DIXFIELD — Walking into Fall's Taxidermy Studio on Thursday afternoon off Route 2, it's not the usual assortment of woodland critters that catches one's eye.
Nor is it the albino beaver or the new Maine record, 3.46-pound white perch caught Feb. 9 by Steve Benedetto of Livermore that's waiting to get restored to its original color by taxidermist Diane Gifford.
Instead it's the 9-foot-tall moose that stands floor to ceiling that taxidermists Vance Child and Peter York have spent about 25 hours creating for a New York client in the Adirondacks.
It's only their third full-size moose in 10 years, and seeing it immediately elicits a “Wow!”
“That's what we say,” said Vance Child, who charges $4,000 to $5,000 for life-sized moose.
Restoring an 850-pound moose back to its original self is only half the story for this particular ungulate.
During the September moose hunt in Smyrna Falls in northeastern Maine, Mark Cote of Rumford called the bull in from 50 yards out to just 7 yards away for his sons Aaron, 21, and Andy, 15.
Earlier, Aaron won the permit to hunt Maine's largest game animal, his first moose, while Andy was his sub-permittee, Mark said Thursday afternoon.
The sons simultaneously fired their .308-caliber guns hitting the moose in the chest, 4 inches apart.
Mark said he planned to have its rack mounted so on the trip back with the moose, he called Child and asked if he knew anyone who was looking for a moose cape (the skin and hair from the head and neck).
"He said, 'I'm looking for a full moose if you know anyone that's got one,' and I said, 'Geez, we've got one right in the back of the trailer,' " Mark said.
They took it to big-game butcher Don Castonguay in Livermore Falls. He skinned the moose, removing about 400 pounds of meat for the Cotes. Child and York then retrieved the skin.
Back at the studio, a Fed-Ex truck delivered the $1,700 form on which the moose skin would be fitted and sewn. But they couldn't offload the 250- to 300-pound form into the studio.
So Child's oldest son Tommy backed his pickup truck up to the delivery truck and shoved the form into the pickup.
Then Child said his son backed the pickup truck up to the studio's receiving bay doors, enabling them to move the form into the studio.
"A lot of people had their hands in this," Vance Child said.
"We were seven hours just sewing him up. Russ and Rachel Dubois of Upcountry Snowshoes in Temple helped hold the skin together so it could be sewn."
Jon Magoun, an antiques dealer from South Paris who ordered the moose for a client in the Adirondacks, found a set of shed antlers and gave them to Child for the moose. It took another two to three hours to install the detachable antlers with a 68-inch spread.
"He's a pretty good looking boy, really," Child said.
In early April, a student at Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico, will comb and brush out the mounted skin.
Then, in another two weeks, Child and York will begin finishing work, doing the nostrils, removing pins from the mount's eyes and "painting him up to where he needs to be."
On learning that the moose was nearly ready to be shipped to a client in New York, Mark and Aaron Cote were amazed.
"That's cool," Mark said. "I'm glad somebody was able to make use of the skin."
"That's awesome," Aaron Cote said. "I'm definitely honored to have that happen."