12th European Open Taxidermy Championships

If you follow BookYourHunt.com, you know that we love high-quality taxidermy. This is why we cover taxidermy issues in our blogs, e.g. having your African trophies fixed by African taxidermists versus “dip-and-shipping” them to a studio near home, and application of modern 3D printing technology. This is why we have a special partnership program for taxidermists, which a number of first-class studios are already enjoying with mutual success. And this is why it was an honor for us to become the Diamond Sponsor of the 12th Open European Taxidermy Championship®.  

In addition to the sponsorship of the championship, BookYourHunt.com offered a special prize, in the category that evaluated mounts created by a partnership of different artists. Bringing people together is our second name! And the mount that won our prize was… but let’s add a little suspense here and talk about the championship first. 

This year, the contest took place in the beautiful city of Budapest, the capital of Hungary, also known as “The Queen of the Danube”. Hunting is an essential part of Hungarian life and culture. In September 2021 Budapest hosts the One With Nature International Hunting Exhibition that is expected to attract up to a million of spectators.

Hunting opportunities in Hungary start from the most affordable and accessible to an average citizen, and reach out to the highest levels of development of the hunting industry, with preserves that trace their heritage to the Austro-Hungarian Empire offering fabulously abundant pheasant and partridge hunts, as well as outstanding trophies of red, roe and fallow deer, mouflon and wild boar. Is there a better place to host a taxidermy contest?

Taxidermy, however, reaches well beyond preparation of hunting trophies. It is an art that has a great cultural and scientific significance in itself, as it enables to preserve the creatures that may otherwise be lost for humanity. Who haven’t seen animal groups in natural science museums – the groups that, if properly executed, tell you more in one glance than a scientific paper, groups, that you may stand next to for hours admiring every little detail? 

Taxidermy is used to preserve specimens of rare and vanishing creatures that are not an object of legal hunting, but, for example, died of natural causes in a zoo, or killed in a traffic accident. Among the objects of taxidermist art entered in the Championship were numerous non-game birds and animals, such as seagulls and hawks, as well as fish and domestic cattle (some of the breeds of which may also face extinction as vegan and animal rights agenda is winning more and more voters). 

Last but not least, an exciting branch of taxidermy is reconstruction of species that, like the cave lion, have long been extinct. Not quite that old dusty deer head on the wall! 

Cave Lion (Panthera spelaea) Reconstruction by Ari Puolakoski, Finland. Award of Excellence and First Place at The 10th Open European Taxidermy Championships® 2015, Oulu, Finland

You already see what responsibility lies on the taxidermists who are working for scientific purposes – a small mistake may form an incorrect perception of the animal that might negatively influence viewers and science for years to come. This is why taxidermists must get together and compare their skills. The Championship was, however, much more than the contest. 

The championship took place over a span of a week. This was necessary not only to give many spectators an opportunity to view the art, but also to run numerous seminars. All in all the entrants could participate in up to twenty educational events, with topics ranging from reproduction of extinct animals to sculpting the bodies from the most modern as well as old-school materials, and from creating background plants to fine nuances of chemicals used in skin preservation. 

A panel of 12 judges, all recognized taxidermists, owners of their own studios and winners of multiple contests, evaluated entries in a number of categories. Some of the categories were designed to compare the participants’ skills, rather than their clients’ luck. In the “Live Birds and Mammals” category, for instance, the entries had to replicate a model taxidermic mount as close as possible. The Transformation Challenge required the contestants to work from photographs. Choosing either a pine marten or a feral pigeon (or both) they needed to get the mount as close to the pose shown on photographs as they could. 

The judges and the winners of BookYourHunt.com special award for taxidermy

The judges gave each of the entries a certain number of points, but even the mounts that didn’t get the maximum points could still claim a prize. The participants competed also for as many as 19 special awards, with cash prizes totalling 8,000 Euro. Examples of such awards included Best Novice in Mammals, the European Fish Taxidermy Award, Mount Medix Award for “entries with 2 or more mammals/birds/fish/reptiles that interact with each other in a natural and expressive way”, and more. Click here for the full ranking list.

The BookYourHunt.com special award was given for the most impressive and well designed piece in the Collective Artists division. We required an amazing mix between craftmanship and art, and the choice was independent from score (although a minimum of 80 points must have been reached). The winner was chosen by 2 judges appointed by us, and the prize was diplomas, special ribbons, and €1000. 

Our special judges selected a mount representing the species that some people name the animal of the year 2020: bats. 

The image shows a taxidermy mount of a group of bats that won the BookYourHunt.com special prize at the 12th Open Euro Competition
The winning mount

Before you accuse us of sensationalism, the pandemic didn’t come into it. Well, maybe just a little. But jury is still out on the bats as the origin of COVID-19, and, even more importantly, the bat represents a great challenge for a taxidermist, due to its unusual anatomy and diminutive size. If you flip through the Hall of Fame gallery of the European Taxidermy Championship, you’ll see that the bats figure prominently among the winners of previous championships, held well before coronavirus. 

The winning artists, Berend Koch and Jonas Lammerschmitd, both of Germany, actually gained a respectable number of points, 92, placing just under the winner of the category. This is an outstanding work of two great professionals. We’re proud to be able to support these wonderful artists, and hope that this recognition of their success will motivate them to even higher achievements. Actually, we’re all doing the same job: creating happy memories for hunters and anglers. Congratulations, and here’s to many new memories to come!

If you’re a taxidermist and are interested in our partnership program, please contact us at support@bookyourhunt.com 

If you’re a hunter who wants to make more memories, feel free to browse through the thousands of hunts on our website. 

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