Date of Birth: September 14, 1940
Place of Birth: St. Paul, Minnesota
Current Location: Gilbert, Arizona
Harry Paulson had a great passion for the outdoors and wildlife when he was a teenager. He developed an interest in taxidermy while running a trap line in Minnesota during his high school days in the mid 1950’s. After purchasing lessons through a mail order course, sold by J. W. Elwood, he spent time with John Jaros, head taxidermist at the Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota campus. While attending classes at the University of Minnesota and Hamline University, Harry started up a small taxidermy business. When he left his university studies he took a job with the State Highway Department and worked as a Senior Tech III Engineer, but also started doing more and more taxidermy projects. In 1971, he decided to do taxidermy full time moving his family to Phoenix, Arizona, where he opened a new business called Mountain Valley Taxidermy Studio.
In 1977, Harry opened a taxidermy school, Mountain Valley School of Taxidermy. He hired some very talented taxidermists as part time instructors which soon made his school one of the most attractive venues in the USA to learn taxidermy. These instructors included Joe Kish, Bob Berry, Jim Hall, Gary Zehner, and Ono VanVeen, the business manager at Jonas Brothers Taxidermy in Denver, Colorado. These men were experts in their specific taxidermy fields. Harry successfully operated his school for over 23 years.
Also, in 1977, a taxidermy show and competition was formed by Joe Kish, called Taxidermy Review. Harry attended it with some of his students and became extremely active in assisting Kish with some future shows he produced. The Review held the first national taxidermy competition in over 80 years and many people from many states attended.
In the early 1970’s, Harry attended the formation meeting of the National Taxidermy Association in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where he became a charter member. He was elected to the NTA board of directors the next year and served off and on for a total of 13 years.
In 1981, as an NTA Director, he gathered a number of state taxidermists, and implemented the formation of the Arizona NTA Chapter. Around this same time Arizona was being confronted with Proposition 200 which was a bill introduced limiting hunting/fishing rights. Harry assisted in spearheading a challenge to this proposition and was surprised to receive a call from Ted Nugent stating “he was willing to do anything to help them with this cause”.
When the World Taxidermy Championships was formed by Bob Williamson in 1983 Harry worked as one of the administrators at that first show and worked in various capacities at future shows. When Larry Blomquist purchased the show in 1992 Harry served as the seminar chairman for many years.
In 1985, Harry purchased a larger taxidermy business, Sievers Taxidermy, and combined it with his other businesses. Another opportunity presented itself in 1992 when Harry purchased American Taxidermy Magazine from Tim Kelly.
Over the years Harry won numerous ribbons/awards from State, NTA, and World Shows. He stopped competing in 1984, but before doing so he won the Henry Inchumuk Small Mammal Award at the NTA summer convention. This meant a lot to Harry as Inchumuk was a very close friend.
Taxidermy has been a very large part of Harry Paulson’s life and for certain his biggest accomplishments for his peers was his many years of assisting, educating and helping others reach their goals.
On July 24, 2021, Harry Paulson was officially inducted into the Taxidermy Hall of Fame by THOF Chairman Larry Blomquist of Louisiana, during the 2021 National Taxidermists Association’s awards banquet. Unable to travel due to health concerns, Harry recorded an acceptance speech to be played during the induction ceremony. Harry’s wife, Carol, shot the video and his daughter, Tami Austin, edited it. The video is included below.