Michigan Taxidermist Association

One of the Nations Largest Taxidermy Associations

Meet the Judges for the 2020 MTA Competition!

Whitetail Judges


First of all, it is a great honor to be able to serve as your Whitetail Judge. My name is Owen Eldred I am a
resident of Central Michigan. My wife Heidi and I are the proud parents of four wonderful children. Like
many, I grew up in the outdoors hunting and fishing developing a love of nature at an early age. I have
been blessed to be able to raise many different species of Deer and Exotics. Our farm is currently home
to 125 Whitetails. They continue to be some of my best teachers.
My background in taxidermy competition includes Whitetails, Gameheads, and Life Size Big Game. I have
been competing since 2002 and try to soak up all the knowledge I can through seminars, critiques, and
great conversation with industry peers. Over the years I have been fortunate to earn some awards along
the way. Most notable are 10X State Champion, National Champion Whitetail, National Champion
Gamehead, and most recently 2017 World Champion Large Gamehead.
I look forward to meeting everyone and sharing the techniques I use!


Before I begin I want to say thank you to this association for choosing me as one of your whitetail judges, I have heard many good things about the association and its many talented members. My name is Wes Mote, I grew up on a working cattle ranch in southern Oklahoma where I first began my fascination with whitetail at a very young age. From the time I could write my name I started drawing and painting pictures of deer so naturally taxidermy was an artform I was very interested in. After a brief stent in the military I decided to teach myself and started that same year competing in state and national shows. My early work was nothing special but fortunately have been able to meet and study with some of the greatest taxidermist in the country along my way and therefore advance in my craft as fast as my abilities would allow. My biggest and latest achievement being 2nd in World Whitetail Champion at the 2019 World Taxidermy and Fish Carving Championships. I look forward to passing on any knowledge I have and hope to learn from many of you as well! 

Game Heads and Mammal Judge



I was born in 1944 and grew up on a farm with four sisters and five brothers. We always felt lucky to have parents supportive of any of us having pets or taking in orphan wildlife. There was always some form of animal, bird or reptile sharing our home.

I went to work for Oldsmobile in 1968 and purchased my small farm in 1969. On the farm I have had many exotic native wildlife and farm animals. I have had a Rehab Permit and a Game Breeders License since the 1980's.

In the past I would go to exotic animal auctions and come home with new species. Eventually I had to quit doing this as I was spending all my time at home caring for animals, taking in injured wildlife or orphan animals.

Animals have always been an important part of my life and a great source of live reference. Wanting to capture their beauty, I was always drawing and trying to capture the look of a live animal with shape and hair and better than painting or sculpting.

I have focused on this form of art from then on and started competing in Taxidermy Competitions in 1980. The Michigan Taxidermist Association was formed in 1982 and I have been an active member since day one. I also been a member of the National Taxidermy Association.

I have won more than 16 Best of Shows at State and National Competitions. Being a consistent winner over the years and my knowledge of animal anatomy has led to being invited to judge for many State Shows as well as judging mammals at the World Show. I was also asked to do some work for the Smithsonian Institute. They have five mounts on display that were done by me.


Fish, Reptile, Invertebrate Judge



My name is Randy Budzynski. I live in East Lansing, Michigan with my wonderful wife, Debbie, of 37 years. We have two grown children and four grandchildren.

My interest in Fish Taxidermy began in 1983 when I checked out a book from our local library. The book I found copyrighted in 1958 basically taught me obsolete methods but this is what got me started in taxidermy. Most of my self-taught learning was through trial and error with a lot of hair pulling and headaches as there were no videos, how to books or internet at the time. A few years later while attending an Outdoor Sports Show at the Lansing Civic Center I met a couple gentlemen representing the newly formed Michigan Taxidermist Association. They explained to me the benefits of joining the organization (learning by attending seminars, participation in competition and through the comradery of members sharing ideas and techniques). I was very intrigued and joined the association right away. I began attending membership meetings and competing at the annual conventions. I absorbed all the information I could through critiques, meetings and conversations.

I did well competing over the first few years with some second and third place ribbons and even a couple first place ribbons. In 1997 I finally won my first Best of Category in the Professional Division with a Blue Gill mount and that same year I attended my first World Show and entered four fish in the Professional Division and received Second Place Ribbons for each of the entries. I continued to learn so much and competing became my passion. In 1999 I attended the World Show again with a Walleye and Perch and each received a First Place Blue Ribbon. The Perch was awarded Best in World Professional Division.

Some other memorable achievements are: Michigan Taxidermist Association Award of Excellence in Fish, The Michigan Taxidermist Dale Cornetet Award, The McKenzie Taxidermy Supply Distinguished Service Award, several McKenzie Taxidermist Choice Awards, Ten State Championship Awards and 2011 N.T.A. National Champion Award.

I have continued to compete over the years and participate in as many seminars as possible and eventually I began doing seminars and sharing my experience in the field of Fish Taxidermy with others. When I was asked to judge the Novice Division for the M.T.A. in recent years I was thrilled. All these experiences have opened doors for new opportunities. In the past couple years I have been invited to judge for other state Taxidermy Shows (West Virginia and Ohio) and it has been an honor. This year I was honored and humbled to be asked to judge the 2019 Michigan Taxidermist Show! Such an honor to work with my peers and colleagues. I look forward to seeing everyone soon!


 Bird Judge



My name is Jonathan Wright. I am from Mesick Michigan. My family and I own Thundering Aspens Sportsman Club, a 600 acre hunting preserve. We have been in operation since 1987. My family has raised thousands of gamebirds and I started helping from an early age. Through the years I have had a passion for raising exotic pheasants several types of quail and partridge. Also mallard ducks, several breeds of turkey and geese. I have always been fascinated with birds. I enjoy watching how they display, interact, feed and roost.
I have been doing taxidermy since 2004. I have competed in several shows including the World Taxidermy Championships, where I have been awarded five world titles, awarded North American Champion from the National Taxidermy Championships and several other awards at state shows. I was appointed to the Michigan Taxidermist Association board for five years. My favorite part of judging is getting to do one on one critiques with each competitor. It is my goal to help as many people as I can to reach their true potential in the art of taxidermy.


ALL Habitat



I have been a member of the M.T.A. since 1984. I served on the Michigan Taxidermist Association Board for a few years, Past President of the Kentucky Taxidermy Association and am currently on the Board of the National Taxidermy Association.

Awards that I have achieved are several Best of Categories in White Tail Deer and Mammals. Award of Excellence in White Tail Deer. National Champion in Mammals and Habitat. Ten Wasco Awards, Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan Taxidermist Association and three Artisan Awards.

Taxidermy has been a passion of mine since a very early age. I love to study nature and to give back to the people that have shared so much with me over the years.


Novice, Youth & Commercial Judges

Curtis Cook - Deer


Brian Watson- Fish


Mike Guest - Birds

Shane Martindale- Mammals

Travis Walle - Deer


Jayson Clark - Fish


Jake Sexton - Birds

Todd Ekstrom - Mammals