OUT AND ABOUT: Not a taxing job at all: Area taxidermist earns national awards
NEVIS -- Bryce Bellomo spends a lot of time around fish and deer, but in a way not so typical for a northern Minnesotan.
He rarely ventures out onto the lake or sits in the deer stand, yet he interacts with the animals on a daily basis. Bellomo, 30, is a taxidermist and the owner of Game Over Taxidermy in Nevis.
With no set plans for his future after high school, but with the advice of an art teacher, Bellomo enrolled in a taxidermy program at Pine Technical College in Pine City. "At least I could to learn how to do it and it would probably be fun," Bellomo said.
After completing the program, Bellomo started working at a taxidermy shop in the Twin Cities as a part time job. "You get out of school and you kinda know everything and then all of a sudden, you start realizing how much you don't know," he said, "with all the little hiccups and problems you can run into."
Bellomo moved to Nevis and took on taxidermy as a full-time job and eventually as owner at Game Over Taxidermy, formerly Belle Taine Taxidermy.
Bellomo recently returned from the United Taxidermy Association National Exposition and Competition, a biannual event that took place in Nebraska this year. Bellomo became the first Minnesotan to win a Best of Category award in three categories. Overall, he earned 10 awards, including ribbons for six pieces he entered.
Bellomo said he also enjoys attending the competitions for camaraderie with other taxidermists and the learning aspect, as competitions often include various seminars and workshops. "You don't see people who do this all the time and it's kind of nice to be able to not be a hermit and call them up when you run into something that they have seen before," he said. He also said he hopes to one day participate in a world competition.
The average item, deer or fish, takes typically about six to 12 months to be completed, depending on several factors, Bellomo said, including how many other items are in the shop and what type of mount is ordered.
Bellomo keeps busy as several pieces tend to come in at about the same time but there are times when he receives few new projects. "There's times where I'll have a month where I'll take in three fish," he said. "March and April are usually the worst."
Although he has learned that they are several ways to get a job done in the field "a lot of the techniques don't matter as much as who's doing them, I've seen guys do things they way that other guys say is the worst way to do it," Bellomo said.
Bellomo has no plans to stop doing taxidermy but hopes to continue to improve his skills, "I guess I figure if I continue to try to get better at it, if not I'm kind of complacent."