A Clay County resident recently beat the stuffing out of the competition at a statewide taxidermy show.
Larry Shaw, who operates the Autumn Oaks Taxidermy shop with his wife Becky just outside their hometown of Cory, made an overwhelmingly impressive debut appearance at the annual "Association for Indiana Taxidermists" show in Columbus, Ind. last weekend.
Shaw took home first place awards for Best Turkey in the Professional Division and for a deer mount in the Commercial Division. Shaw also took home the award for Best in Show in the professional division for his turkey mount. The Best in Show covered all entry types, which included birds, game hen, fish and mammal.
After practicing taxidermy for years, Shaw said it was rewarding to gain the approval of the industry's upper tier.
"It's great to get the recognition from a professional in the business," Shaw said. "I'm confident in my work, but being judged by a professional who doesn't know me and won't look at my work with any bias is great."
Shaw has been practicing taxidermy for years. He started work on the Autumn Oaks shop while on a 60-day voluntary leave from the MI window shop in Brazil, and opened it full time after the plant closed. The shop has been open for two years.
Shaw said he was encouraged to enter the competition by friends and customers. Perhaps fearing apprehension on the part of her husband, Becky Shaw entered her husband into the competition herself and informed him of her actions via telephone call. Though he said he believed he would have placed his own entry form, Shaw was grateful for his wife's assertiveness.
Shaw said he wouldn't hesitate to enter the competition in 2010. He was given a critique sheet after the competition this year, and said he would study the areas where he has room for improvement in order to produce an even higher quality entry for next year.
And while Shaw was happy to receive such personal attention, the competition seemed to serve greater vindication to him as a businessman.
"It reassures me I'm giving my customers a quality product," Shaw said. "I didn't spend anymore time on (my award winning pieces) than I do on any customer jobs."