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A Word from Tom Matuska

I started my taxidermy business out of my home in 1973, because of my love of nature and the art of taxidermy. It was my lifelong dream to be a taxidermist and perfect the finished product for my customers. In 1984, I founded the Northwest Iowa School of Taxidermy, beginning with two students. Through this course, students have learned a broad spectrum of mounting techniques covering birds, fish, game heads, large and small life-size mammals and rugs. Students also learn about the business of taxidermy including pricing, record keeping, and successful marketing. I am proud of the nine-week training program where students are offered broad range of experiences. The school is connected to our studio and live pens, which allow our students to learn in various settings. The training is intense, but we allow our students to have firsthand experiences to become successful taxidermists. If you are considering taxidermy, take time to look at our site and the quality products produced through our studio. I have produced award winning products and have passed the knowledge to my students to continue the tradition of excellence in taxidermy. If you are in Spirit Lake, Iowa, stop by our studio and visit our family run business. – Tom Matuska

Western Regional Recap

Recently Tom and Vicki traveled to Gillette, Wyoming to represent the Matuska Taxidermy Supply Company at the Western Regionals. This show hosted taxidermist from 9 states and some really impressive work. Exceptional large life-size and gameheads made up the majority of the over 200 entries in addition to some fine fish and bird entries. The highlight of our booth seemed to be the new “Sage Brush Series” mulie manikins as well as the “Great American Bear” forms. Vicki hosted the children’s seminar and several budding wildlife artists made some really fancy artificial wood duck head key chains. Although plenty of reference was available, most leaned to a more abstract version.
The winners of the Matuska Taxidermy “Golden Eagle Competitors’ Award” was Todd Kranau from Nebraska in the Masters Division and Ross Richards from Utah in the Professional Division. This award goes to the competitor with the highest combined score with 4 mounts. Congratulations to both of these fine taxidermists.
A special thank you to all who participated in the Western Regionals and the warm hospitality we received. We cant wait to come back!

Vicki instructing the children’s seminar.

Ross Richard’s lions and a zebra winning entry.

Todd Kranau with his spectacular winning warthog.

Cecil : Our Two Cents

The killing of Cecil The Lion is unfortunate, however, there are two sides to every story. Over 15,000 Americans travel to Africa to hunt each year. This brings in hundreds of millions of dollars every year. This is essential to the economy of many African nations. When done legally, the money is put back into the conservation of these animals propagating both herd health as well as numbers. To ban big game hunting could lead to worse affects to many parties including taxidermists around the world. Taxidermists view these animals as majestic and preserve their beauty and memory for many to see for years to come. Our industry is heavily regulated and held to a lawful standard so we would hope that any taxidermist would act in the most ethical way with the preservation of these animals. These trophies are not only showcased in homes but studios, nature centers and museums to list a few. An impact on big game hunting also affects the animals themselves. Just as deer or bird hunting in the U.S. is not only for food and the sport but is a necessary conservation practice, hunting in Africa is no different. People have been hunting both large and small game since the beginning of time and has benefited all parties involved.


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Matuska’s BIGGEST News!

New for 2015, our two new additions to the Matuska Taxidermy Supply Company are Quinn McKenna born to Mandy and Brent Swart in December and Madden Thomas born to Marc and Emily Matuska in January. Tom says they are happy and healthy, squirmy and smelly. They are truly little gifts from God and it will be very fun to watch them grow. What more can a grandma and grandpa ask for?


Celebrity Project

Early June found the taxidermists at the Matuska Taxidermy Studio hard at work on a celebrity project.

Cisco, the original horse ridden by actor Kevin Costner in the movie “Dances With Wolves” succumbed to old age at the age of 33. As a fitting tribute to this noble creature, Cisco’s owners hired Marty Hansen from Hansen’s Taxidermy in Phillip, South Dakota, as the taxidermist to complete the mount. Marty wasted little time in enlisting the help of the Matuska Taxidermy Studio and the extra hands of Tom Matuska and Amber Gonnerman to help with this monumental task. The manikin underwent major alterations to both pose and size until the perfect attitude and fit was achieved. Cisco’s final journey will be to the original 1880 Town in South Dakota.


Matuska Taxidermy Studio

When not instructing, the taxidermists at the Matuska Taxidermy Studio can be found hard at work on customer mounts. With the effects of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD, throughout the midwest many taxidermists found deer numbers to be down. For the Matuska Taxidermy Studio, this was an opportunity to begin some overdo projects including large life-size mounts and dioramas, lots of fish reproductions and several swans and cranes. Operating a taxidermy business in the Iowa Great Lakes always seems to result in a backlog of skin mount fish so that, too, keeps us busy. Even though our time seems to be often times too hectic, we continue to spend time enjoying our surrounding wildlife where we study Mother Nature in her element.