I have been doing taxidermy full-time since 1968, when I began working for my brother-in-law, a local taxidermist in Wisconsin. I started a formal apprenticeship in 1969 and studied with a retiring taxidermist when I moved to Minnesota in 1972 and started Barr Taxidermy. Most of what I know I have learned through 46 years of practice. I have honed my craft through thousands of deer and fish and hundreds of most everything else.
Taxidermy is not like buying a TV. Every mount is unique, and so is every taxidermist. I have learned over these many years to emphasize eyes and use them to bring the mount to life, and I spend more time on eyes than anything else. You can do everything else right, but if the eyes are wrong it will look wrong. Study, practice, and experience are what make the eyes right.
I have had up to 5 people working for me at various times, until figured out don’t like that. Rather than being a manager, I’m a hands-on taxidermist now. I make sure every mount is the way I want it and meets your expectations.
I started doing African work almost immediately upon arrival in Minnesota, and have developed a handful of key clients who have been with me for decades. I have done close to 1000 mounts for my top five clients over the past 40 years.
Minnesota Taxidermy Guild (past Vice President)
Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS) (past Board of Directors)
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Minnesota Deer Hunters Association
Safari Club International
I grew up in the country. Our house was on the Rock River in Janesville Wisconsin, and as a kid I fished off the end of our dock nearly every day.
My lifelong passion for bowhunting started at the age of 10. I got my first bow because my dad wouldn’t let me have a gun, and I hunted carp with my bow from a boat. My mentor in bowhunting was a neighbor and local character who taught me how to shoot and built a passion that remains to this day.
My future brother-in-law was the taxidermist I studied with from 1969-1972. But long before that, he took my on my first deer hunt as a teenager in Wisconsin. In my early 20s, he took me on my first out-of-state hunt to Ontario to hunt bear. Around that same time, I shot my first deer with a bow at Camp Ripley in Minnesota. Most of my hunts since then have been with a bow.
My favorite animal to hunt is elk. I like the act of calling, getting a response, and slowly closing the distance. My next favorite is deer, because of the challenge they represent. They hear everything, smell everything, and see everything. Despite my youth spent fishing off the dock, I eventually stopped fishing to devote extra time to other hunts, including bear, turkey, antelope, caribou, ducks, geese, and pheasants.
I have hunted in 15 states across the US: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. I have hunted across Canada in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories.
If money were no object, I would continue to hunt big North American game (sheep, goats, and bear), and probably hunt in Africa as well. The biggest appeal to hunting sheep is the allure of the mountains, and time spent in the back country wilderness is just as appealing as the hunt itself.