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.
I am going to dieknew
Please don’t let anyone in my family die, please don’t let me die
This is how a coyote’s shoulder works
Please let me understand, please make me ready, please make me not afraid
More in this series
Inside his sewing box was an old girlfriend’s felt heart, stuck with pins. Throw it out, he says. I don’t.