Class of 2019 Hall of Fame Inductees

The Taxidermy Hall of Fame is proud to introduce the inductees for the class of 2019. These inductees were announced during the Friday night Awards Banquet in Springfield, Missouri on May 3, 2019 during the World Taxidermy Championships. The induction ceremony was held in July during the National Taxidermists Association convention in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The two new inductees are as follows: 

Cary Cochran

Date of Birth: March 19, 1948
Place of Birth: Charleston, West Virginia
Current Location: Millersburg, Ohio

Cary Cochran was born in Charleston, West Virginia, on March 19, 1948. He lives in Millersburg, Ohio, with his wife of 50 years, Gail. Cary is recognized as one of the most accomplished taxidermists in the United States since the mid 1980s.  In 1986 while working for Buckeye Mannikins, he acquired a portion of the ownership of the company and was appointed to the position of vice-president.

While at Buckeye Mannikins Cary sculpted mannikins for whitetail deer, wild boars, rug shells, turkeys, and other species of bird bodies. He sculpted a line of turkey bodies with a different system for mounting along with a line of realistic artificial turkey heads that revolutionized this difficult area of taxidermy. He also broadened and refined deer-mounting techniques and developed products such as artificial nictitating membranes, nose septums, replacement nose casts, artificial mouth parts, and different methods of using Sculpall for open-mouth work. 

In 1987 Cary won Best in World Whitetail Deer on an original mannikin he had sculpted. The judges that year were Larry Blomquist and Joe Meder, and they remarked that his entry “had details no one had ever captured in taxidermy competition with great accuracy and outstanding finish work.” Cary had established new standards that are only equaled today.  He continued to compete for many years, winning virtually every top award available for his mammal and bird taxidermy. In fact, Cary earned a blue ribbon with every whitetail he ever entered in taxidermy competitions. 

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. Cary has judged and given seminars at over 100 taxidermy state, regional, national, and World Shows. In addition, he has given seminars at public shows such as the National Wild Turkey Federation, Quality Deer Management Association, and large sportsman shows, all with the purpose of promoting taxidermy over the past 40 years.

Cary has shown leadership and given in many other ways to promote unity and quality taxidermy. He has sculpted Best of Category medallions, made and donated custom game calls for auction items, and given five-day workshops as auction items to various taxidermy associations.  In 2014 he was one of the first in a group to be inducted into the Ohio Taxidermy Hall of Fame. He has written several articles for Breakthrough magazine on taxidermy processes and analysis of his original reference photography.

At age 70 Cary still enjoys many facets of taxidermy and has recently developed a new line of earliners for deer, coyotes, and African lions. He has refined  some new deer nose casts and recently designed a chewing whitetail mouth-cup. He will again be one of the judges at the 2019 World Taxidermy Championships. Its no wonder he often says, “When taxidermy gets into your blood, you can’t get it out.”

Michael Gary Orthober

Date of Birth: November 27, 1961
Place of Birth: Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsisn
Current Location: Egg Harbor, Wisconsin

Michael’s father taught him to draw (trucks, airplanes and birds) at a young age. Later he acquired a couple bird books and started drawing the birds contained in them. Along with his interested in birds he started building WWII aircraft models and learned to use an airbrush to paint them. His father (Gary) and uncle (Roger) were hunters so Michael began hunting with a BB gun at a young age. His uncle had a fews mounts in his home and Michael admired the taxidermy and decided to try taxidermy on his own beginning with birds. His uncle gave Michael the lesson books he bought from the Northwestern School of Taxidermy along with the tools (Michael says he still uses the carcass hooks). He also found a book in the school library called Quality Taxidermy that aided in his start of taxidermy. The first bird he attempted was a pigeon when he was 11 years old.

     Michael started a business in his parents basement during his sophomore year in high school doing birds. Soon he move on to mammals and started fish in1983.

He joined the Wisconsin Taxidermy Association and in 1981 where he attended his first competition. He did not compete, but was impressed with all the taxidermy and seminars. He began competing the following year and missed only one WTA competition over the next 36 years. He was on the WTA Board of Directors for 4 years and was the WTA competition committee chairman for 17 years.

Mike married to Lorie Orthober in 1982. In 1983 Michael worked briefly for a large taxidermy studio, but decided after a couple of weeks that assembly line taxidermy was not for him. Michael took a completely different path. He had acquired five acres of family land and with a background of working in construction built his workshop and moved his taxidermy business there. After several years part time he went full time in the late 1980’s.

Michael continued competing and won his first blue ribbon in 1989. In 1995 he  won his first judges best of show in Wisconsin and went on to win nine more Best of Shows at various competitions. By the year 2000 Michael had established himself as one of the most accomplished taxidermist in all phases of taxidermy in the World. Some of his major winnings include ten Best of Shows, nine WASCO Awards, two First place World Show Master of Masters awards, one Third in World, two Second in World and three Best in World titles. He has won numerous major awards at the NTA including the NTA Taxidermist of the Year in 2017.

Mike Orthober’s accomplishments and vast knowledge of all areas of taxidermy  has earned him judging assignments at many state shows the IGT, the NTA, European Championships, Canada Championships, Russia Championships, New Zealand Championships, and the World Taxidermy Championships. He has been highly sought after as an instructor having given over 100 seminars and still does one on one classes in his studio.

In 1997 Mike was contracted to build a wildlife exhibit at the local county museum (Door County Historical Museum, Sturgeon Bay, WI). He designed the diorama, painted the background mural which is approximately 30′ x 14′ tall and a side wall that’s 14′ x 9′. He also built the habitat which includes a large beech tree, a limestone rock ledge, a stone fence, water scene and the ground cover. Michael also mounted all the animals and birds. There are approximately 140 birds from hummingbirds to raptors, eight mammals, and assorted reptiles and amphibians. Most of these mounts were mounted at the museum with people watching him work and asking questions. The exhibit was officially opened in 2004. Mike still add specimens every year.  He also does many protected birds for nature centers and schools which is his favorite facet of taxidermy.

During this time he also started doing a taxidermy and exhibit lecture for the Door County Historical Museum at the Elderhostel program in his county. After the museum quit participating, he now continues to do it as a service to his community. He does the lecture around ten times per summer. Michael has taught thousands of people what taxidermy is all about and they are always amazed!  He helps teach a taxidermy class at two high schools in his county for the last ten years and also teach hunters safety, including the wildlife ID and game care part of the class for 16 years.

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-taxidermist as to the complexity of our trade and the artistry of our craftsman.