Well last night was the night. After over a year my Africa plains game mounts finally arrived from the taxidermists. I was excited as a kid in a candy store. In this age of instant gratification we all want it now and my Africa Trophies were no exception. For those of you who have ever dealt with a taxidermist you know they march to a different drummer. You can’t rush an artist and good taxidermists are truly artists!
Just to set the stage, in September 2009 my cousin Monte went to Alaska on a Brown Bear bowhunt that Cory lined up for him, and on the last day of the hunt he was able to harvest a nice 600 pound bruin. Now about a mile from my house in Apache Junction lives a world famous Taxidermist by the name of Kent Gardner and he specializes in bears. So after getting him and Monte together, Monty decided that this was the guy to mount his bear. His work is incredible. In May of 2009 I went on a 10 day African Safari with world famous professional hunter Wolma Kemp. His friends just refer to him as Kemp and after hunting with him for 10 days we created a bond that I am sure will last a lifetime. I am sure all his clients feel this way but he sure has a way about him that draws you back to Africa.
After harvesting 12 animals including a Kudu, Gemsbok, Blue Wildebeest and the pending world record Red Hartebeest (my wife Darla also took the first two animals of her life, an Impala and a Springbuck), we then went with Kemp to deliver our trophies to Karoo Taxidermy (South Africa’s largest) to make preparations for our trophies to be mounted. It is more economical to have your trophies mounted in Africa than in the States because you get a better price and shipping costs are close whether mounted or just skins and horns. You also must consider shipping cost from the port to your taxidermist and from your taxidermist to you. South Africa Taxidermists also know what African animals really look like so you get a more realistic mount and usually turn around time is quicker.
It generally takes about a year to get your trophies from a good taxidermist and in June of this year I received a call from Karoo letting me know that my mounts were ready to be shipped to LA and as soon as they cleared customs they could be picked up. Most of you know that I am a Chef by trade and during the summer I travel around the country and do cooking demonstrations to help pay for my hunting habit. I leave in June and don’t get home until the end of September.
This is where my cousin comes in. Monte lives in California and he agreed to pick up my trophies at the airport and store them until I got home. It was killing me not seeing those trophies for 4 months knowing they were so close. As luck would have it, Monty’s bear was finished and he was coming to pick it up and he offered to bring my Africa mounts to Arizona. When Monte arrived Saturday afternoon we quickly unloaded my 6 ft. sq. crate and we went to pick up his bear. It was breathtaking. Thanks Kent for great work. After loading the bear in Monty’s trailer we headed back to my place to unpack my trophies.
We spent the next 5 hours unpacking and hanging mounts. Look at the pictures and let me know what you think. The wall looks like I had been to Africa several times but it was just one trip with Kemp.