I am very happy to say another very successful World Show is in the books. The tempo and enthusiasm of the show was extremely high, and it increased several notches when hunting-celebrity Jim Shockey arrived. Jim spent every active minute of the show on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday—meeting, visiting, and taking photos with show attendees. When he departed he told me that our group was the most genuine and down-to-earth group he had ever been around. That says a lot for a man who has traveled the world meeting sportsmen of all categories. I thank Ken Walker for putting me in touch with Jim and helping make his visit happen.
Jim Schockey loves taxidermy and its connection with preserving nature and exhibiting natural history. He has designed, developed, and built his own wildlife museum in British Columbia and has a deep appreciation for the artistry that goes into preserving the animals he has hunted around the world, the vast majority taken by bow and arrow. During the show he met and made many new friends and the same can be said for the hundreds that had the opportunity to spend time with him.
During the show we also had the pleasure of a visit from Johnny Morris, owner and CEO of Bass Pro and Cabela’s. Johnny’s visit on Thursday evening gave me the opportunity to give him the VIP tour of the trade show and competition. For a man who owns more mounts than probably anyone in the world, he was extremely impressed with the quality and detail of the work at our show by so many world class taxidermists. He expressed a strong interest in Bass Pro being a big part in future World Championships.
One of the common comments I hear from the many individuals during these Championships is, “I attend for many reasons, but it is the camaraderie and seeing old friends that keeps me coming.” That is certainly true as I saw many old acquaintances, but at this year’s event we had a record number of newcomers. Every vendor I talked to in the trade show said it was an extremely busy show, also noting that they saw a lot of new faces and met a lot of new customers. Our registration supported this with 1,155 registered attendees representing 44 states and 19 countries. The Friday night award show had 582 in attendance. As you might imagine, Missouri had the highest attendance for a state with 74 registrants. Countries other than the USA saw Canada with 24 attendees and China with 13.
One of the highlights of this years award show was the presentation of the World Show Lifetime Achievement Award to Frank Newmyer. Our awards show producer, Ken Edwards, put together a beautiful video presentation showing the many facets of Frank’s life that earned him this prestigious award. You can find a link to the video showcasing Frank’s achievements and contributions at the Taxidermy.net website.
As we have done in the past, we are featuring the Best in World (taxidermy) winners in our first issue following the show. Full photo features of all taxidermy divisions and fish carving will be shown and reviewed in future issues of Breakthrough.
There were 17 possible best in World Titles available in the Master Division, and this year 15 of those titles were awarded. The two Master categories that did not received World Titles this year were Mixed Groups and the new category of Large Gameheads (Non-Antlered/Non-Horned). There were only 3 entries in both of these categories and none had scores of 90 or above, thus ineligible for a Best in World gold medallion.
The 2019 World Show competition had 537 total entries with the Master Division leading the way again with 193 entries. You must remember this is a single-ribbon division and only one first, second, and third ribbon is possible in each category, if the entry scores high enough to earn a ribbon. Many pieces scoring in the 90’s do not receive a placing ribbon. Of the193 entries in the Master Division, 96 earned ribbons. To be eligible for a Best in World (or Second in World or Third in World) for any category, you must score a 90 or above. Of the 96 awarded ribbons, 69 were eligible for major awards with a score of 90 or above, and 36 of the 69 that scored 90 or above won a Third, Second, or Best in World Award. Those 36 winners are featured in Gallery pp2-13.
Outside of the taxidermy Master Division there were also Best in World winners for the Collective Artists Division and Live Sculpture Division. For the third World Show (2015, 2017, 2019) in a row, Forest Hart and Phil Soucy have been part of the team to win the Best in World Collective Artists. This award is voted on by all (26) World Show Judges.
David Ferguson of Harrisville, Utah, captured his second World Title for Live Taxidermy Sculpture. David also has a World Title for his taxidermy, winning a gold medal in Lifesize Mammals in 2015. We will have a special feature in the next issue on the Live Sculpting competition with photos of all contestants and their sculptures.
There are always some paramount accomplishments worth noting during every World Show, and the one that stands out for me in 2019 was the achievements of the taxidermists and a fish carver all from Wisconsin. Five captured World Titles and one of those five captured the Best of Show Fish Carving award. The five were Clint Rickey (Best in World Whitetail), Mike Nakielski (Best in World Waterfowl), Mike Orthober (Best in World Non-Gamebird [his third Best in World title]), Rodney Schreurs (Best in World Reproduction, and his tenth World Title overall), and Dave Sprout (Best in World Decorative Lifesize Fish Carving and Judges’ Choice Best of Show). Clint Rickey also received a Third in World for Gameheads and Mike Nakielski a second place Carl E. Akeley Award.
