Coalville man turns African wildlife into timeless art
On Main Street in Coalville there’s a brand new brown stucco building across from Moore’s Tires and The Main Street Huddle cafe.
The façade is new but the business is 15 years old. That doesn’t mean it’s not full of surprises.
Go in the side door on the right and an upside-down, 16-foot crocodile from Ethiopia lays waiting to be glued.
Dean Schulte’s High Uintas Taxidermy specializes in preserving exotic safari animals.
The new building is about quadruple the size of the previous one, but after renovating several times in the last 10 years, Schulte decided it was time to build a full facility.
"I’ve been conservative about growing and have just tried to get by, but we finally reached that point. It’s a helluvalot more than I wanted to do," he said.
Even though Schulte is surrounded by sportsmen, most of his business comes from safari hunters he’s networked with at big game shows over the years.
About 60 percent of his clients are around the country, with the other 40 percent spread across the state. This is evidenced by the variety of animals being glued and sewn up around the shop.
Schulte is largely self-taught, which has forced him to find his own solutions to problems. This has come in handy as he’s had to figure out the best ways to preserve crocodiles and animals from Canada to New Zealand.
"It comes down to real world problem solving," Schulte said. "If I can solve problems, I can get along in this business, especially on the artistic side of things."
Schulte gets a lot of his business through the mail. Hunters send him their trophies and he turns them into pieces of art and sends them back. In this way, he’s avoided a lot of the economic woes that can hit small-town businesses, he explained.
Hunters with enough money to go on safaris can afford his services. Further, they usually come home with a dozen pieces of game for him to work on. This enhances the amount of business he gets from a single sale.
Employee Josh Hunt came to work for Schulte from Pennsylvania. Hunt said he loves how taxidermy gets the artist involved in the outdoors and with animals. He was excited to come out West.
"I have a degree in zoology and was pre-med, but I wanted to do something I enjoy. This is artistic as well, so it’s a good combination," he said.
Nick Allen grew up in the area and started doing taxidermy as a hobby.
"I like the challenge of it, trying to get everything to look like the real thing," he said.
The crocodile near the side door is maybe the 10th or 11th Schulte has done, he said. But the others were never that big. The Ethiopian croc is estimated to be about 80 years old. After starting in a 20 by 20 foot-building, Schulte said he’s excited to have the space and staff to work on these projects.
"It’s just something I started in childhood, then dropped, then picked up again in adulthood," he said.
High Uintas Taxidermy
31 Main Street Coalville
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