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Angie Wieck, Published December 02 2012

It's My Job: Woman manages business side of taxidermy shop

HORACE, N.D. – Any great artist would be lucky to have a partner like Karla Slusher.

Slusher keeps the business end of J&K Taxidermy running smoothly so her husband, Jody, can focus on his craft. It is a role she has done well over the 25 years the couple have operated their business near here.

Slusher recently talked to us about her job and shared some information about the trade.

Q. Can you describe your typical day?

What I do is manage the business operation. I work with customers, answer the phones and do all the ordering, shipping and receiving. I schedule all of the work that comes in. We have about a 10-month average turnaround time.

I put together foreign shipment packages for hunters traveling abroad. It’s basically a package that includes shipping tags and instructions that will make importing wildlife trophies from foreign countries easier. I work with brokers, the USDA, U.S. Customs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Another thing I do is make sure all animals brought in have been legally taken. Some require special permits, so all clients must provide the necessary paperwork.

What is the weirdest animal you have worked with?

We get asked that question a lot. … We have a lot of local clients who hunt all over the United States, Canada, Mexico and places all over the world. We’ve done animals that have come from Russia, Mongolia, China, New Zealand, Spain, Turkey. The species are so diverse.

Do you think you do more exotic than domestic animals?

Actually, yes. It’s because so many local hunters go on African safaris now. That has really exploded in the last eight to 10 years. Hunters who go to Africa don’t usually go alone. They’ve also usually purchased hunting packages and may bring home six, eight, 10 animals.

How do clients find out about you?

We get our clients based on Jody’s reputation as a wildlife artist and the fact that we’ve been around for 25 years.

We also get a lot by word-of-mouth. The larger hunting community is fairly tight-knit and they have a great camaraderie.

There is also a lot of shoddy work out there from places that maybe don’t take the practice as seriously as we do. Hunters who know our work pass our name along.

Have you ever been asked to do pets?

We get calls from time to time, but it’s not something we do. People will ask why not, and I tell them we only work with trophy game animals. There are companies in the U.S. that do pets, but the thing is that the life is gone in the animal. A pet might not come back looking like it was remembered, and the owner will be upset. It’s a really emotional issue.

What are your business hours?

We’re open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the exception of the lunch hour. We work evenings and weekends by appointment only. Phone: (701) 588-4179.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501