In April of 2019, the 18-member selection committee of the THOF narrowed down the list of six highly qualified nominees to the two people who became the latest inductees into the Taxidermy Hall of Fame. The class of 2019 was announced to the public during the Awards Banquet at the World Show in May, and the induction ceremony was held in conjunction with the National Taxidermist Association Awards Banquet in July in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The new recipients of this honor were Cary Cochran of Ohio and Mike Orthober of Wisconsin.
The Chairman of the Taxidermy Hall of Fame, Larry Blomquist of Louisiana, started the program off by thanking the National Taxidermists Association for this venue and time to honor and induct the 2019 newly elected members of the Taxidermy Hall of Fame.
Larry introduced the first inductee, Cary Cochran of Ohio. Larry recalled that he was one of the whitetail judges at the World Show in 1987, along with another THOF member, Joe Meder, when they selected a whitetail mounted by Cary Cochran as Best in World. From that point forward Cary’s impact on taxidermy has been resounding in many aspects.
Recognized as one of the most accomplished taxidermists in the United States, Cary has bean a leading innovator in the taxidermy supply industry, sculpting mannikins for deer, boar, and turkeys, as well as developing ground-breaking artificial replacement parts for mammals and birds. As a World Champion taxidermist, Cary continued to compete for many years, winning virtually every top award available for his mammal and bird taxidermy.
With all the talents of this gifted artist, it could easily be said his biggest contributions to taxidermy has been sharing his knowledge with others through judging and giving seminars over the past 40 years at hundreds of conventions. Cary has shown leadership and given so much in many other ways to promote unity and quality taxidermy.
Cary’s good friend and frequent collaborator Brian Banbury followed Larry’s remarks with some personal observations and humorous stories about his experiences with Cary. Finally, Cary Cochran came on the stage to accept this honor and delivered a moving speech about how hard work and diligence can pay off professionally.
Next, THOF Board of Director Ken Edwards of Georgia came on stage to induct Mike Orthober of Wisconsin. A humble creative genius, Mike has had an enormous impact on our industry as one of the most accomplished and honored taxidermists in all phases of taxidermy. He has judged and given hundreds of seminars all over the world. He designed an built a complete wildlife museum exhibit with murals, habitat and 150 mounts in his hometown. Mike frequently lectures about taxidermy to the general public and teaches taxidermy in two high schools.
Michael Orthober has achieved tremendous achievements in taxidermy, he has given back to the industry as an instructor, judge, sculptor and association board member and leader. He has educated thousands of non-taxidermists as to the complexity of our trade and the artistry of our craftsman. His unique artistry actually inspired the creation of the original WASCO Award.
As a surprise presenter, Mike’s brother Matt Orthober was invited to the stage to offer some personal perspective. Matt gave a entertaining account of growing up with Mike and watching his talents develop through the years. Then, Mike himself came on stage to accept his award. He delivered an eloquent acceptance speech explaining how taxidermy has allowed him to live a life that he never would have imagined.
After the induction, the surprises weren’t over yet. When the major awards for the NTA competition were announced, Mike Orthober won his tenth WASCO award, the Taxidermist of the Year Theodore Roosevelt Lion Award, the Challenge of the Art of Taxidermy Award, and the North American Champion Bird with his hazel grouse.
Cary Cochran and Mike Orthober are now part of a special group, joining the other 45 existing Taxidermy Hall of Fame inductees for all time. They were presented with a plaque which read in part, “In recognition of a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the taxidermy industry and significant achievements in advancing the art.”