By Doug Reardon
DAWSON, GA -- Dead animals may not sound appealing to you, but for Brad Henry of H&H Taxidermy in Dawson, it’s a way of life.
Chances are if you’ve been to a local bar, a hunting lodge, or an outdoorsy friend’s living room, you’ve found yourself staring at the head of some beast that once dwelled in the wild. And if it was around here, there’s a good chance it was Brad’s handy work.
But the obvious question – one Brad gets asked quite often – is how does one find themselves in this line of work?
“I’ve always been artistic,” Brad told us. “Me and a buddy bought a bunch of equipment and tried it and just led from there.”
It wasn’t far off from Brad’s old gig guiding hunting trips on local plantations. There, he helped hunters track and kill their prey. His job as a taxidermist helps those same hunters, bring those same animals back to life. That’s the part Brad enjoys the most.
“The finished product,” he said. “bringing something back to life.”
But for as real as many of Brad’s finished products look, the truth is, not much of them are. Brad uses molds made from foam to recreate the animal’s body, sealing on the pelts with an adhesive paste similar to glue. It depends on the animal, he says, but for the most part, only the skins and antlers are real when it comes to deer.
“For deer you’ve got glass eyes, and the insides are all foam,” he said. “Really only the fur is real. But for birds, pretty much everything but the eyes are real.”
Brad’s success in recreating animals from all walks of life is stunning; and he said he does it all by trial and error.
“I keep some stuff from years back and look at them. And I can tell how bad they were.”
But for Brad nowadays, his joy lays in bringing life, back to the lifeless.
“Maybe it’s the artist in me,” he said. “I’m never satisfied with anything that comes out of here. But it’s not really a job. Sometimes it is – but I don’t look at it much like a job anymore.”