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4H shooters tour taxidermy & processing plant

Special to the Courier

Pictured: Members of the Bandera County 4H Rifle Club examine mounted specimens of local exotics, under the tutelage of the lead taxidermist at Schott's Taxidermy Studio and meat processing plant.

The Bandera County 4H Rifle Club made their annual field trip to Schott's Taxidermy Studio and meat processing plant Saturday, Jan. 25. Each year while the rifle club is on winter break for hunting season and the Junior Livestock Show, the 4H Rifle Club visits Schott's to learn about wildlife conservation and stewardship of the land.
"The kids really had fun looking at all the exotic animals up close, and James, the lead taxidermist, explained how the animals carcasses enter the meat processing plant while their heads and hides come to his studio," said Coach Mike Towers. "Not only do the kids get to see the animals up close in all their beauty, but they also get to see a step by step demonstration of how it's done. James makes it very interesting."
Rifle club members got up close with some of the exotic wildlife found in this area, including elk, mountain lion, fallow dear, feral hog and white tail. Towers said, "Our next field trip will be to travel to Kyle Ranch and see some of the same exotic species in the wild."
After leaving the taxidermy studio, the youth proceeded to the dock where hunters bring their game animals for processing. At that point, Mike Schott the took over the tour, showing the boning and grinding areas, and the sausage curing area, which was filled with hundreds of sausages getting ready for eager hunters to come and retrieve.
As Schott explained, "We are a full service custom processing plant. We custom butcher the animal to the customer's specifications, and then vacuum pack, freeze, and box the meat for the customer." After the tour, everyone was treated to some venison salami - and none was left over.
For the second consecutive year, the Schotts tour was a big hit. Last year, everyone was fascinated by the sausage-making machine the best; this year it was the mountain lion!
4H shooters Jacob Cameron, Nicholas Stricker, Garrett Cielencki, Bailey Engle, Madelyn Engle, Kaylie Engle, Matthew Engle and Meghan McComas made the trip, along with some moms and dads.
Towers said, "I feel it's important to teach these kids not to waste game when they take it. It's not right to just shoot such a magnificent animal and not honor him with his place on the wall and to utilize his meat for our own nourishment. Ethical hunters should respect the sacred bond between the game animal and the hunter - which goes back to the time of Native Americans and even primal man. We want our kids to be safe, responsible and ethical hunters."
The Schotts have moved into a new facility on Highway 16 just south of the old facility. It is a combination Shell convenience store, meat market and taxidermy studio. Rodney Schott owns the taxidermy studio and Mike Schott owns the meat processing facility.