A taxidermist’s motto: “You Snuff ‘Em ‘n’ I’ll Stuff ‘Em”

Sep 6, 2016

Don Waechtler's man cave features many of his taxidermies.
Credit Patrick Fort / Aspen Public Radio

Don “Slim” Waechtler founded Slim’s Taxidermy in Glenwood Springs in 1981. In his house, he has what he calls his man cave. It has some of the essentials, like a pool table and flat screen TV, but the decorations are a little more nontraditional. You’ll find the heads of moose, elk and bighorn sheep, as well as a full-sized grizzly bear in the corner.

Wachtler started his business after working for the Bureau of Land Management, but now he’s retiring.

He was seeing his other friends retire and he felt like it was a good time to do the same. And after all this time, he said he wouldn’t change anything.

“I really think I’d do the same thing,” said Waechtler. “You always wonder, ‘what would have happened if I stayed working for the BLM in wildlife or range.’ You know, you make decisions, and you go for it.”

At his peak, he said he would make anywhere between 50 to 200 taxidermies a year. The process can be pretty complicated. First, he has to turn the pelts into leather. Then stretch them over this foam molds that are kind of like the anatomical human models you might see in a classroom — complete with veins and musculature.

“There’s of course 101 other little details,” said Waechtler.

He’s going to finish up a few more projects, even though the sign outside reads “retired”.