Cover Photo: photo courtesy of the author
photo courtesy of the author

Taking Care With Broken Things: How I Came to Practice Ethical Taxidermy

“I imagined that spending so much time with a dead thing might make death more understandable.”

I’m working on a full-body mount of a coyote. I began practicing taxidermy four years ago. I practice “ethical taxidermy,” which means I don’t kill things in order to mount them; instead, I pick up things that are already dead. Most of my collection is roadkill—I keep gloves, garbage bags, and a bone saw in my trunk in case I come across something worth saving. (Picking up roadkill is illegal in California, where I live, but I don’t consider it unethical.) Even in the worst cases, something can usually be saved: a bone; a bit of fur that I can make into jewelry, or maybe save to patch another damaged body.

photo courtesy of the author

I am going to dieknew

Please don’t let anyone in my family die, please don’t let me die

photo courtesy of the author

This is how a coyote’s shoulder works

Please let me understand, please make me ready, please make me not afraid

photo courtesy of the author

Writer for The Awl, The Toast, The Rumpus, McSweeney's, PANK, The Nervous Breakdown, and so on. I'm working on a book about occultism, Halloween, and LA's weird, wonderful San Fernando Valley.