Left: russell A. graves; right: sneekerp | dreamstime.com
A Life-Like Vision
Derek Dieringer has been surrounded by taxidermy ever since his father, Jimmy Dieringer, started Woodbury Taxidermy in 1977 in Ingram. In 2005, Derek took over the company and has spearheaded it since. White-tailed deer is one of the most common species they do.
What first fascinated you about taxidermy?
Dieringer: “I’m a little different from some because it was part of my life (growing up). But what drew me was trying to take that animal back to its natural state by looking at reference and anatomy. Every animal is different. We try to re-create that lifelike vision somebody saw when they were hunting that deer. Then, somebody gets to take it home and enjoy it for the rest of their life.”
What’s your typical taxidermy process?
Dieringer: “It comes in and we skin it. We do all the ear, eye and nose turning to save the skin and prepare it for the tannery. Once you do that, you salt the skin, which sets the hair so the hair doesn’t fall out. Then, you dry the skin and send it to a commercial tanner to tan into leather, basically. When we get that skin back, we rehydrate it in water and the skin stretches. That’s when we mount it because it gives a little bit of flexibility. We find the proper mannequin for the right size of that skin and start the mounting process. It takes a couple of days to dry as we rework the head because that skin dries and shrinks. Once it dries, we do our painting and it’s ready to go home.”
How do you give whitetails a personality?
Dieringer: “Spend time in the field looking at them alive to pick traits that emphasize what will bring that lifelike look. Anybody can put (skin) on a piece of foam and sew it up. But by finding little details, a vein or the ear position, it seems more lifelike. You emphasize that and, all of a sudden, you start getting this piece of art that looks real.”
A GUIDE TO WHITE-TAILED DEER
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