Crystal man’s taxidermy showroom filled with his turkey trophies

By Lonnie Allen • Last Updated 9:58 am on Monday, June 11, 2012

Jim Weaver, owner of Shooter Jim’s Taxidermy in Crystal, displays the wings for turkey mounts that are currently in the drying process. — Daily News/Lonnie Allen

The sound of a gobble builds anticipation for the hunter seeking the gobbler with his strutting posture and red, white and blue head.

The hunter needs to be stealthy, clever, persistent and patient.

Crystal resident Jim Weaver and his 17-year-old grandson, Hunter Meyers from Stanton, know these skills well.

Weaver, a 74-year-old retired carpenter, hunts all over the world, in his home he has displayed head mounts of wart hogs staring off across the room, there are grizzly bears standing tall and then there are deer fully grown no bigger than a small black lab.

“I got this (Brocket deer) while hunting turkey in the jungle in Mexico,” he said. “This one has antlers, which are spikes that are 5 inches, the world record is 7.25 inches so this is a respectable one.”

Weaver and Meyers both have completed the Grand Slam and are vying for the World Slam of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

“There are the four different birds in the United States,” Meyers said. “Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam’s and Osceola birds and you shoot them for the Grand Slam.”

The federation recognizes hunters like Weaver and Myers on its website and with certificates and medals.
Weaver has been turkey hunting with Meyers since he was old enough to shoot.

“Actually when he was old enough to hunt,” Weaver said. “We went Texas first and he got his Rio Grande bird. In Texas, you can hunt when you are 7.”

Jim Weaver shows the artificial bodies of turkeys that will have skin stretched over to form a mount for display. The skin-drying process typically takes three weeks. — Daily News/Lonnie Allen

The final bird needed is the Gould’s turkey, which they will hunt in Mexico.

Weaver likes to travel and hunt. He started taking his grandson when he was old enough.

“We have been hunting in Texas, Alaska, Florida, Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming,” Weaver said. “We have been all over hunting. I always took him with me when he got old enough.”

Spring turkey hunting is especially fun because of breeding.

“They come into your calls, you know,” Weaver said. “They fan out their tails, put on a show and sometimes they fight each other.”

Hunting turkeys in Mexico is not the same as hunting in the United States.

“In the United States, the wild turkeys act about the same,” Weaver said. “But in Mexico the Ocellated wild turkey in the jungle stay in the trees more so we can hunt them while they are in the trees.”
There are differences between the turkeys here and in the ones Mexico too.

“The Ocellated don’t have beards,” Myers said. “They got longer spurs and their gobble is totally different sounding.”

Weaver hunted out of Pich, Mexico, which is near Campeche, Mexico, where they camp out in the jungle. The cost is $3,000 for Weaver and his grandson when they are in Mexico. They got an Ocellated wild turkey in the first week in April.

Weaver said it is a one-month hunting season and Myers enjoys the adventure of being in another country.

“It is different,” Meyers said. “You know, obviously they speak a different language. Some of them can speak a little English and you can kind of get what they are saying, but it is always fun going the new experiences and stuff.”

Jim Weaver explains the skin-drying process of an Australian Rusa deer. His taxidermy business is preparing a shoulder mount for a customer. Shoulder mounts typically take three weeks to dry, he said. — Daily News/Lonnie Allen

Weaver has been running his own taxidermy business for 10 years now and he is willing to show the many animals mounted and talk about the ones he is the process of mounting.

“I had to do something when I retired,” Weaver said. “I have been an hunter all my life. I decided why not so something like this.”

Weaver’s business and home is filled with mounted animal trophies from all over the world. And he doesn’t mind showing people all the animals in his showroom from the exotic to common water foul.
“Sure, I can give a tour of the showroom,” Weaver said.

However, Weaver is retired and he doesn’t have normal shop hours.

“Call ahead and see if I am home, or stop by,” he said. “I will give tours but they probably should call first and make sure I will be here. Especially if they live far away because of the gas prices.”

At Weaver’s website the public can view pictures of some animal displays his taxidermy business has done and even contact him if they had questions he said.

Myers loves hunting as much as his grandfather and he has many animals on display too.

“It would suck if I couldn’t hunt,” Myers said.

Myers completed the Grand Slam when he was 14. This year he got the Ocellated wild turkey which leaves the Goulds turkey the last on Myers and Weavers list for the World Slam.

“We are set up and ready to go for next year on May 15,” Weaver said. “When we leave the pavement, it will be 75 miles into the jungle to our campsite.”

Hunter Myers 17, from Stanton and his grandfather Jim Weaver 74, from Crystal holds an Ocellated wild turkey in their hands. — Daily News/Lonnie Allen

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