For Mike Schildt, new owner of Rut & Strut Taxidermy & Deer Processing, going to work in the morning is like play for this avid huntsman.
"I've always been into hunting and fishing," said Schildt who acquired the 21-year-old business in January from its previous owner, Steve Bishop, who also taught him the trade. "It's just a way for me to make a living off of something I love to do. I just come out and play here."
Primarily in the business of mounting turkeys and deer, hence the name Rut & Strut, Schildt estimated that he spends between 10 and 12 hours on a single shoulder mount.
Schildt said the preparation process of skinning the animals and cleaning and tanning their hides takes up most of the time. The actual mounting process, where the hide is slipped over a pre-made Styrofoam model, typically takes only three to four hours.
Schildt said turnaround time for deer shoulder mounts and turkey mounts is around three to four months. During the months of hunting season from September through December, Schildt said the turnaround time stretches into a year. He advised hunters to call him to find out if he can mount their animal. Schildt said he does not mount pets.
"We get calls on a lot of things," said Schildt, pointing to a mounted wildebeest from Africa as an indication of the diversity of animals Rut & Strut can handle.
Schildt charges $350 for a deer mount. Depending on the pose desired by customers, turkeys are between $525 and $675 he said.
European-style mounts featuring just the antlers and skull mounted onto a panel are $95. An antler mount is $45. Tanned hides are $95 a piece. A 50 percent deposit is required before any work will begin.
"We're going to start doing fish," Schildt said. "Right now I'm just doing them for friends to build up my skill."
Rut & Strut also offers meat processing for your freshly killed game. Steak, ground roast, jerky and sausage can all be made on-site. Depending on the size of the deer, meat processing will cost between $55 and $90 Schildt said.