Utahn with talent for taxidermy named ‘Best in World’ at international competition

Posted at 9:54 PM, May 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-20 23:54:43-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- From buffalo, to deer, to bears--if you can hunt it, Dave Ferguson of Ogden can mount it, and nobody is better.

This month Ferguson won “Best in World” in two categories at the World Taxidermy Competition in Missouri. There were more than 700 entries from 16 different countries.

Ferguson, with the help of his bobcat, won first prize in two categories: “Best Mounted Small to Medium Mammal” and “Best Live Sculpture.”

"It's an intense competition, guys really get into it and strive for years and years to try to attain a 'Best in World' title," Ferguson said. "I'm really fortunate to win two at that show. Taxidermy has really been elevated to an art form, most people just think of a deer head stuffed on the wall and it's not, it's a precise trade.”

Through the magic of Styrofoam, super glue, and an expertise in Zoology, Ferguson brings back to life an average of 150 animals a year. They range from Utah deer and elk, to Alaskan grizzly bear, to zebras and elephants all the way from Africa.

The BYU graduate said it’s how you portray the faces of these animals that makes you the best of the best.

"That the eyelashes are aligned, that the eyes are perfectly focused, whiskers are in nice even rows," Ferguson said. "They get right down to the magnifying glasses and flashlights in the nostrils, it's pretty technical so you have to know that animal from the inside structure on out."

However, it has never been about awards for Ferguson. It’s about preserving the memory of these animals forever.

“Starting from scratch, from a bag of bones and have it come out and look like the animal its supposed to, that’s really satisfying, and having the customer pick up his deer and just love it,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson said every animal he mounts was hunted legally.