MEET ROB MURTON – THE TAXIDERMIST
I was born and raised on Kangaroo Island, and hunting and fishing has been a way of life for as long as I can remember. I shot my first goat on the cliffs of the rugged south coast when I was around twelve, and mounted the nanny’s horns myself. My father was a professional fisherman and from an early age we were out in the boat, haulin’ them in.
I’ve spoken to quite a few taxidermists, and most of them have been interested in the subject from when they were young. I’m no different, wanting to give it a go when I was a youngster and my older brother took me into the old Hambley Clarke’s gun shop in Rundle Street. One look at the heads on the wall and I was hooked. A trip to the Adelaide museum really amazed me, and I guess it all started from there.
I hunted hard when I was younger, and many big billies and feral boars were taken on the island. Being so isolated meant that if you wanted an animal or fish mounted, you did it yourself, so I taught myself. From early beginnings, my work has improved. I still have the first goat I shoulder mounted, and although it was rough by today’s standards, it has stood the test of time and looks the same as it did thirty five years ago.
I’ve also been a writer and photographer for many years, and have produced many hunting and fishing articles for numerous magazines such as Sporting Shooter, Guns and Game, Australian Shooter, Hunter magazine, Fishing World, and others, some no longer publishing.
Some of my other pastimes which I enjoy are wildlife photography and saltwater fly fishing. But the camping trips, the travelling and all other aspects associated with hunting, fishing and taxidermy are interesting and enjoyable for me. Nowadays I hunt mainly deer, but still like all forms of hunting from small game up. Rob Murton’s Fish and Game Taxidermy came into being when my wife and I shifted from Kangaroo Island to the town of Goolwa on the south coast, about an hour’s drive from Adelaide and there has been no looking back since.
The word taxidermy comes from the Latin terms Taxi, meaning to move, and Dermy meaning skins. But a taxidermist is much more than a skin mover. There are many aspects to the art. You have to have knowledge of tanning, woodwork, fibre glassing, mold making, and know the anatomy and look of any subject you work with, whether it’s a yabby or a deer. It all comes down to time spent doing it, learning as you go. I’m still picking up on different techniques, because there’s always something new to try, it’s never ending.