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Montana taxidermist's attention to detail results in national championship award

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Posted at 5:52 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 19:52:36-04

WISDOM — When Wisdom taxidermist Scott Lula entered a national competition for taxidermy in Sioux Falls in July, he didn’t have high expectations.

“I’d never competed before and I thought, if nothing else, it’d be a good learning experience because that’s what it’s all about anyhow. The wife and I walked up to the table and say a blue ribbon sitting there and I’m like, ‘oh, you got to be kidding me,’” said Lula.

His reproduction of a shovelnose sturgeon made him a national champion on his first try, proving that his many years of experience have taught him plenty about the art.

“I started taxidermy when I was 12 years old, my uncle did taxidermy and I was always enthused going down into his basement and seeing all the stuff,” said Lula.

He runs his business, called Anglers Cast, from a small workshop just south of Wisdom. Scott specializes in fish, which he says is the most challenging subject. He can do skin mounts, which use an actual fish.

However, in this time when more people practice catch-and-release, Scott does more reproductions. This requires his clients to send him detailed photos of the fish they caught.

“Everybody’s holding up a fish. I don’t want to see your smiling face, I want to see the fish up close, I want to see the scale detail, take pictures of the segments of the body,” said Lula.

The goal is to make these reproductions come to life.

“You’re locking a moment in time, what that fish is doing at that particular moment, your freezing it in freeze-frame and to capture that essence, it’s not easy,” he said.

It’s really about attention to detail. Scott actually paints every scale on the west slope cutthroat. You’d think after 25 years of experience he’d know everything about taxidermy, but you’re wrong. He’s humble. He says he learns every day.

“The day you quit learning is the day you might as well pack it up and do something else. It’s a never-ending process. The thing with the art of taxidermy, you go as far as your imagination wants to, you can create whatever you want or how you can imagine it to try to make it correct with nature, but you can do anything … or try to,” said Lula.

A timeless art that takes a lifetime to master.