't think Mom knew until
years later."
again. This particular male duck had been in a customer's freezer for
Bruce says it was the school of hard knocks and the genernearly 5 years before he asked Bruce to mount it for him.
osity of experts in the field that helped him become the awardBruce gazes into the red glass eye of the duck and carefully removes
winning taxidermist he is today. Other than that, he's had no
a minute speck with a tiny brush and alcohol, then mounts the flying
formal schooling for the craft.
bird on a piece of smooth driftwood. "Many hunters consider these canvas"I entered my first competition in Denver at the age of 26 - and I didn't even
backs one of the top trophies of the duck hunting world," says the taxidermist.
"And this is a really nice one. I'm glad the owner decided to get it out of the pull one ribbon," says the Cuivre River Electric Cooperative member. Instead
of giving up, the young taxidermist looked at the work of those who had won
freezer so he could start appreciating it."
Located along Highway 79 in Winfield, 30 miles northwest of St. Louis, Wild and ended up talking to the best of the best in the masters division about their
Trophies Taxidermy & Taxidermy School seems situated in the perfect locale, craft. One of the winning taxidermists told Bruce, "If you think my work is
great, go talk to Don Bowman at the Denver Museum." So, he did.
surrounded by fields along the Mississippi River which abound with wildlife.
"I was so amazed by Don's work I asked if he'd give me some lessons," Bruce
Bruce will tell you he's lived a lot of life a lot of places during his 58 years. He

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - May 2018

Contents
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - Contents
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - 4
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - 5
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - 6
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - 7
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - 8
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Rural Missouri - May 2018 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - Cover4
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