Learning To Love The Goat

I tweeted this morning about something political. While I wouldn’t normally do that, I can also feel the sweet relief of having a voice that is heard by some people who might be like-minded.

 

This was my tweet: “When I was a kid we didn’t all get trophies just for participating.

Side Note: I also don’t attend violent riots when things don’t go my way”

 

Am I blaming the parents? Maybe. My personal experience is that if I attended violent riots every time something didn’t go my way, my Mother would scold me and shame me into growing up and being a mature adult who has some common courtesy.

Was my childhood something like a fairytale? Only if it was a realistic one that included low-income, abuse, divorce, near poverty, and leaving home at 16 years old. I guess if you like that type of fairytale then you could say I had a perfect childhood.

The difference is that I had a Mom who told me a few things about life without sugarcoating it. Here are her major talking points:

 

  1. You can be anything you want to be. But you have to work for it.
  2. There is never any excuse for being rude to anyone. Ever.
  3. If you’re not good at sports, find something else you’re good at and do that.
  4. You want a dog? That’s cute. Here’s a goat instead.

 

My reasons for telling you this is because it actually worked. I came from a very low income home, moved out when I was 16 years old, and I’ve worked hard to make my dreams come true. I lived in my car for a short time, I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum, I’ve traveled the world, and I’ve excelled at self-education because my school system failed to educate me enough as a child. In other words, I worked for it. Nothing was given to me by society, I didn’t inherit anything, and I most certainly didn’t stage a protest when something crushed my hopes and dreams of what I thought I wanted.

 

I know that there are a lot of good parents out there who might see their kids protesting in the streets and they wonder what they are thinking. Maybe the parents are out there protesting along with their kids. And maybe they don’t know any better. But I can see this culture developing in our society that scares me. It’s a primary reason why I don’t have any children of my own so far. I don’t know if I could explain this behavior properly to them without sugarcoating it. How do you tell a child that some people in the world will act this way, like spoiled children, but they aren’t allowed to because they should be better than that?

 

I want to reach out to the people who are protesting and rioting in the streets who feel like the recent election didn’t go their way. All of them feel offended. And none of them seem to be grateful for the rights and privileges that our country provides to them freely.

 

Instead of protesting or rioting, or holding up a sign and blocking traffic maybe they should go do something about it. Maybe they should educate themselves about politics and go run for public office so that they can make a difference in the world in a sophisticated way. Maybe they should write a letter to their local politicians about how they feel, or they should attend a town hall meeting to truly understand what is going on in their community. Maybe they should have actually voted for the candidate that they are rioting for.

It goes back to the talking points my Mom made years ago when I was a little girl. You can be anything you want to be, but you’re going to have to work for it.

If you want to change the world, be the change you want to see in the world. Don’t scream and throw a fit in the road like a spoiled rotten child. Don’t be rude to people who have their own issues in life just because their views don’t perfectly align with your own.

 

And if you’re wondering why I put #4 in that list of things my Mom said, about the goat, this is the point: Did I want a goat? No. Did I want a dog? Yes. But my Mom saw the benefit in giving me something that I didn’t want, but I could grow to love and accept. Did I riot in the streets when my Mom gave me a baby goat and I was embarrassed of what my friends would think? No, I taught that goat how to do tricks that a dog couldn’t even do. It turned out to be one of the coolest pets in town. I made the best of a situation that I didn’t think I had wanted to be in. And I would never have recognized the potential of that goat if I had protested and rioted over it just because I didn’t get my way.

The moral of the story: Train up your child in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

Top 5 Fishing Destinations

It’s no secret that I love to fish. Growing up in Oklahoma ensured that I was surrounded by fishing spots and stories of pond hopping from my friends. I can remember keeping a fishing pole and stink bait in the trunk of my first car, and then trying to explain the awful smell when my friends would ride with me. Snagging spoonbills was one of my favorite after-school activities. I preferred to fish instead of participating in organized sports.

Now that I’m an adult and fully capable of booking my own adventures, I spend a lot of time researching fishing locations around the world. Over the years I’ve been able to cross a few coveted destinations off of my bucket list, so I’ll count down the top five that I recommend you blow your budget on.

