I sometimes wonder if my mother realized how the decisions she helped me make when I was young and still in school would have defined my walk in life.  They have dramatically done just that.  Travis Taxidermy got its start through a mail order course from the North Western School of Taxidermy while I was still in high school.  The diploma I received November 1968 still hangs on my wall and was the beginning of a trade and art form that has served me well in life.  She was responsible with encouraging me to try the course.  This encouragement from her and my uncle Dick kept me driven and to get it “Right”!  Slowly my skills grew and my hobby followed with me into college.  Again her financial support and willingness to allow me to give college a try was a valuable building block in my life.  The degree from Penn State University as a Wildlife Technician went hand in hand with my interest in hunting and mounting animals.  It ultimately led to a career job with the Remington Arms Company as a wildlife technician and guide at Remington Farms in Chestertown, Maryland.  My hobby in taxidermy grew through those years.  Constantly working in the field and helping with various wildlife graduate programs allowed me to deepen my love of the outdoors and to sharpen my artistic eye.  I also started attending competitions that were held in conjunction with college mini courses.  At these min courses, state and national champion taxidermist shared their knowledge of specific species.  Take 5 classes in 3 days and you walk away with your head spinning with volumes of new information, new techniques, and new ideas, do that 10 years in a row and things start getting sharper and sharper.  The constant sharing of knowledge among taxidermist today is far different than in the past.  Secrets where seldom shared in earlier years.  It has been through the sharing of these new ideas that the taxidermy field has advanced to the art form that it is today.  Not just preservation of a trophy animal but a total piece of art.  Many pieces include habitat and action poses that leave the viewer with a feeling of being there in the field seeing these trophies in their natural environment.  Each trophy is unique and different.  Certain poses show each individual’s best merits.  These things are discussed with customers today with all the seriousness of remodeling the kitchen!  They are built to last a lifetime.  As my skills developed more and more customers came from further away holding down two full time jobs was becoming a problem.  In 1985 my employer, (DuPont) offered an early retirement option for employees.  Travis Taxidermy suddenly became a full time reality.  We have grown every year since then and today Travis Taxidermy Inc. is now supporting 6 people full time.  We have been blessed with trophies to mount from around the world.  We have done mounts from as small as a day old duckling and flying squirrels to life size brown bears and muskoxen. The business is a constant challenge to figure out how to grow with the ever increasing volume.  My love of the business has never left and each day it is a joy to go to the studio to create mounts for sportsmen young and old alike.  It is a good feeling to create these mounts that allow our clients to relive the memories of the day a field for a lifetime. A job we don’t take lightly. Our show room is not unlike a small museum.  It is enjoyed daily by many people-hunters and non hunters, young summer camp children’s groups, to adult day care groups.  Just to think a few decisions made with the help of mom, and granddad starting me hunting, has lead to a lifelong love of outdoors and a career I have never grown tired of.
Written by Don Travis  
February 2006