Michigan Taxidermist Association

One of the Nations Largest Taxidermy Associations

Meet the Judges for the 2021 MTA Competition!

Whitetail Judge


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 havebeen 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!

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 Jimmy Lawrence. I live with my 5 year old son Mackson in Southwest Iowa. I’ve ran a full-time Taxidermy shop since the late 2000s and have done a little of everything. From Birds to Bison, from Shiner minnows to Sailfish. I’ve done state and world records, both of skinmount and replica origin. I’ve also done several reptiles while living in Florida, but focus primarily on fish as many of you know.
 Since I've been able to walk, I have been completely and utterly obsessed over fish and fishing. Naturally that progressed into catching a fish worthy of a mount! I was 16 and begged my mom to let me get it done and paid $8/inch (which was a lot of money haha) and after I got it back, I was hooked. I knew looking at that fish, that was what I wanted to do. So at 17, I bought books and a vhs tape, and caught bass and practiced, until I was able to get one together. Since then, I have been fortunate to befriend some of the best people in the industry, as well as compete all across the country at state shows learning and absorbing as much knowledge as I can. My work has dramatically improved and I sure hope it continues to do so. I attended my first show in 2006 and have been ate up with it ever since. A few of my accomplishments competing include multiple State Champion awards, Polytranspar Awards, Vandykes Most Original and Creative, Pro-1 award, Woody award for runner up best of show, and many other odds and ends and blue ribbons along the way. One of my biggest achievements is being involved in Taxidermy University with my colleagues and friends, sharing our knowledge with the world in our DVDs. I think that’s pretty incredible for someone who comes from where I have, to now. Competing has really improved my commercial work and understanding of fish Taxidermy both in Skin Mounts and Custom Molding Replicas. I have spent countless hours looking at fish reference, looking at them every day, and catching as many as I can to improve what I know about these awesome creatures. I hope you will bring something for me to look over with you, and keep an open and honest mind about what follows. I sure am looking forward to it. My biggest advice is study your field of work, surround yourself with driven, like minded individuals and show passion in your finished results. Without that, it seems a moot point to me. Can’t tell you how honored I am to even be considered to judge your show.
 Really means a lot.
 Jimmy Lawrence


 Bird Judge


Novice, Youth & Commercial Judges