Decorating with Dead Animals

I once tried to write a column for Woman's Day titled "Decorating with Dead Animals" but the idea was rejected.  I think the editor thought I was joking. I never intended to display animal antlers, horns, hides, and even a head, in my home.  I argued successfully against it for a few years, before I lost that battle.  I did love Sagamore Hill, Teddy Roosevelt's Oyster Bay home, and visited often as a child, and it was full of trophies from his hunts. The umbrella stand was an elephant's foot, as I recall. But that was then, and this is now, and we are not Roosevelts.

I could blame Ed Beitner, whose obituary I wrote last week. He spent hours cleaning up our goat horns and shaping wood plaques to mount them on, and then gave them to us and insisted we hang them in the house. He grabbed deer antlers too, and did the same, always stopping by to see where we hung them,  which was as close as he came to socializing.

My compromise was to keep these leftovers from hunts in the kitchen, since we ate the meat. But somehow the bison and the sheep ended up in the living room, and now there are moose antlers there, too. Don Nash mounted those, and some of the deer antlers too. 

Ed made the trophy above my desk: "Sitka Black Tail, Christian Lende, Goose Island". Those were the years when the kids went with the dads and they wall-tented  and came home with so many stories about the cold, the weasels, the bears, and the  wind and snow. No wonder my son spends winters surfing in the tropics now. 

My husband is waiting to fly out and meet Don for their annual deer hunt out at Elfin Cove. The same winds that canceled today's ferry have kept float planes grounded. That's okay with me. This is the season when better safe than sorry means more, when Don lost a son to stormy seas. He made a plaque to mark our son's first deer hunt, the following year. Don didn't write anything on it the way Ed did, but he didn't have to.  I know which one is Don's and that is why I keep it on the wall.

Which is a long way of saying that I still don't think decorating with dead animals is a good idea, but filling your home with objects that remind you of people, places, meals, and adventures that you loved, can be, don't you think? 



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