Vincent

Vincent

Almost live… a taxidermist’s art

Hobby turns to career

As a wide-eyed seven-year-old visiting his aunt in Quebec, Sunriver dweller J.P. Vincent saw something he would never forget.

“In her big, big log cottage she had an owl, this frickin’ owl was in the corner and it had big yellow eyes. And everywhere you look it looked like the eyes were following you.”

The owl was a preserved specimen done by a taxidermist, that sparked Vincent’s interest to pursue the trade some 30 years later.

“I’ve always talked about it with buddies you know, ‘yeah yeah I’m going to get started with taxidermy,’” said Vincent, whose day job is a supply technician with the Canadian Navy.

“We always talk about yeah, we’re going to start this, we’re going to start that and you know what? I did it,” he said with a grin.

Joining the military at 18 and moving around Canada, free time wasn’t in abundance. When he did find some, hunting was something Vincent enjoyed. Starting with grouse at 13, he worked his way up to deer, moose and bears. After moving back to B.C. in 2009,  he shot a black timberwolf in Prince George that he took to a local taxidermist in Sooke and that changed his life.

“I called him up, and said ‘can you do my wolf for me’ and he said ‘sure.”

And so, Vincent took his prize to see Jens Teglman of the now-defunct Sooke Taxidermy. Fascinated by his operation, Teglman agreed to let him watch. The two quickly became friends.

“You know, I go down there, shoot the s–t, have some coffee — next thing you know he’s like ‘throw an apron on, here’s a knife.’ I’m like whoa!”

The relationship evolved from friendship to teacher/apprentice, with Teglman agreeing to pass on his knowledge for free with the stipulation that Vincent not start a similar enterprise in Sooke until he retired. That happened October of last year, when he handed over the reigns of the business and Sooke Taxidermy became Vinker Taxidermy, an amalgamation of Vincent and his wife’s name.

He now operates his business out of the garage in his Sunriver home. Incredibly tidy (i.e. no blood stains), the sparse workshop didn’t look unlike any other garage. Some cabinets, a large work table, scattered machinery against the wall. He explained that everything he needs is there, from a fleshing machine that thins out an animal’s hide to a plier-looking device designed to split open an animal’s ears so tanning solution can seep in.

“I do all my own tanning, I don’t send it away,” he added.

Vincent said all the work is very meticulous, as well as creative — how you pose the figure, recreating the facial expression — something people might not associate taxidermy with.

“The creativity, believe it or not, starts the minute you skin the animal out.”

The skin is pretty much all that remains the same. The bones are discarded, the meat is given back to the owner, and the rest is stretched over a plastic mannequin (one of the few things he doesn’t fabricate himself) that he orders from Alberta, or the United States. Models of every size and shape imaginable are available, even ones for non-conventional species like the African Black Buck and Cape Buffalo that Vincent said he was fortunate enough to do for a client.

Aside from skin mounts, he also does fiberglass replicas of animals. For instance, Vincent is currently working on the repair of a salmon that was created off a picture the owner took of the original catch.

Turnaround time for a project is anywhere from four to seven months, depending on the size and complexity. Price can go from $36 an inch for a fish to $800 for an entire four-foot bear.

“I don’t promise customers anything,” he said. “It’s taxidermy, it’s not like building a boat or something. When it’s done, it’s done.”

A lot of the time is spent waiting for things to dry and cure. Most of the work is also done during evenings and weekends since Vincent is still in the navy, although that will eventually change.

“I’m coming up at the end of my career in the military and this is going to be my full-time job.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
A micro brewery is being eyed for Jordan River. However, the site where the brewery is proposed still needs to go through the rezoning process. (Black Press Media file)
Micro brewery proposed for Jordan River

Jordan River Brewing Company envisions to build wholesale, sit-in brewery along Highway 14

Traffic waits at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. A study found failing levels of service at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sidney’s Beacon Avenue for multiple movements during morning peak traffic and for all left-moving traffic during afternoon peak traffic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Province supports potential interim improvements to Sidney intersection

Province says interchange is the long-term plan for intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17

Oak Bay local Lachlan Kratz (red, middle) has signed with pro rugby team NOLO Gold in Louisiana. (Contributed photo)
Oak Bay local signs with pro rugby team

Lachlan Kratz at 21 is now NOLO Gold’s youngest member

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read