By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Most hunters and anglers dream of harvesting the big one they can hang on the wall.

With modern techniques, many taxidermists have gone from producing simple wall hangings to tasteful and elaborate works of art.

But who is the best taxidermist to take your trophy to? Bill Hudson introduces us to the award-winning North Star Taxidermy gallery in Nicollet, and co-owner Jeff Holmin.

Any sportsman worth his or her salt will tell you that some of the most important things to bring back from an outing are the stories and memories made.

“One of my favorite things is that when somebody’s coming to pick something up, I’m seeing them at their happiest. You know, the memory that they had of their best day while hunting or fishing, and I get to share it with them,” Holmin said.

It’s probably no stretch to say that Holmin has heard his fair share of hunting and fishing yarns.

“I get to hear a lot of stories two times, when they bring it in and when they pick it up we relive it, but that’s OK. I like to hear them all,” Holmin said.

An avid outdoorsman himself, Holmin is a great ear, but it is his artful eye and creative spirit that led him down the path to being the best taxidermist in Minnesota.

“I’m just honored that people think that highly of us,” Holmin said

All one has to do is cast their eyes around Holmin’s beautifully-appointed studio to see the quality and craftsmanship that goes into each piece. This is truly an artform.

“The days of what was always referred to as “the duck on a stick,” those days are becoming less and less,” he said.

And more and more, Holmin and his team strive to include artful references to the pieces, like the time of year, or the habitat in which the animal was taken.

“You can take a simple mount and put it with a really unique setting, and really have a work of art,” he said.

For example, it was some “out of the box” thinking with a diorama of a ringbill duck that won Holmin first place in the World Taxidermy Championships back in 1988.

But for Holmin, the biggest rewards still lay in the memories.

“I’m a hunter. People ask me about, you know, ‘Hey, what my best day?’ My oldest daughter, when she was 12 years old, she shot a big moose in Minnesota,” he said. “And hunting wise, that was my best day.”

And if that particular memory ever does start to fade, all Holmin has to do is walk into his gallery, where the proud papa has a full-body mount of his daughter’s trophy for all to see.

“I’ll never forget that,” Holmin said.

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