Their friend, Tim Gorenchan from the next-door state of Michigan, gathered with them after the show for a photo on stage. Tim won his second Best in World Title for Coldwater Fish Skin Mount and also captured the Competitors’ Choice Award and the Judges’ Choice Best of Show for taxidermy. Tim’s winning entry of a big muskellunge graces the cover of this issue.
Other noteworthy accomplishments were: Matthias Fahrni of Switzerland winning his third World Title for fish skin mounts; Carolin Brak-Dolny of Frankford, Ontario, winning her fourth World Title and second in the Category of Recreations, George Elekes of LaSalle, Ontario, winning two World Titles for Medium-Small Lifesize Mammals and Medium-Small Gameheads; and Ashley Barrett of Pennsylvania winning his second Best in World Large Lifesize Mammals. Ashley also won the Chairman’s Award with his composition of two timber wolves and placed first in the Competitors’ Awards, winning the largest cash prize awarded at the WTC of $4,000.
Dale Manning won his second Best in World title in the bird categories winning Best in World Gamebird. Dale’s first World Title was in 2013 for waterfowl.
Another worthy accomplishment came from the husband and wife team of Dan and Carmen Helmer of DuQuoin, Illinois. Dan captured the title for Best in World Largemouth Bass and Carmen won a Third in World title in Waterfowl. They have been consistent and successful competitors at the WTC for many years and it was great to see both of them take home medals in 2019. Be sure to view the Breakthrough Gallery (pages 2–13) and the list of winners in this issue as there were many other great accomplishments with new names that you will likely see again at future World Shows.
In Fish Carving Dave Sprout of Lena, Wisconsin, won the coveted Best in World for Decorative Lifesize and Judges’ Choice Best of Show with a brook trout carving. Phil Brannan of Lumberton, Texas, won his third World Title, winning Best in World Decorative Miniature.
New York artist/carver Paul Thiesing captured the Best in World Natural Finish title. Next issue we will feature an article by Paul featuring his Decorative Lifesize entry of a brown trout that placed second in the Trout-Salmon-Char category of Decorative Lifesize carving.
During the World Show Award Ceremony on Friday night, Michael Oropallo, the Taxidermy Hall of Fame secretary/treasurer, announced the elected THOF inductees for the class of 2019: Cary Cochran of Ohio and Mike Orthober of Wisconsin. They will be officially inducted at a ceremony that will take place at the 2019 NTA convention in Sioux Fall, South Dakota, on Saturday, July 27.
Another special award presented was the Blomquist Award. This award was started a few years ago when Big Rock Sports & Headquarters Supply sponsored a taxidermy competition and show in Raleigh, NC. Its purpose is to honor individuals who are educators and practitioners of the art of taxidermy, show leadership, and have given of their time and knowledge for the advancement of wildlife art. The folks at Big Rock asked if they could continue the award at the WTC and their request was granted. This year’s winner was Forest Hart. Toby, as his friends call him, was one of the early major award winners at the first World Show in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1983. He is still a world-renown sculptor and has produced hundreds of taxidermy forms still being produced for the taxidermy industry. He has also recently teamed up with fellow taxidermists to capture three World Titles (2015, 2017, and 2019) in the Collective Artists Division of the WTC.
Before ending this review of the 2019 World Taxidermy and Championship I must say I was very impressed with the participation in the new Habitat Division and the Bronze Wildlife Sculpture Invitational. We will feature much more about both in a future issue. There were 28 entries in the Habitat Division and 26 in the Bronze Invitational. Both events received high praise and attention and their success at the World Show should only be better in two years.
At press time no decision has been made for the 2021 World Show as we are still looking at possible venues. As a final word, Kathy and I must both express our most sincere thank you to all the hard-working people who gave of their time and effort in producing another great show for the artist of taxidermy and fish carving. All of you who attended—the staff, judges, seminar instructors, trade show vendors, seminars instructors, competition competitors, and all attendees—are what make this the great show that it is. Thank you so much! We hope to see you all again at the next World Championships.