name is Mike Downing, I have been involved in taxidermy for about
twenty years, establishing Memories Taxidermy Studio in 1989.
My interest in taxidermy grew out of a lifelong
interest in hunting and fishing. My studio is located in Lincoln City,
Oregon, right in the middle of the beautiful Oregon coast.
This part of Oregon has some of the best salmon
and steelhead fishing rivers on the west coast; not to mention
numerous small lakes full of trout and largemouth bass!
The hunting is also tough to beat; native big
game includes Blacktail Deer, Roosevelt Elk, Black Bear and Cougar-
all are available within ten miles of my doorstep! Gotta love that!!
There are waterfowl in the local bays and upland
birds include Mountain Quail, Ruffed Grouse and Mirriam's Turkeys,
with pheasants available if you want to drive to the Willamette Valley
an hour or so away.
My father was a logger all of his life, retiring
a few years ago, and I spent numerous hours in the woods with him when
I wasn't in school. This let me grow up seeing all of the wildlife in
this area (where I have spent all but five of my fifty five years),
personally I don't think you could live in a better area of the
I grew up here, spent my teenage years working in
a local restaurant, went to college in Sacramento for a couple of
years-never cared for the big city!!
Upon returning I went back into the kitchens,
managing a local family restaurant for the next twenty years; during
this time I married, raised two kids; and hunted or fished whenever I
In about 1985 I harvested my first Black Bear and
started looking for a taxidermist to make me a rug; when I got my rug
back a few months later I started thinking about getting involved in
taxidermy myself. Having spent 25 years working for someone else, I
had been thinking for a couple of years about finding a way to be self employed; and the more I thought
about it, the better I liked the idea.
Like a lot of others, I got hold of a
correspondence course that gave me a little information on how to
mount a deer head, and proceeded to mount one or two heads for
I didn't think they looked to bad, and my friends
seemed to think the same way!
I decided that I liked the work and could enjoy
doing it on a regular basis- but I also had enough sense to realize
that if I was going to make a living at it, I would have to charge a
fair price for the work!
And I knew I had a long way to go before I would
feel that I was being fair to my clients in doing so.
I saved my money and in 1989 I attended Mountain
Valley School of Taxidermy in Phoenix, Arizona. I can't tell you how
much I learned there; the day to day, hands on time spent with Harry
Paulson in his classes taught me more in three months than I had
learned in three years on my own!
After school, I continued to work in local
kitchens and started to gradually get the word out about my business;
slowly building a good repeat clientele.
In 1999 I moved into taxidermy full time; my
business had gotten to the point that I was not able to finish pieces
in a timely manner, and I was just getting further and further behind.
Business has continued to increase each year; it's still a one man
show, but that is really the way I like it.