Story by Jon Dinan
Paulo Neves, 35, helped run Neves Taxidermy in Bethel for 16 years with his father Fernando Neves before going solo with his own store in Swan Lake called Artistic Creations Taxidermy & Hunting Consultant.
He decided to break away from his father’s business because he was drawn to the freedoms that come with owning his shop. “I like the fact that I can be my own boss and set my own hours,” Neves admitted. Although they are now competitors, Paulo says it’s not an issue because most of his clients are not from this area and most of his father’s are.
Out of his 32 x 32 foot shop, Neves has created thousands of lifelike mounts (about 120-150 per year), and as a result, he’s accumulated countless taxidermy awards. He’s won the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Best Elk in Show, Best Whitetail in Show in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Conneticut state competitions, Best Habitat and Mount in Show for New York State, and Best Non-North American Game in Show for New York state.
He will be going to the World Show outside Chicago in May bringing six pieces which he’s keeping under tight wraps to prevent competitors from gaining any type of advantage.
“I’ve done every kind of game animal, even lions, giraffes, and elephants,” said Neves, who has been to Africa himself eight times. “I don’t want to take anything away from anybody else, but nobody in the area has my kind of training,” he added.
Not only did Neves apprentice over a decade and a half for his father who went to school for taxidermy at the Pocono Institute of Taxidermy in Pennsylvania, but he has trained with some of the world’s best taxidermists including three-time world champion Ken Walker, and national champions Kevin Conroy and John Matthews.
“I learned from the best, but in this business you can never stop learning,” Neves stated.
Neves typically gets around $575 for an average whitetail deer head, but he is looking to drop his prices during gun season for Sullivan County residents.
“It’s tough running your own business in this economy, so it’s important that we keep our customers happy,” Neves said. “For anyone looking for quality work here’s the place. 95 percent of my pieces are customized and all of my pieces are accurate to the tee,” he added.
Artistic Creations Taxidermy & Hunting Consultant is open from seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. all year round.