A long-time taxidermist in northwest Missouri is expanding his hobby to a full-time business.

After forty years of service, Dave Pearson, owner of Pearson’s Taxidermy in Savannah, will open his shop this season to hunters year-round.

With a passion for hunting and fishing, the taxidermy work that a cousin was doing caught his eye at the age of 12. He took the Elwood Northwest School of Taxidermy course that year which was the only material that was available on the subject of taxidermy at the time.

Pearson has since created taxidermy of waterfowl, upland birds, fish and mammals, such as deer, with the goal of preserving the animal.

In 1980, he also completed a degree in biology from Missouri Western State University.

He has expanded into an uncommon market by forming the manikins used by taxidermists to create the animal mounts through the use of clay sculpture.

“Where that manikin comes from is somebody at some point in time sculpted a clay model of the carcass of that animal,” said Pearson. “That’s done by skinning the dead animal and taking 100 carcass measurements and then you reconstruct the skeleton structure in whatever position you want the animal to be. After that, you apply clay to it so you’re sculpting in all the meat and muscle details in order to make a mold. The clay is then taken out and put back together and a two-part extending foam is used to fill it and you’re left with a light-weight manikin.”

Pearson plans to sell the sculptures to established suppliers for use by other taxidermists.

He said the art of taxidermy has changed over the years in technique and materials used which has increased the quality of the mounts.

“Back in the early days, a manikin would be made with a lamination of paper and glue to make a form,” said Pearson. “Now taxidermy materials have really improved and we use two-part expanding foam.”

The creation and growth of taxidermy groups has also allowed for seminars to be held as part of the Missouri Taxidermy Association and the National Taxidermy Association.

Pearson has competed in competitions as part of the organizations and won best all-round mount in Kansas three times and earned the best Missouri whitetail for a doe.

“When many people look at taxidermy of deer, they tend to just look at the antlers,” said Pearson. “But the taxidermy work itself is from the antlers down so you’re being judged on how anatomically correct your mount is and you’re being judged based on quality.”

For more information, contact Dave Pearson at 816-324-0089 or visit www.facebook.com/pearsonstaxidermy.

Margaret Slayton can be reached at npsports@newspressnow.com.