HOPKINS, Mich. -- If Allegan County is looking for a new slogan, they can now go with “Home of the World’s Best Taxidermist.”
Terry Weick of Weick’s Taxidermy in Hopkins was recently crowned the Master of Masters at the bi-annual World Taxidermy Championships, an honor that is as unique as it is esteemed.
“These people are from all over the country as well as around the world so it’s quite a prestigious award,” Weicks said, speaking to FOX17 from a small workshop and showroom behind his home.
Taxidermy was much more than just a hobby for Weick. Picking it up when he was just 11 years old, Weick self-taught himself much of the necessary skills that come with the craft. For 30 years, he’s been professionally stuffing and mounting anything that walks, crawls, slithers or swims – and he’s never turned down a project.
Weicks views taxidermy more as an art form than a hobby, and one look at his pieces prove him right. Although well-crafted molds have made the job easier over the years, Weick is one of a few that will take extra steps to ensure authenticity. Whether it’s spending ten hours getting the eye socket of a caribou just right, or hand painting over hundreds of individual scales on a fish, Weick says it’s a labor of love for him and fir his customers who often have to wait months to get their lifelike finished product.
“[Customers] have an expectation when they come in here so to see them happy is the very best feeling you can get,” he said. “I've had people almost do somersaults, I’ve had people cry, it’s pretty humbling.”
Not only is Weick an avid animal lover, he’s also a multi-form artist. His background sculpting, painting, woodworking and welding have played large roles in his ability to hone his world-class taxidermy skills.
“It’s very labor intensive,” he said. “I’m talking hundreds of hours going into a single piece.”
In a given year, Weick will fill between 150-200 separate orders. Typically, it takes him between 12-20 hours to complete a deer (the animal he works with most frequently), and up to 40 hours to complete bigger animals like moose, or more intricate species like fish.
“You never know what I’m going to get in,” Weick said. “It’s relaxing for me.”
Weick will head down to North Carolina to judge a taxidermy competition in North Carolina next week. For more info on Weick's Taxidermy check out their Facebook page.