By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Lester Prairie resident Daryn Hoof has found a way to turn his love of hunting and fishing into a business.
Hoof, who says he spends most of his time outdoors, has wanted to learn taxidermy for several years but had not been able to find the time.
“I have had trophies of my own mounted, and I wanted to be able to do it for myself and others,” Hoof commented.
He was employed by ABC Truss in Montrose, and when the company closed, he suddenly had time, and, with the support of his wife, decided to turn his dream into reality.
“We decided there is no better time than now,” Hoof said.
ABC closed its doors on a Friday, and by the following Monday, Hoof was in class at the American Institute of Taxidermy near Boulder Junction, WI. He had made his initial contact a month before when he knew the company would be closing.
Minnesota does not require certification to become a taxidermist (only two states do), but Hoof decided to become certified to add credibility to his new business venture.
The certification program lasts six weeks and consists of four general areas: a bird course, a mammals course, a game head course, and a fish course. Participants must earn diplomas in each area.
“I fell in love with it right away,” Hoof said.
He enjoys creating mounts in all of the categories of taxidermy.
He finished the certification program Oct. 31 and went to work building a shop for Hoof’s Taxidermy next to his house southwest of Lester Prairie.
His goal is to do taxidermy full time.
Hoof said his goal is to have a quick turnaround and get finished mounts back to his customers within eight months (some taxidermists can take more than a year to complete projects). At the same time, he want to make sure he is delivering good quality mounts.
“If it is not good enough for me, it is not good enough for them (the customers),” Hoof said. “I am kind of picky, kind of a perfectionist, and I will take the time I need to do each step right. Quality is number one.”
In order to improve turnaround time and efficiency, he has invested in state-of-the-art equipment for his business.
He also controls the process and improves turnaround time by tanning all of his own hides. A lot of taxidermists send this work out, Hoof said.
Although he is new to the field, Hoof has received compliments from customers who say the cannot tell the difference between his work and that of taxidermists who have been doing it for years.
“I tell people, ‘come in and see my stuff and judge for yourself,’” he commented.
He will create mounts based on customer requests, and he will also make recommendations about what he thinks will look best for a particular specimen.
He was pleasantly surprised by the number of customers who have contacted him since he started the business.
He received several calls within the first two weeks of putting up a sign in front of his house.
Hoof said he appreciates the fact that Mark Garber, owner of Garber’s Meats in Lester Prairie, has referred several customers to him
“A lot of it is word-of-mouth, friends telling friends,” he said.
Hoof is a Lester Prairie native, and the son of City Council Member Larry Hoof.
His wife, Melanie, is an accountant at Lester Building Systems, and they have a 19-month-old daughter, Addison.
Anyone who wishes to contact Hoof can contact him at (320) 395-2986 or by e-mail at Hoofstaxidermy@yahoo.com.