Gift-giving season got off to an early start.
LATELY, THERE’S BEEN AN annoying echo in my office, and I blame it on the lack of heads on the walls. Long story short: Come January, the F&S editorial team will be in a new workspace. And while I welcome the change of scenery, one downside is that I won’t have the space I’ve gotten used to— enough room to display seven Euro mounts, a bearskin rug, and a few ducks. And that’s just my collection; wild totems from other editors were on display as well. As I write this, the only one of mine still hanging is the skull of my first elk. Otherwise, it’s empty in here—hence the echo.
Deciding where to relocate those trophies has been a process. A few favorites have taken up residence in my apartment, while some others are in storage in my mom’s basement—waiting for the day when my wife and I finally pull the trigger on an upstate cabin. But I didn’t like the idea of everything going into storage; that just didn’t feel right. So I decided to find new homes for the rest. I asked friends and family if they were interested. Some were but didn’t have the space. Others politely declined. In the end, two of my brothers and a good friend each received a whitetail skull, and my muley mount went to a buddy I’ve known since kindergarten. It was hard to see these go, but if I’m being honest, I didn’t look at, or obsess over, them as much as I used to. Plus, the idea of their hanging on new walls with renewed life and fresh appreciation trumped any doubts I might’ve had in giving them away.
As I boxed each up, I relived moments of the hunt and recalled the Christmas-morning excitement of the day when the mount arrived. Next to a license and tag, it’s hard to imagine a more satisfying delivery than taxidermy. I knew how excited my brothers and friends were to get the mounts I sent them, and it was fun to picture their reactions when each big box arrived.
By the time you read this, I’ll be thinking about heading home for the holidays, and while there I’ll visit my brothers and friends. I can hardly wait to see how the mounts look in their homes. The trophies no longer belong to me, but the wild memories that echo from their bones and horns always will.
Before and AfterThe Euro mount from my first pronghorn is one of a few treasured favorites that now hang in my home.