Rural Missouri - April 2012 - (Page 18)

O U T D O O R S his month, Missouri turkey hunters will head to the woods full of the hope that as the sun rises on another spring day, their calls will entice a trophy gobbler within range. When a shot finally rings out, many will savor success. Missouri’s spring turkey season lasts just three weeks, but preserving the memories of successful turkey hunts is a year-round endeavor for Rick Morris and his business, The Turkey Roost. Whereas most taxidermists work with a variety of species, Rick — along with son, Drake, and daughter, Natasha — specializes in the wild turkey. Together, the family has turned its taxidermy studio in Adair County into what is perhaps the most prolific producer of mounted wild turkeys in the country. “I don’t know it for a fact, but I believe that we mount more turkeys than anyone,” says the TriCounty Electric Cooperative member, who figures they mount 1,200 to 1,400 turkeys each year. “About anytime you can walk in here, we’ll have 200 to 300 mounted in the shop.” The Turkey Roost mounts birds for individual clients, hunting industry companies, retail stores such as Bass Pro Shops, as well as for other taxidermists. Rick Morris puts the finishing touches on a wild turkey at his taxidermy studio, The Turkey Roost. Rick, his son, While the sheer volume of turkeys coming through Drake, and his daughter, Natasha, are known for creating some of the most realistic and unique turkeys anywhere. the shop is impressive, the quality of the mounts the Morris family creates is second to none. “I think our birds are probably more realistic, anatomy-wise,” Rick says. “You have to know the anatomy of a turkey from the inside as well as the outside. I think that’s a big thing. Anatomy sets us apart. Anything a turkey does, we can do and probably make them look better than they do when they’re out in the wild.” Rick was introduced to turkey taxidermy as a large portion of the overall business. together the way it came apart. I’m child. His family raised domestic bronze turkeys, He estimates they have 5,000 to 6,000 the same way with a turkey. I put which look similar to their wild relatives, and they heads on hand all the time. it back together the way it came fascinated him. When Rick decided to make taxider“We can’t keep up with the deapart.” Watch as Rick and Drake Morris my his full-time career about 20 years ago, he settled mand,” adds Drake. The Turkey Roost currently take a turkey through the on Missouri’s top game bird as his muse. Although father and son may charges $650 to mount a turkey in taxidermy process from start to “I figured if we specialized in one thing, we’re goshare the same studio, their taxiderany pose. Customers can upgrade finish in the online edition at ing to be better at it than everyone else,” he says. my styles couldn’t be further apart, the base or add scenery for an Because of repetition, it doesn’t take long for Rick says Natasha, who runs the front tional fee. Repair work and feather or Drake to mount a turkey. Rick estimates that once office and keeps everything running smoothly. replacement cost extra. the turkey skin reaches his bench, it takes a little “My brother is a perfectionist,” she explains. “He After mounting turkeys for more than two demore than 23 minutes on average to finish the job. may do a basic pose, but it’ll be perfect right down cades, Rick says the best part Some poses take as little as nine minutes. Overall, to the last feather. On the other hand, my dad can of his job today is makthere’s about three hours of work in each bird. create a scene that makes you almost feel like you’re ing people happy and As Drake and Natasha grew up, Rick involved in the woods. You can feel the emotion.” helping the hunting them in the family business. He says Rick says for him, part of the appeal of turkey community. The as soon as Drake could reach the taxidermy is the ability to tell a story with his studio often donates • bench — standing atop a 5-gallon taxidermy work Greentop work. Turkeys are almost always mounted bucket — he was mounting turkeys. He full body, and that allows Rick to combine to organizations completed his first solo mount when he multiple birds and create interactions that offer hunts to was just 10 years old. between them. kids dealing with Both father and son have won numer“You look at one turkey sitting here life-threatening ous state, national and international strutting. OK, he’s strutting, but why diseases. awards for their work, which is known and is he strutting?” Rick asks hypotheti“I never forget respected throughout the industry. Rick cally. “What’s there around him to the reason we’re here has earned the National Taxidermists Association’s make him strut? We can put a hen with him or is because of family and Award of Excellence, and he writes a regular column another gobbler in half strut and tell a story. That’s friends — friends like for Taxidermy Today. what I enjoy doing, telling the story.” Sam and Kenny Neff,” With a focus solely on the wild turkey, the Such creations also afford Rick more opportunity he says. “If it wasn’t for Morris’ taxidermy studio offers an array of unique to work with his favorite turkey — the drab and oftthe Lord and friends poses that most other taxidermists don’t. The most overlooked hen. He says hens are harder to mount and family, we wouldn’t popular pose is still a gobbler in full strut, but Rick than gobblers because they have more feathers and have anything.” and Drake offer a number of preening, flying and more folds of skin. standing poses that clients won’t find anywhere else. “Gobblers I can do with my eyes closed,” Rick For more information Adding further to the realism of their work is says. “Hens, I like to take my time.” about The Turkey Roost, their use of custom freeze-dried turkey heads. Rick While most would argue the point, Rick doesn’t call 660-665-8109 or visit began crafting the line of turkey heads about 10 consider himself an artist. years ago to ensure consistent quality, and now “I’m more of a mechanic,” he explains. “With a or sales of the heads to other taxidermists comprise a motor, you take it apart, and then you put it back theturkeyroost. T by Jason Jenkins Something to gobble about Acclaimed wild turkey taxidermists call north Missouri home 18 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2012

Rural Missouri - April 2012
Table of Contents
Mule memories
Squandered opportunity
Something to gobble about
Best of Rural Missouri
Hearth and Home
The hardest fun ever
News Briefs
Around Missouri
Small-town saviors

Rural Missouri - April 2012