Local taxidermist finds niche market

Published 6:34 pm Sunday, June 17, 2012

Daily Star photo/KATIE ROHMAN Scott Wilson opened Bussero Bottoms Taxidermy recently at 225 E. Main St., Niles.

Businessman Scott Wilson’s fourth endeavor started as a hobby he picked up in the Army.

Wilson was stationed in Germany shortly before the start of the Gulf War when a Frenchman taught him the art of taxidermy.

“No fur, no feathers” was the rule in the barracks, so he honed his skills on fish. He continued to mount fish as a hobby when he returned to the U.S.

“Fish are the hardest,” said Wilson, who learned how to do waterfowl and mammals as well.

“If you can find it in Michigan, I’ve done it,” he said.

Wilson wanted to expand his education, so he attended advanced taxidermy school in Montana last year.

A niche market

He opened his business, Bussero Bottom Taxidermy, recently in the back of his wife’s business, Colorful Stitches, at 225 E. Main St., Niles.

“There aren’t a lot of taxidermists, and it’s a niche market,” he said. “It’s a competitive world out there, and I’m always looking for a niche market.”

The unusual name for the business has family ties.

Wilson’s relatives were poor sharecroppers in southern Indiana. They lived in the marshland — referred to as the “bottoms.” His family lived in Bussero Creek.

Wilson is known most for his first business, Scott A. Wilson Heating & A/C, which he started 18 years ago in his hometown of Mishawaka. He relocated to Niles eight years ago.

His second business is Scott A. Wilson Real Estate Investment, which specializes in rental properties in Mishawaka and in northern Michigan.

His wife relocated the third business, Colorful Stitches, five years ago from Alpena, Mich., to Niles.

Authentic as possible

Wilson said customers can expect a mount to take six to nine months to complete. Mounts are sent to a tanner; he doesn’t do that part of the process in-house.

Fall is the busiest time of the year for Wilson because it is hunting season.

Everything on a mount is original except for the eyes and tongue. Coldwater varieties of fish require an artificial head because they are too fatty. He receives many raccoons, which are shot or trapped.

“Believe it or not, the smaller the animal, the more difficult it is to do,” Wilson said.

Customers select the form, and a catalog is available. He also custom-designs the base of the mount to look like a natural environment.

“We remove the skin from the carcass, and we can pose it any way. I’ll try my best to make it look as authentic as possible.”

Bussero Bottoms Taxidermy is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and evenings and weekends by appointment. It can be reached at 683-7501 or scott@nilestaxidermy.com. Visit it online at nilestaxidermy.com.