  • Bonefishing In Exuma

You’ve probably heard fishing fanatics say that bonefish are pound-for-pound the toughest fighting fish in the world. When you combine that with an 8 or 9 weight fly rod and sight casting on a bright sunny day in the islands, you’ll get fishing memories that will leave you speechless. I’ve had the privilege of fishing for them in a few different places, but there’s a reason why Exuma is the bonefish capital of the world. The fish are wild enough to be a challenge, but plentiful enough to give you chills. On a warm bright day you can see them glistening under the clear water while your local guide poles you around paradise. The first hookup will leave you wanting more. The last hookup will convince you to book your next trip without questioning it.

Lodging: Private homes can be rented at a fair price on the island.                                       Guide Service: exumabonefish.com (Drex Rolle)

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Julie McQueen with a bonefish from the waters of Exuma

  •  Redfish Anywhere

I know that some people think there are more exotic and exciting fish to go after, but fishing for reds is one of my favorites. I’ve fished for them in the Keys and also in Louisiana, and it’s fun for me because I like to watch their tails dancing on the water while they feed in the shallows. I get excited when I see them muddy up a little spot of water, and they’re plentiful year round for your fishing enjoyment. One of my favorite Redfishing trips was to Louisiana a couple years ago. We took our Hobie fishing kayaks out and absolutely wore the fish out. We also call them “red drum”, and they are usually marked with a black spot on their tail.

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Daniel Lee with a Louisiana Redfish

  • Fly Fishing for trout in an unnamed stream

We carry fly rods in the truck everywhere we go. Travel rods that break down are perfect for storing under the seat for those moments when you aren’t in a hurry to get somewhere and you find a perfect stream. As long as you have your fishing license, it’s easy to jump out of the truck and throw a fly into the current. Some of my best days have been spent creeping up on a bank and trying to catch tiny trout from streams that don’t have any names. I’m not very good at it, but I love the challenge of pulling little fish out of the water as it makes it’s way down from the mountains and to lower ground. Knowing that the little fish have probably never seen a human before just seems to make my day every time.

Recommended Streams: Little River Watershed in Gatlinburg TN,  Yampa River in Steamboat Springs CO, Elk River near Lynchburg TN

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Trout fishing on a fly rod in mountain streams in Tennessee

  • Tarpon Fishing In Boca Grande during Hill Tide

The largest fish I’ve ever caught was a tarpon. My second largest was also a tarpon. In Boca Grande we fish during Hill Tide every year. Not because it’s the only time to fish there for them, the fishing is actually good in that area for months out of the year. We like to go because it’s just incredible to see the thousands of tarpon making their way in and out of the Boca Grande Pass to feed on the crabs that have been flushed in. I love to see the boats lined up, the simultaneous hookups, people fighting fish that are bigger than some humans. My biggest one yet weighed in at 180lbs. I fought it for 45 minutes, which seemed like hours in the hot summer sun. We took photos, revived her and took her away from the shark infested waters of the pass, then watched as she swam back into her group. Catching tarpon is fun no matter where you go to do it. I just prefer the pilgrimage in June where I can watch people on every boat hooking up one these giants during a very special moon phase that we look forward to yearly.

Lodging: Gasparilla Inn (it’s a little pricey, but it’s also pet friendly…)                                      You can also rent a villa / apartment for a decent price on Boca Grande Island

Guide: Captain Steve Bowler

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Julie McQueen and Captain Steve Bowler with her 2015 tarpon in Boca Grande

  • Fly Fishing the Atikonak River in Newfoundland / Labrador at Riverkeep Lodge

A couple years ago we got an invite to fly to Newfoundland / Labrador for a fly-in fishing trip. It took us 4 flights to get to Wabash, then we loaded all of our gear onto a float plane that took us 100 miles away from the nearest civilization. Getting to Riverkeep Lodge was half of the fun. Fortunately, we arrived right in time for the caddis hatch. The Atikonak River has 5 species of fish, and they were all hungry. Using fly rods we managed to catch fish pretty much all day every day. The nights are short, so this gave us more than enough time to try every method. Trolling, roll casting, sight casting, blind casting… any way that we could think of to get fish on the line. By the end of our 6 day trip every piece of clothing we brought along had the distinct smell of fish slime. My hands were raw, my face was windburned, and I hopped back on the float plane knowing that I would be back for more someday.

Lodging: Riverkeep Lodge (family owned and operated by my friends Steve and Cathy Murray)  www.riverkeeplodge.com

Landlocked Salmon

This landlocked salmon was caught by Julie in the Atikonak River, Labrador.

 

I’m fortunate to be able to fish more often than most people. I know how lucky I am to have a job that requires that I go fishing a certain number of times per year. It brings me back to my roots in some ways, and it makes me realize that many of us end up back were we started in one way or another. Thankfully, I started off loving the outdoors from the edge of a pond with a fishing pole in my hand.

