Gift-giv­ing sea­son got off to an early start.

Field and Stream - - CONTENTS -

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.

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