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I’ve been asked many times, “How I got started doing taxidermy.” So here’s a little bit about myself and how I found myself in this exciting career field.

In 1995 I began learning taxidermy in Anchorage, Alaska under the watchful eye of the late Jim Scarborough of C and S Taxidermy. I met Jim when I brought a black bear I’d recently taken into his shop inquiring what it would cost to turn it into a rug. Jim quoted me the price, a whopping $450! I thought to myself, that’s pretty expensive. (At the time I was an Airman in the Air Force; anyone who’s been in the military knows they don’t pay young recruits very well) I replied to Jim “I’m a little short on cash today, can I work off some of the balance helping you around the shop?” He replied, “Sure thing”. That’s how I began my career as a taxidermist, trying to save money on my own taxidermy bill. Looking back, that moment was a significant life-changing event for me. I spent the next 8 years learning everything I could about taxidermy (and hunting) from old Jim. A passion to become a great taxidermist began for me. This passion continues, even more so, some 18 years later. I’ve even been fortunate enough over the years to return what was so freely given to me. I’ve introduced two people to the fascinating world of taxidermy. Both of them are now professional taxidermists working in their own shops.

In 2003, I moved to North Idaho, it was here that I began to apply my trade on my own. Fortunately, the lengthy period of time spent working as an apprentice taxidermist prepared me well for my own venture. I had a solid foundation upon which I could add more knowledge and experience. My mentor had been in the industry for many years and although quite effective, some of the techniques/materials used were a little ‘old school’. I was eager to try new ways of doing things. Once on my own, I began seeking out, testing and utilizing the latest techniques and materials. I was able to modify and refine processes, in my opinion significantly improving the quality and appearance of the projects I was hired to do. Even today, I’m always looking for a new way to do something, to make things just a little better.

2006-2010 found me in South Texas on the Mexican border bass fishing and continuing to further my knowledge of Big Game Taxidermy. It was here that I feel my skills as a taxidermist were honed to a fine edge. The diversity of game animals in South Texas is second to none. It was during this period that I became extremely comfortable and knowledgeable working on Exotic and African game. I started to build a client base of traveling hunters who traveled the globe seeking out trophy animals. One day I’d be working on a Kudu, the next a whitetail, mean while a cougar is getting dropped off followed by an axis deer and an oryx. A taxidermist’s dream for sure! Unfortunately, my family didn’t care for Texas (Heat) much, and there was a shortage of opportunities for my two children in the smaller border town we were living in. I really enjoyed my time in South Texas, world-class hunting and bass fishing year round. What else do you need?

In 2010 I completed 20 years of service in the Air Force and retired. My family and I decided we’re moving back to beautiful North Idaho for the long haul, less winter than Alaska and less heat than Texas, in the middle of the two extremes. (I could do with a few months less winter though, once deer season is over, I’m ready for spring!) More activities for my family and the hunting and fishing opportunities are vast. It is here that I continue in my efforts to produce the finest, highest quality, most life-like wildlife art possible. I believe it is my attention to the finest details and commitment to customer service that keeps my clients coming back year-after-year. If you’re looking for your first taxidermist, or have used several different ones in the past, I’d like to offer my services to you. Please give me a call/email for more info. Thank you for your time.

Good Hunting!
Gary Aittama

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