Stop Celebrating the Hate

Here is an all-to-common story for you…

Girl shoots animal. Girl posts pictures of animal on her social media. Girl gets harassed and threatened by anti hunting people. Girl screen grabs nasty comments, posts them on her social, and tags the anti hunter in the post. Comments ensue. The end, until it happens all over again tomorrow…

I’m not trying to sound like a salty old lady here, but I can remember the days when we were not so quick to use situations like this to get ahead. Is it right that anti hunters say these things and threaten us? No. Absolutely not. But these days it seems like hunters (mostly women) use this as a “right of passage” into the hunting industry. As soon as they begin receiving the threats and harassment from anti hunters, they post it quickly to let their peers know that they are now a famous hunting celebrity who is under attack.

I have some news for you… 

  1. It takes more than that to become a hunting celebrity.
  2. “Hunting Celebrity” is a silly term and shouldn’t even exist.
  3. People begin to lose sight of why they hunt, in exchange for the attention they receive for hunting and having a public platform.

Here is the flip side… I would stand guard outside of the home of any of my hunting peers to protect them from anti hunting clowns who want to harm them. I would serve happily as an armed guard to watch over a fellow hunter who was under attack. I’m not turning my back on anybody. But I am speaking out against hunters who just want the attention.

“Look at me! I got a death threat!” is becoming a common social media post. And I’m sad to say that most of them are females. We want ladies to feel more comfortable coming into the hunting world and feeling at ease around the campfire with us. We want more women and girls to join us in hunting for our food. But we don’t want to send the wrong message: That you have to have this drama to get recognized in the hunting industry, or that you have to post publicly every time someone says these terrible things to you.

Many of us get threats constantly that you never hear about. It’s not because we’re ashamed, scared, or embarrassed about it. It’s because we have better things to do than to glorify or magnify the situation. We go on about our day, we block, delete and ban the people who say those things, and we keep hunting and providing food for our families because it’s our way of life. Not because we get attention for doing so.

I know that in light of recent situations this might upset some people. But in my mind I’m envisioning a little girl who looks up to ladies who hunt and who have a large public platform. If I were a little girl I would be extremely intimidated by the death threats and terrible things that anti hunters say. Instead of posting these things and technically celebrating the hysteria that occurs in the comment sections below the post, maybe we should find a new way of approaching this. I don’t have all of the answers. I’m asking people to open their minds and collectively find a way to work through this for the benefit of our future hunters.

I’m not a salty old lady. I’ve just been toughened by the nasty things I’ve heard from anti hunters over the years, and I don’t want our youth, and the future of our hunting heritage, to become toughened too quickly. I want them to enjoy this culture of hunting, this wonderful privilege that we have, while they are still young and impressionable. They will learn all too soon about the negative and terrible things people will say to them in defense of the animals that we hunt. Let’s not celebrate that as a victory.

Passing the Buck

More and more hunters are going on “blind” dates with their spouse or loved one. Ground blinds, that is. Hunting together as a family has become one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and I believe that we can all agree that spending time outdoors with people whom you love is therapeutic. All couples have their own dynamic; while some are competitive and work to outperform their loved one, others will revel in the success of their spouse.

We recently had a situation come up while hunting in Texas that defined our entire relationship within a matter of minutes. Let me take you there…

My husband and I hunt together. Not just once in a while, but more like full time. We rarely spend a day in the woods without the other one because we run our production company together, and we also co-host a television show. On average, we spend about 250 days out of the year in the field hunting and filming. I booked a hunt for us in Texas to end our months long big game season for 2015. Imagine that, after hunting together nonstop for 3 months straight, we wanted to hunt together to “get away from it all”. We both bought licenses, we drove to an incredible (no fences) ranch in South Texas, and we decided that I could shoot the “Trophy Buck” that came with our package. He was fine with shooting a management buck, which means that anything with 8 points is fair game. The genetics on this piece of property is overrun with old 8 point bucks, and the management process is meant to clean that out a little bit. That being said, the genetics on this ranch are incredible and there are certainly some giants walking around in the brush.

