Taxidermist gives an old tradition new life

Special Reports

Dakotah Gould explores taxidermy beyond the typical game animal

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For hundreds of years, people have been preserving game animals, whether to show off a trophy or to study a specimen. But taxidermy has been changing, evolving into a second life of exotic, high-end pieces.

From the outside, Paxton Gate looks like any other Portland store. It’s what inside that sets it apart. Among all the oddities though, is the real treasure: creator and Midwest native Dakotah Gould. The renowned taxidermist was invited to teach a class about a specialty that is rapidly spreading.

“Sometimes, back home in the Midwest, people don’t always get it,” said Gould. “Or if they do, it’s the typical deer heads and ducks and not necessarily fun stuff or little stuff.”

Gould has mounted Macaws, chickens, vipers, and most recently at Paxton Gate, a rabbit. She started off as a collector when she was 24 years old. She now runs her own businesses and frequently receives invites to teach her trade at various classes and seminars.

“I don’t let anyone leave unless they’re happy with what they have,” said Gould.

She gets donations from zoos, breeders, and sanctuaries after the animals die. But it’s the support, she said, that is key from the places she partners with.

“It’s just been pushing forward and finding those clients and finding those niche markets where I’m able to have fun in my job, and pay my bills, and like doing what I do,” said Gould.

Her unique pieces even capture the attention of clients in New York and LA. But her business is in Iowa, where she is the vice president of the Taxidermy Association.

Dakotah Gould (KOIN)

“It’s interesting because when I got started and went to the first meetings, they all kind of laughed at me and said if I wasn’t doing deer and ducks and traditional game, then I wouldn’t be successful or have a business,” recalls Gould.

Except, the 29-year-old businesswoman who has learned to preserve time still has plenty of it left to prove herself. She runs Dakotah Rose Taxidermy in Grand River, Iowa, where she does client, museum, and artwork for interior designers and high-end collectors.

Gould’s classes fill up quickly and can cost hundreds of dollars. Her lectures including lessons in chemistry, art, and anatomy, and can even lead students down a career path just like hers.

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