For Fey, creativity is ‘Second Nature'
EDGERTON — Abbie Fey has found her niche in a career dominated by men.
From the thawing coyote in her work sink to the badger with pins placed around its eyes and the salted hides of bear drying in the garage, her daily work routine is, to say the least, unusual.
She wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fey owns Second Nature, a taxidermy studio in Edgerton that features a work room, showroom and the family’s home all under one roof on the north edge of town. She started in business 14 years ago and has stuffed everything from deer, fish and waterfowl to bobcat, bear and elk. She has a bison head mounted on the wall of her dining room, a coiled rattlesnake atop a glass display case and nearly an entire wall of fish displayed to look like they are in a Minnesota lake.
While she enjoys working with all of the specimens brought in — except for perhaps the rattlesnake, her first and last experiment with the reptile — one of Fey’s favorite projects is making pheasant mounts.
Leading up to the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener in Luverne next Saturday, Fey will display several of her pheasant mounts at ReBorn Home Furnishings, 219 E. Main St. They will be moved to Grand Prairie Events as displays and centerpieces for the Friday evening banquet, and then return to ReBorn for the weekend.
Fey’s foray into the art of taxidermy began as a student at South Dakota State University in Brookings. Studying wildlife and fisheries biology — a nod to her rural Chandler roots and childhood days spent fishing and hunting — she worked for a grad student who was putting himself through college by doing taxidermy in his spare time.
Up until she was exposed to the art as a college junior, she’d thought about a career with the Department of Natural Resources or park system.
With her interest piqued by the job flexibility and creative opportunities available in taxidermy, Fey spent the summer between her junior and senior years of college as a student in Dan Rinehart’s Taxidermy School in Edgerton, Wis.
Then, after graduating from SDSU in May 2004 and getting married a month later, she and her husband, Trevor, settled in the southwest Minnesota community of Edgerton.
“I dove in in full-time taxidermy right away,” she said.
Each year, her clientele expands in both size and distance from her workshop and showroom. Displaying her pheasant mounts during the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener will provide even more exposure to her work.
“I really do enjoy pheasants,” Fey said. “I can use some extra creativity there with habitat. They can be flying, standing, flushing. With all of their colors, they’re just fun to work on. They’re beautiful.”
With Fey’s business and home occupying shared space, she’s able to work at times most convenient for her. During the school year, that’s during the day, when daughter Avery, 11, and son Parker, 9, are in school.
As hunting season ramps up, though, she goes back to work after the kids are asleep, and works extra hours on the weekend — especially during deer season, when hunters drop off their latest kill for mounting.
“People hunt until sundown and then stop by,” she said. “I try to be available for all of that.”
Among the most unusual critters Fey has worked on were a red stag, thar and ram that an area hunter brought back from New Zealand.
For animals she’s unfamiliar with, she does a lot of research and studies reference photos in order to create a natural-looking mount.
“I like working with the animals and bringing an animal back to life,” Fey said, noting that the best part of her job is seeing the excitement in the eyes of her clients when they stop in to pick up a finished piece. “I really do enjoy all aspects of it.”
To see some of Fey’s work, visit her Facebook Page, Second Nature Taxidermy, and click on Photos.