Cecil White said he can pinpoint exactly when he developed an affinity for taxidermy.
“My best friend growing up, he had a cousin a little bit older [that] did taxidermy kind of part-time,” White said. “Being boys, hunting, fishing, all that good stuff as kids, [I] started watching him and hanging around with him and just took off from there.”
White opened Cecil White Taxidermy in 1979 on Second Street in Katy. Seeking additional space, he moved the establishment to 720 Thomas Ave. in 1982 after renovating an old house that became the company’s current facility, he said.
White said his clients come from the area and all over the world and that he aims to serve a niche in the hunting community.
“Hunters want to preserve their trophies, and it’s just like any profession; someone needs to fill the void there,” White said. “So, that’s where we come in for that for the sportsmen and people who fish and all that kind of stuff. They snuff them, and we stuff them.”
His business has three main focuses: a point-of-sale storefront containing examples of his taxidermy handiwork, a taxidermy workshop and a space where pelt tanning is done. White said he offers taxidermy and tanning services for many types of animals, with his past projects ranging from deer and waterfowl to far more exotic creatures. Baboons have been among his most rare jobs to date, he said.
According to White, a common misconception about taxidermy is how much of an animal is actually used. In the case of deer—White’s most common undertaking—the skin and antlers only are affixed to a synthetic form. These forms come pre-made in a variety of shapes and sizes to best match the original animal, he said. White said other faux components, such as eyes, are also used routinely in taxidermy.
While he knows taxidermy is “not for everyone,” White sees it as a “rare art form” that combines several fields of study.
“You have to know anatomy, you have to know biology, you have to know chemistry [and] mechanical stuff,” White said. “It’s a very involved art.”
White said he used to also offer meat-processing services as a complement to taxidermy, but he decided to eliminate it from his business model four years ago because it was time-consuming. However, White said he has developed a good rapport with fellow Katy business Midway Deer Processing and often works in conjunction with the company to provide client deals and referrals.
White said he is looking forward to the upcoming fall hunting season. His business, and the taxidermy industry as a whole, is founded on one basic principle, he said.
“[When you] shoot something—I don’t know why—it’s human nature to try to preserve it,” he said. “You can’t make it come back to life, but you want to make it look like it’s still alive.”
720 Thomas Ave., Katy
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., closed Saturday and Sunday