Visitors to the 2013 Florida State Taxidermy Association’s convention last month voted local taxidermist Casey Davis’ replica fish the best in the state.
Mr. Davis, 31, though relatively new to the profession, also took second place for his white-tailed deer entry. He’s been honing his craft for just three years now, learning from other taxidermists in the region and on his own at his workshop on CR 125 N. in Glen St. Mary.
Winning the “McKenzie Taxidermy Supply Taxidermist’s Choice — Best Fish Award” at the Ocala convention was a bit awkward for the unassuming artist.
But garnering the most votes from his fellow taxidermists for an air-brushed and hand painted speckled perch, a freshwater fish commonly called crappie, was an honor nonetheless.
“I knew I had to bring something a little bit different to the table this year,” he said of the entry. “A lot of taxidermists will go to the competition with a large-mouth bass or a blue gill or a salmon. I wanted to take a fish like this speckled perch that’s hard to paint.
“It takes about six hours to paint one properly. Instead of three color patterns, I used ten and three different paints. Combined they gave me great depth. It worked out well. I got first place ... I believe it was primarily because they could see my detail; it was not done with a stencil pattern. It was hand drawn.”
He took home four other awards from the convention and his apprentice, Scott Lightsey, earned a second-place ribbon in the amateur division plus three other awards.
Mr. Davis, a Macclenny native, graduated from Baker County High School in 2000 before spending two years on a mission trip in Nevada. Next he earned an associate degree from FCCJ and a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
Mr. Davis is an avid hunter and angler and got his first lessons in taxidermy from his father, who worked in the craft as well. He considers taxidermy an art form and takes pride in making lifeless animals appear as vibrant and anatomically accurate as the real thing.
“It’s no different than painting a canvass and hanging it on the wall,” said Mr. Davis.
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