Art Meets Taxidermy
By Olivia Johnson
For Dustin Harrie of Grand Island, the goal of taxidermy is recreating that special moment for the hunter or fisherman. Within the last three years, he has taken this goal to the next level.
Dustin's unique focus is creating diorama-style display cases for his customers. These enclosed cases filled with habitat and a detailed backdrop have the potential to transform a basic mount into a piece of art. Inside he uses a combination of taxidermy, recreated natural elements and photography to create a personalized feel catered to the customer's experience.
Harrie's interest in taxidermy has always been present. At the age of 15 he completed his first pheasant, and then went on to complete a program at the Northwest Iowa School of Taxidermy. He has been active in the business for 12 years.
Competitive taxidermy sparked Harrie's idea to branch out and try this different take on the process. The level of creativity he observed at the shows and his opportunities to work with champion taxidermists inspired his own innovation. "Before these cases I didn't really have a way to convey my own thoughts on taxidermy," he stated. "I wanted to create an interest for those who wouldn't typically be interested in taxidermy."
Harrie has a few favorite ways to recreate experiences, including mimicking the weather situation, such as a foggy morning or a snowy day, and also adding additional wildlife in the backdrop photo. He says it's possible to add photos of hunting buddies or a favorite bird dog in the backdrop. He works with professional photographers to obtain his background photos, but it's always a possibility to have a photo taken of a specific area, such as a favorite hunting spot. Since memories come as varied as their holders, there's never a definitive way of how these cases are designed.
But telling a story isn't the only perk these displays have over more basic mounts. Maintenance and cleaning are as painless as possible – a little glass cleaner and dusting is all that's needed. The cases are also closed and sealed, preventing the specimens from exposure to the elements. The display is free from dust, therefore it will continue looking new far longer than traditional taxidermy would allow.
Dustin Harrie describes himself as someone who is always learning, and that is what continually helps him improve his business. As he continues to learn more about photography he is constantly stricken with new ideas on how to design displays. "You can't always be there when that moment happens," he said, "but there's a lot you can do to create that experience, especially with avid photography, quality taxidermy, and good woodwork. The sky's the limit."
As long as outdoor enthusiasts have stories to go along with what they bring in, Dustin Harrie's displays will bring irreplaceable memories to life.
To contact Dustin Harrie via email email@example.com via phone at 308-370-1943