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Punching the Clock: Take this job and stuff it

If my future in taxidermy is anything like my first day on the job, then there’s a better chance I’ll accidentally stuff and mount myself before I ever get the hang of it.

Ruth Smith doesn’t agree. And she would know. She and her husband Warren Smith own and operate Chenango Taxidermy on county Rt. 4 in Preston. They’ve been in the business for more than 30 years.

I was in business literally 10 seconds, attempting to fit my first deer hide with a scalpel, before slicing my finger open. No better way to make a good first impression than with a little blood, right? It was clear this wasn’t going to be easy.

Ruth said everyone gets off to a rocky start on their first time around.

“It’s not something you can learn in a day,” she said, offering me a paper towel to wrap around my finger while we waited in the shop for Warren to come up from the house with some Neosporin. “It takes years of practice.”

It takes a lot of Band-Aids, too. I’d need three before the day was done (my poor sausage fingers). Apparently, that’s pretty common in this line of work.

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