If These Walls Could Talk, I’d Be Scared

I couldn’t help but laugh out loud while reading a short story in the Daily Globe the other day about Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s weekend deer hunt.

The photo of the eight-point buck caught my eye, but the part of the story that grabbed my attention was his wife’s declaration that the soon-to-be mounted head could hang in Branstad’s office in the Iowa Capitol. It would not be welcome in the Governor’s mansion.

I would have to agree with Mrs. Branstad on this one.

One of my best friends from college married a man who had a giant moose head hanging on his living room wall. My first thought, aside from the fact that the head took up an incredible amount of wall space, was that Mary would have to wake up every morning for the rest of her life looking at that large critter on her wall. She was obviously OK with that — the two are still married and, for all I know, have added other critters on other walls of their home.

I grew up in a home where there were no mounted deer heads, no mounted trophy fish — just one pair of Texas longhorns that, to be honest, I’ve never thought enough about to ask where they came from.

The longhorns now hang on a wall in the basement rec room on our family farm. They don’t get a second glance, for the most part, from those of us who grew up there. However, a couple of years ago I learned from my younger nieces and nephews why they are too scared to play in the basement without adult supervision. They think the longhorns are going to get them!

As far-fetched as it sounded to me at the time, I can sort of relate.

One of my older brothers shot a coyote a couple of weeks ago and, after proudly posting a photo on Facebook of his hunting success, my sister-in-law commented that she couldn’t wait for it to be displayed in their home.


The bad thing about Facebook —or any written word — is that the tone doesn’t come across in the writing. I wasn’t sure if she was being sarcastic or really, truly excited about a dead coyote being on display in the family’s living room.

It turns out she’s the latter.

I can’t imagine getting out of bed in the morning, walking into the living room and facing a fierce-looking, fanged coyote to start off my day. On the other hand, I could potentially consider it a form of exercise. I would probably jump and my heart would start to race. I’d instantly think some dangerous critter worked its way into my home overnight, and then, just as instantly, realize — oh yeah, it’s stuffed.

Randy’s plans for the stuffed coyote actually sound kind of cool. It will be displayed with a stuffed pheasant in flight, quite similar to a piece my nephew had done recently with a red fox and pheasant combination. I did see that particular piece and thought it was really cool.

I do admire the art of taxidermy. In fact, I’ve seen many Facebook photos of the work Brian Almberg has done in his studio outside of Worthington. Sometimes I wonder who in the world would want a stuffed alligator gar in their house, but that’s beside the point.

My brothers are lucky enough to have spouses who are OK with displaying their hunting stories — that’s a large part of why hunters get their prey stuffed — to display in the house. I, on the other hand, will stick to the art of needlework and displaying those proudly on my walls. It just so happens that my next big project will be a scene of pheasants in flight. If it ever gets finished, my brothers can argue over who will get to hang it in their house … perhaps next to a real, stuffed, pheasant.

Just so they know though, I will never — ever — be asking to display one of their hunting trophies anywhere in my house.