Local Taxidermist Insight
Ever wonder what its like to be a taxidermist? Here's some insight into the life and times of a local taxidermist creating items like Bearskin Rugs.
For 34 years, Jeffrey Sweet has done exactly what he loves. The Saugerties native opened his self-named taxidermy studio on Route 32 after developing a boyhood interest in the ancient art of preparing, stuffing and mounting of animal skins. But ask him how it all began and he’s not entirely certain himself. “I get that question all the time,” Sweet said. “I don’t know. I just like the wildlife. I bought my first taxidermy book when I was 8 or 9 years old.” Sweet started as a self-taught taxidermist, though he didn’t do it professionally until completing a three-month course at the American Institute of Taxidermy in Janesville, Wisconsin. “It was just enough time to teach you to get into trouble,” Sweet said. Sweet has a collection of his own mounts – roughly 175 of them, including a scene with a hyena chasing a pair of baboons – but the great majority of his work is done on assignment. “I mount trophies for hunters,” he said. “Occasionally I’ll have a piece, like if a guy is building a log cabin but doesn’t hunt, he might want a bearskin rug.” Sweet’s taxidermy business isn’t just local, either. He’s showcased his work at his profession’s World Show and the New York State Show, often using pieces from his hunting trips around the United States and Europe as well as Africa, where he’s gone 14 times and is planning another trip for later this year. He and his wife, Ivone, also book hunting trips to Africa.
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