On the first morning of our hunt, while sitting side by side in a ground blind together, I held onto my bow while Daniel Lee sat behind the camera. He brought his bow along just in case if a management buck happened to step out. At first light the deer began coming into the field in front of us. One magnificent buck walked out and we knew right away that he was dominant. He chased a doe around, he stomped at the other bucks, and he took over the entire food plot with his strong personality. While most people would have taken the shot as soon as they had enough light to see, I was uncertain. I knew that a trophy buck should be over 5 years old, and the guide told me that a 10 point or better was what I should watch for. I decided to pass. I judged this deer to be about 4 years old, and while he was very large in some ways, the smaller Texas body size had me confused. He was a very nice 9 point, and if he had produced that 5th point on the one side then my decision would have been easier.

I told my husband that he could shoot the deer. While I put my bow down and took the camera, he loaded an arrow and calmed his breathing. I filmed the deer, got a better look at him, and decided that maybe he was my trophy. I decided that I did want to shoot that buck. We switched everything again, camera, bows, and both of us calmed our breathing. When the deer stepped back out again, I could tell that my husband wanted that deer. I knew that it was probably considered a trophy, but I felt willing to forfeit my trophy buck so that my best friend, this wonderful man, could take it. Once again I told Daniel that I wasn’t going to shoot the deer. The look on his face was a mixture of joy and confusion. It was that look that husbands get on their face when they question their wife’s sanity. We quietly switched the camera, I put my bow down, he picked his up, and he waited for the perfect shot. In my head I kept telling myself that it was likely going to be considered a “trophy”, and that I was fine with that. I had made my decision.

I watched that beautiful buck out in front of us, clearly within bow range, and I thought about the moment that we were living in and the story that we were creating. It didn’t matter who shot that deer because my husband and I share a household. Either way it goes into our freezer. And sometimes watching someone whom you love in the act of doing what they love will bring you more joy than anything else in the world. In my heart I knew that I had just given him the trophy buck and that I would be shooting a smaller one. But the look on his handsome face after he made a perfect heart shot on that big brush country deer was all of the convincing I needed to know that I had made the right decision.

You see, in our home it’s not a competition. We don’t strive to out shoot, out hunt, or outdo each other in any way. We hunt as a team, just as we go through life as a team. The rewards we reap far outweigh the boost to our ego, and the stories we create are more meaningful because of the love that goes into them.

What would you do in this situation? Would you take the trophy even though you know it would make your spouse happy to have the opportunity? Or do you pass it over to them knowing that it would make their day, and that it would create a story that would live on forever in your hearts? Comment and let me know what your decision would be!

 

Trophy Photos – To Post Or Not To Post?

Somebody asked me an interesting questions through social media today. They wanted to know if we are saving the trophy photos and not showing them intentionally, and then we’ll show them next year when we release the show footage from this year.

I find this question really interesting for a few reasons.

  1. That’s actually brilliant. If I knew that some tv personalities were keeping their trophy photos hidden until the release of the episode, I would be more interested in watching that episode to see what happens. Once you’ve seen the trophy photo, you know the ending to the story.
  2. He might be right. On my social media I try to tell a compelling story through the photos that I post. It’s not always about the destination. My story is about the journey. We do harvest animals, but that’s not always the point to the story I’m trying to tell.
  3. This is why I love social media and how it connects all of us. Sure, I don’t have the largest following, but while some other people were building their social media world, I was busy building my real world. Now I’ve come to embrace Instagram, Facebook and Twitter because it connects me directly to the people who may want to hear my stories.

Maybe I’m not posting trophy photos constantly because I don’t want people to lose my message in the hype. Or maybe I don’t want to share those photos because they’re irrelevant to the storyline? If you scroll through my social media feed you’ll see some animal photos, but you’ll also see a lot more than that. You’ll see a lifestyle that revolves around the great outdoors, a hunting and fishing journey, and a girl who absolutely loves her life. You might also see some wild game recipes, beautiful scenery, and interesting places in the world. With all of that to look at, is it really crucial for me to always post the “trophy” from the hunt?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below and tell me how you feel about it.

The Definition Of Humanity

We live on the road for long periods of time. Sometimes we don’t go home for months. A while back we made the decision to invest in a very nice 5th wheel trailer for these long road trips. It comes with all of the comforts of home. A tall ceiling, wood floors, a full kitchen, and flat screen tv’s. Soon after we went on the road DL purchased a satellite for the television so we can watch the news on our days off.

As I write this I am in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. New Mexico. This state is sometimes underrated, but I attribute that to people who have never really explored it. This state has it all, and every bit of it is enchanting. The wildlife is abundant, the people are nice, and the skies go on for an eternity while becoming more beautiful with every cloud.

