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Pine Grove taxidermist wins state and world titles

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    Pine Grove taxidermist Jason Krause received state and world awards for his snake mounts- a timber rattler and a red-tailed boa constrictor. LISA PRICE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published July 13. 2018 11:09PM

If it was possible, the 7-year-old boy’s eyes grew even brighter.

It was one thing to accompany his father to a taxidermist shop to pick up a finished bear mount – that was exciting enough in itself.

But as he looked around at all the other finished mounts – mammals, fish, birds, reptiles – he knew what job he’d choose in the future.

Now, if he could only remember what it was called.

“When I grow up I want to be a ... how do you say it again, dad?,” he asked. “Taxidermist,” his dad patiently replied.

“That was a family joke,” Pine Grove taxidermist Jason Krause said. “I knew what I wanted to be, I just could never remember the word.”

“All I remember is that he had a room full of stuff, and I wanted to be able to do that,” he added.

“When I was 14, a family friend got me a fish mounting kit, and I got started with that.”

Neither father nor son could predict just how successful Jason Krause would be in his chosen profession. His work has earned numerous state, national and world awards. Most recently, mounts of a timber rattlesnake and red boa constrictor have not only won state awards, they’ve been deemed Best in the World, in the reptile division (2017 and 2018).

Krause graduated from both Pine Grove High School and the Pennsylvania Institute of Taxidermy in 1992.

In May 1993, he took the taxidermy test which was then issued through the Pennsylvania Game Commission – today taxidermists are licensed through the state’s Department of Agriculture, and there is no test issued.

As he started his business, Krause’s Taxidermy Studio, he also worked “regular” jobs before devoting himself full-time to the taxidermy work. His studio is located on Covered Bridge Road, about a mile from the Rock Hotel off Route 895 (krausetaxidermy@hotmail.com, 570-691-7632, 570-345-3664)

Krause makes his own form for the snake mounts, carving the shape. He traces the snake into the preferred shape, and also take meticulous measurements of its width, circumference and height before skinning it.

Krause pointed out that in order to harvest a venomous snake in Pennsylvania, a person needs a fishing license and also a venomous snake permit. The season runs from the second Saturday in June until the end of July, he said.

But despite the success Krause has had with the snake mounts, he’s not just a “reptile” guy. Reptiles are a specialty of his, but he also specializes in waterfowl, upland birds and all mammals, large and small. In fact, his mount of a fisher is stunning – capturing the critter’s intense and ominous stare.

Since officially hanging out his sign, Krause has continued to educate himself in his field. He maintains an extensive library of information. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Taxidermist Association (was the association’s president for two years). He frequently goes to taxidermy shows, where he exhibits his work, serves as a judge and also takes a look at the work other taxidermists are doing.

“Shows are a great place to go and compete, and also a great place to learn,” he said. “You look at your work through someone else’s eyes, and that helps you improve.”

Jason’s son, Malachi, 12, won the Junior American Waterfowl (a bufflehead duck) category at a Cabela’s show in 2017. The award was sponsored by the Lebanon Middle Creek Chapter of Ducks Unlimited. Looks like there may be another Krause who knows what he wants to be – a taxidermist with a room full of stuff.

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