TOM WHITING

Artistry has long been what separates Animal Artistry from other taxidermists, and it was what drew Tom and McKay Whiting. New to town, the couple stopped on a whim, captivated by the bronze statuary gracing the property. They were not prepared for what they found inside. “It was unlike anything we had ever seen before,” McKay explains. “It was almost more like a museum.”

The showroom at Animal Artistry features a mix of mounts, and as they toured the space, the couple grew more and more impressed. “There were beautiful, live-action taxidermy scenes everywhere,” says McKay, “and by live action, I mean you have to see these pieces to understand what I’m really saying.” Still, the best was yet to come. Tom had recently been introduced to Native American culture, and he had great respect for their way of life. It was fortuitous then, that his visit coincided with the showcasing of Mike Boyce’s buffalo hunt piece. McKay recognized the impact of this massive piece on her husband, and as Tom stood entranced, she quietly made arrangements for its purchase as a surprise birthday gift.

Fast forward six months, McKay brought Tom back to Animal Artistry to reveal his gift. The couple met Mike and found an immediate connection as he explained the original and history of the piece. “Because a lot of Michael’s thoughts and beliefs paralleled ours, I knew we had made the right decision,” says McKay. Mike agreed to hold the buffalo hunt mount until Tom and McKay could find the right space for it. And when they couldn’t find it, they built it, clearing land on their property to create what they would call the Buffalo Room.

At this point, the couple revealed their plans to Mike and asked for his input. “It just took shape from there,” recalls McKay. “His insight and creativity were amazing. He gave us a detailed history of the artwork and the era and the time, and suggested incorporating the same Native American into 11’ x 14’ paintings on each of the octagon sections to tell the story of the hunt. He made sketches and examples so we understood how it would all tie together.” Over a period of twelve months, the couple worked side by side with Mike and his team to create a space that would do justice to the buffalo piece that had so moved Tom. The final space would feature stunning murals and an elaborate mount featuring antelope, wolves, deer, a bobcat, and prairie chickens. “Now that the room is complete, I’m not going to even try to explain,” says McKay. “Even the photos and videos don’t do it justice. It really has to be experienced in person to truly appreciate it.”

The Buffalo Room made for a memorable twelve months for both Tom and McKay and the entire team at Animal Artistry. “Michael, Steward, and Jennifer are amazing to work with,” says McKay. “We were treated as friends, and we continue to enjoy a quality relationship with Michael. There was never any type of pressure or urgency from him or his team, which is a breath of fresh air in these days and times. We had a clear project cost, and we stayed right on budget.”

It’s an experience Tom and McKay won’t soon forget, and the team at Animal Artistry couldn’t be prouder to have been part of it. “It’s very evident that their multiple decades of experience have created a knowledge of this business that is second to none,” says McKay. “I would truly recommend Animal Artistry to anybody.”