Tonight I went out for a walk with my dogs. The kind of walk where I take a knife and a Garmin GPS, but not a leash. We found a trail that looked promising, and we followed it until we wanted to go off-trail. Then we just walked and explored the fields. As I walked with my dogs running in front of me I thought about the news of the world. The hatred and terrible things that people do to each other. I thought about the millions of people who want to get away from their situation, but they don’t feel able. I thought about the people who just don’t feel happy, and they don’t know why. Thinking about the news broadcasting in my trailer just made me want to stay outside even longer. I can’t hide from the world. It doesn’t work that way.

But for this short time I was able to laugh at my dogs while they ran the hills in an area that we had never explored before. I smiled when they posed for a picture, and I contemplated if that might end up being our Christmas card photo this year. I smiled from the inside out. For that short moment in time I forgot the news. I lived my life as if that sky was put there just for me and my dogs.

And while I walked the hills in my own personal heaven, I knew that in other parts of the world there were terrible things happening. There are people being horrible for no reason, causing trouble, shooting each other, starting wars… But for a moment in time I didn’t have any obligation to feel the sadness that comes with that knowledge. All I knew was that my dog had a sticker in his foot and I had the ability to make him feel better. So I did. And that’s the definition of humanity.

The Beauty Of The Written Word

I used to aspire to see my image in magazines. Like many other girls I felt that I had something special to offer. And now I’ve realized that I do have something. But it’s not the way I look.

Seeing my name in print above an article that I’ve written is one of the most gratifying feelings I’ve known. The hours of writing, re-writing, editing, adding words, taking those words back out, and proof reading that go into these articles is mind numbing.

But then one day a magazine shows up in my mailbox that I get to scan through until I see my name at the top. An article I wrote about something I believe in, and then I realize that what I have to offer runs deeper than any superficial beauty. My brainpower is one of my greatest gifts, and using it to spread the word about our hunting community is a blessing.

Check out the latest Mule Deer Foundation magazine for my 2nd article from my 3 part series. I’m quite proud of it. And you’ll continue finding my name in that magazine in the future, as I’m doing my best to contribute to this wonderful organization and the conservation efforts of our beloved mule deer, black-tailed deer, and their habitat.

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Being Kind To Others

I believe in karma. I believe that if you are nice to people, then you will find more kindness in this world than you can imagine. I also believe that there is no excuse for rudeness. My parents taught me that there is never any reason to be unkind to people, even if they treat you poorly. And the only reason that we should be looking over at someone else’s plate is to be sure that they have enough. Not to compare what we have.

Social media, however, has opened up new doors for people to be rude and inconsiderate without having to face the consequences. It has enabled some people to make comments or say things that they would never imagine saying to someone’s face. I live by the rule that I don’t say anything on social media that I wouldn’t want my family to see. The people who harass hunters and threaten us obviously don’t live by that rule.

What if somebody wrote a book that was full of quotes from what you’ve said on social media? Would you be embarrassed? Would you allow your family to read it?

Turning my cheek to the ugly comments is my preference. I choose kindness because I’m happy with who I am and what I do in my life.

I do have a degree in psychology, but I’m not the first one to point out that people who put others down and publicly shame others are lacking in confidence and have underlying issues. People who insult others whom they’ve never met have serious personal problems. I choose to be nice and to focus on kindness in my world so that some of that positive energy stays with me at all times.

Hunting Dinosaurs

Most people know that hunters chase elk in September. It’s the time of the year, and the season, that we all look forward to. After hot summer months there is something refreshing about the high altitude cold and the sound of screaming bulls. I control our filming schedule, and I did something different this year. I booked an alligator hunt in Florida instead. Why? Because I wanted to. We drew tags through the lottery system, we love gator meat, and it was the perfect time for us to tag a few gators prior to our busy fall filming schedule.

Hunting alligators is different than most people might think. I guess some guides have different styles of hunting them, and the way we chose to go about it was a little more dramatic than most. We ride on the front of a boat in the middle of the night while holding onto our weapon of choice. That weapon can be a bow, a crossbow, or a harpoon. All of them have buoys attached to a rope, and the point is to tag the animal with the buoy. After you tag the animal, you follow the buoy, pull it up to the boat, and harvest the animal with a bang stick.

We all know that alligators hide up on the banks, slightly submerged, while their yellow glowing eyes watch us. The system our guides use is to run the boat up on the gator as fast as possible, while judging the size of the animal, and then releasing the arrow as soon as we have a clear shot. If it’s a really big alligator then sometimes we’ll put multiple buoys into it just to be sure.

