Campfire Talk Part 4 with Larry Weishuhn

28 August 2012

From a piece of clay... I have always loved to create, be it a drawing, a story, or even taking wax or clay and “messing with it.” Years ago, I began scratching on rocks doing rough drawings to resemble a whitetail deer head study complete with antlers. I’ve done these on Nature’s rock walls in many places both here in North America and other destinations where I’ve been. I’ve been careful where I’ve done these so as not to compromise what others before me had created. I’ve long too, been a writer and as such have created many a story about hunts, including great stags bested and those bested by me,as well as creating characters based on those I’ve met in my travels. I’ve written books, many, many hundreds of magazine articles, a tremendous number of columns, book chapters and books. I’ve written a couple of poems, but never wrote song lyrics, something I still have to look forward to, the same with doing a novel. One of these days.... Years ago I did a fair amount of taxidermy work because I loved trying to create mounts that reflected feelings of the animals and duplicated what those animals appeared as when they were alive. That was my introduction to waxes and clays... I have always loved sculptures, especially those which duplicated or replicated real life. But where those sculptures left you with a feeling... It was because of these that I loved the art of Mark David James at first site. I was introduced to him and his art at the Houston Safari Club where I was introduced to him by Rode Walker with Timber and Stone Builders from Kerrville, Texas. Rode had hunted elk with Mark in the past, something at which the artist excels! And he had asked Mark to display one piece of art in his booth, Mountain Heir, as head and shoulder study in bronze of a regal 6 x 6 elk, one he had hunted for several years, but which eluded him still. I took one look at Mountain Heir and knew I wanted one. I’ve hunted elk numerous times and have accounted for several really nice and big elk, taken with rifle and pistol. But it was Mark’s Mountain Heir that spoke to me. Before that Houston Safari Club show was over, I had gotten to know Mark James. I asked him before departing if he had ever sculpted a whitetail deer. He said he had helped with a whitetail sculpture, one that could be found in front of the Cabela’s store in Buda, Texas, even though the artist’s name was shown as someone else. A couple of weeks later I invited Mark to accompany me on two hunts in Missouri where he would have an opportunity to see a bunch of high quality whitetails (Oak Creek Ranch and Heartland Ranches) and to study them up-close and personal. This in hopes it would inspire Mark to produce a whitetail sculpture. Weeks later I got a call from Mark, “Got the armature set up for the whitetail, but want you to be involved in creating the bronze. Are you interested?” Was interested, what a question? I was honored to be asked to help Mark. And over the next weeks we talked about poses, antlers, ear positions, legs position, attitude of the “deer”. I sent photos to Mark and we talked. Then came the Dallas Safari Club Convention last January, yes he would be there, and could I spent time doing some work on the whitetail wax, make suggestions and add and take away where I needed to. Between doing numerous things at the DSC Convention I also spent time working with Mark on the whitetail wax. Then nearly a month after DSC, I met Mark in Milwaukee at their sports show, where I was a speaker and a judge for their whitetail deer calling and rattling contest. In between those things I did a bit of work on the whitetail wax. I greatly appreciated the opportunity to add my touches. A month later, Mark sent me photos of the creation with a statement... “Want your name on the bronze with mine. Your are as big a part of this creation that I was! And, I’ve decided to call the bronze “Mr. Whitetail”.” I tried to argue with him, but he would not have it any other way. I am truly honored. Mark will first show the “Mr. Whitetail” at a couple of galleries in July, and I’m hoping to have one or so in July as well. Soon as we get the first ones back from the foundry, I’ll have photos here to tell you more about the bronze and where it can be purchased. Quite likely while you’re reading this, I’ll be in Namibia hunting kudu, gemsbok and possibly some other plains game with Omujeve Safaris. Beyond trying to procure footage for my new “Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” I’ll also be field-testing Nature Blinds’ and my Signature Stalking Shield. I’ll let you know how it works. I dearly love to hunt from the ground and have for most of my life. Occasionally I’d be set up where I could see quite a distance. A buck would show up on the far end of the field or sendero, too far to shoot, and it wouldn’t come any closer. There was no way to stalk the critter because there was no cover. So some time ago, I on occasion I would carry a piece of cardboard with me shaped like a tree trunk or stump. With it, I was able to stalk to within shooting distance, because I looked like something natural. Of course I paid strict attention to the wind, making sure it was in my favor. And, I also tended to move when the buck fed or looked the other way. When a deer looked my direction I stopped. Can’t wait to use my signature stalking shield in Namibia... Lots of fun days ahead.. Time to drag some old limbs up close to the next campfire...