From deer to small game, it is hunting season across Georgia right now -- and that means business is piling up for taxidermists.
Taxidermy expert Ray Knight is also finding a lot of business in what used to be a very rare service: pet preservation.
Some might find this creepy, others might say it is the perfect way to remember a loved one. Either way, for a Covington taxidermist, it is turning into a steady stream of extra business.
Alcovy Taxidermy is filled with largemouth bass, wild boars and even hungry squirrels.
“You name it, we’ve mounted it,” said Knight.
Wildlife is now only part of their business.
PHOTOS | From taxidermy to preserving pets
From taxidermy to preserving pets
“Nothing more than a funeral home or mortician – except we bring stuff back to life,” Knight said.
That is why customers are dropping off their late pets, like 9-year-old Brandy the Cocker Spaniel, to have their loved ones preserved.
At one time, Knight says society considered stuffing or mounting a pet to be taboo.
“Well, times have changed,” he said. “We’ve seen an uptick in it, and expect to see it steadily increase.”
Now, as they work on pets alongside walls of antlers, a business built on celebrating a hunter’s living room trophy is also having to offer compassion.
“The biggest thing with a pet is the emotions behind it,” he said. “They have to deal with the emotions and naturally we have to deal with that also."
As the once dead take flight again. Knight says customers’ opinions on forever pets goes both ways.
“Customer will come in and say, 'Ah, that is a little bit creepy, I don't know about that,' but at the same time, the next customer that walks through the door will say, 'That is the coolest thing I've seen.'"
And it is for those customers they do this to bring comfort during a time of loss.
“Even though it is deceased, they can take it back and it feels like they've got it with them still," he said.
Knight says pets can take considerably more time than wildlife to stuff or mount. He says a deer is a deer; bobcat is a bobcat, but pets are very unique. And from parakeets to a hundred-pound Rottweiler, and pet snakes, he’s done it all.