In Florida it’s required by law to use a bang stick to harvest the alligator after you get them up to the boat. Imagine a gun that looks like a broomstick… It has a .357 caliber bullet inside, and you tap the animal on the head, right between the eyes, while it’s slightly under the water. As soon as the end of the stick makes contact water explodes everywhere. It’s actually a more humane way of finishing the hunt than many other methods, so I completely agree that this should be a regulation.

On this trip to Florida I harvested my largest alligator to date. It put up a great fight, and at one point it actually bit the side of the boat right next to my foot. Watching it roll in the water, watching it come up from the depths of the murky river, and harvesting it with my own hands was something I’ll never forget.

In order to keep the alligator population balanced and to keep the number of nuisance gators at a minimum the state of Florida issues both nuisance tags and trophy tags every year. We’ve participated in nuisance hunts, but this was our first time going after trophy gators. It’s a good balance, considering that there is an estimated 1.2 million alligators living in Florida.

I grew up in the Midwest, so alligators are not an animal that I knew much about until my adult life. The more I chase them in the wild, and as I learn more about their habitat and history, the more I adore spending the first week of elk season chasing these mammals instead. Maybe not every year, but I wouldn’t trade these memories or this hunt for anything.

Did you know that scientist believe that the alligator species is over 150 million years old?! They survived about 65 million years longer than other dinosaurs! They are classified as reptiles, but they are more closely related to birds (whose ancestors were dinosaurs!)

Home Decor – Taxidermy “Do’s” And “Don’ts”

Anybody who walks into my home will be greeted immediately by smiling faces, laughter, and a zebra in the foyer. It may be a little too much for some people to enjoy, but we love being surrounded by the animals that we’ve harvested over the years. In todays home decor trends, taxidermy is making a comeback in a big way. I consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to bringing taxidermy into the household, so I’ll share some tips for making it work. When this trend passes and something new comes along, you can guarantee that taxidermy will always be a part of my home decor.

  • Do use taxidermy to brighten up a room.
    A nice stag or deer above a fireplace can bring old-world coziness to any room. This might be because we associate our ancestors and early family ties with hunting. It reminds us of how the world used to be every time we look at a fireplace with a beast mounted above it.
  •  Don’t overdo it.
    More than a few animal heads in a room can make us think of scary movies, and it can take away from each individual animal you’ve placed there. In my house we have animals in almost every room,
    but to keep it tasteful we put space and other pieces of art between them. For example, an elk mount in the corner of a room can be offset by a smaller animal across the room to keep the theme going. But we also have some rooms that are full of animals, and I’m ok with that even if other people would find it tacky.
  • Do find practical uses for taxidermy.
    We actually use a European whitetail mount as a key rack near the front door. It’s small enough to be unintrusive, but large enough to make a statement. An elk shed can make a great coat hanger when mounted to a wall properly, and antler chandeliers will never go out of style.
    When people first enter our house it sets a mood of whimsical fun, but also a serious reminder that we fill our own freezers with meat.
  • Don’t put something within reach of people if you don’t want it to be touched. Most people, and almost all children, will want to feel what the animals fur feels like, or they’ll want to touch the
    horns. In our foyer we have a zebra mounted on a pedestal. We don’t mind people touching it because we like to share the experience with everyone who enters our home, but if you want to keep it from being smudged with fingerprints, move it to a place where nobody can reach it. I never put things within reach that shouldn’t be touched.
  • Do have fun with it! If you love how something looks, then keep it that way. Just because something is trending and other people think it’s cool, that doesn’t mean your home has to follow those guidelines. Forget the rules and decorate your house in a way that makes you happy when you spend time in it.

I’m sure that some people have walked into my house and cringed at the sight of all of our animals mounted everywhere. I’ve got a full sized alligator in my dining room, along with a caribou in velvet, a Kansas whitetail on a pedestal and 2 flying pheasants. Most people wouldn’t think of a formal dining room with that decor. But I love it and it makes me happy. And every one of those animals provided food for our family, so really the dining room is a prime spot for them to spend eternity.

My point is that for some of us who hunt and decorate our homes with the trophies and memories from those hunts, the animals have special meaning. If you just want to spruce up your home with some traditional taxidermy, then I applaud you for supporting our way of life and embracing the natural beauty that we find in all animals. Either way, just be sure to hang the heavy stuff correctly so you don’t end up with a deer on the floor and a hole in your wall. Stud finders and proper hardware are a must!