At Nature’s Design Taxidermy in Cody, Ray Hatfield has dozens of unique animals on display. Mixed in with the grizzly bears and elk one would expect from a Wyoming taxidermy shop are warthogs, musk ox, lions and other exotic species.
But Hatfield also has other creatures in his showroom that nature didn’t design.
Take the Scorpiobeast made from parts of a black wildebeest that was once a damaged shoulder mount. The legs are from an ostrich formerly in a trophy room in Texas, where its feathers were all eaten off by rats.
As much as testing the imagination, Hatfield said his piecemeal taxidermy also is prompted by a drive instinctive to most hunters in not wasting any of the animal.
“If the mounts are falling apart, we try to use them up instead of throwing them away,“ he said.
Hatfaield said the spines on the side of the Scorpiobeast – which has a price tag of $5,500 – are mountain goat horns and cave bear claws he sculpted out of from epoxy putty.
“It depends on what comes in,” Hatfield said about where his ideas come from.
Hatfield said he began making his crazy creatures about five years ago out of pieces from abandoned projects. So far he’s also created a Minotaur and an Elkosaurus, both of which he’s already sold.
“We had the Elkosaurus, which isn’t here anymore, up at the Montana fair,” he said. “And it got thousands of pictures up there.”
The creature now in the works is something Hatfield calls a Crocosaurus.
“The Crocosaurus is going to be an alligator head with an ostrich body, and it’ll have a long dinosaur-type tail,” he said.
He holds up another twist of nature; a turtle mannequin on which he has attached an armadillo shell.
“We’ll mount him to fit on a wall,” Hatfield said of his Turtledillo. “It’ll look like he’s swimming.”
Hatfield says it only takes himself and his staff a couple of days to put together the unique creations – and they’ll do special orders as well.
“We’ve got a request for a 7-foot Jackalope, so we’ll do that,” he said.
Drawing A Crowd
Hatfield said although he and his crew sell a number of mounts in their showroom, the odd creatures that they make in the Cody workshop are a draw for walk-in traffic.
“We do use them to draw people in the store,” he said.
But if you can’t make it to his showroom in Cody, you might be able to catch Hatfield’s show on the road.
“I think we’ve got 20 ‘oddities’ shows set up for next year all over the U.S., from Philadelphia to Portland,” he said.