While there has been much discourse on the matter of subsistence hunts for sheep and other trophy animals, very little has been discussed with regard to the traditional use subsistence taxidermy permit. Given to only one recipient per year, the Truly Excellent Alaskan Taxidermy (TEAT) Award is highly coveted because it gives the individual taxidermist an opportunity to advertise his specialty under the guise of promoting tourism in the state. In fact, the TEAT Award is so popular that the residents of the state have agreed to pick up the tab for any costs the winning taxidermist might incur while so hawking his business. As the residents have come to realize (and rightly so), the one thing that creates more tourism in a beautiful state than scenery is a stinky taxidermy shop that is not necessarily open to the public. University-sanctioned surveys have shown that a whopping 54% of tourists will drive over 20 miles to smell epoxy in a taxidermy shop, and another 37% will drive more than 50 miles to do the same.
Almost none disagree with the positive impact of the Award. Other university-sanctioned surveys have shown conclusive evidence that tourists will buy 40% more merchandise after sniffing taxidermy epoxy than those who do not sniff. Similar studies (with strikingly similar results) have been performed on tourists after a few hours on a crab boat and also after breathing diesel fumes from a miner’s track-hoe. Oddly enough, similar state subsidies of their operations were met with hostility from others within each particular profession, but as we all know, they will have their chance to apply for the award in later years. As we can plainly see, with fame comes the natural human reaction toward jealousy, and in the taxidermy profession it is no different. Subsistence awards (especially one as coveted as this) are handed out on a merit basis. Sheep hunters whose needs merit 48-inch rams are rewarded with such. Other taxidermists, many of whom consider their work to be “superior” to that of the year’s winner, often feel slighted or even wronged, but they often do not display the same degree of need as the recipient. Further, it is important to keep in mind the words of the great Alaskan Rudolph Begichowski: “What is good for one may or may not be good for all, but at least it is good for one.” Oddly enough, he was also the man who coined the phrase, “You’re going to get screwed most of the time, but we try to spread it around to everyone.”