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Lasting legacy: The art of a York County taxidermist

Corey Gladfelter, the owner of Gladfelter Taxidermy in York County, has been perfecting the craft for more than two decades.

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — While some may not love the idea of taxidermy, many take up the activity here in south central Pennsylvania and consider it a form of art. 

Corey Gladfelter, the owner of Gladfelter Taxidermy in York County, has been perfecting the craft for more than two decades. 

"When I was a little kid, I thought I was going to be a veterinarian," Gladfelter said. "So, I'm kind of working with animals, but in a whole different aspect of it." 

In his younger years, Gladfelter says he was back in forth between going to art school. However, to be a successful taxidermist, Gladfelter says an artistic nack is needed. 

"You're a little bit of a sculptor, a woodworker, a painter, a carpenter... there's a lot of different parts," he said. "[But] the biggest part is the artistic part because if you're not artistic, it's not happening." 

The process isn't just difficult, it's also long. For a mounted deer head, Gladfelter estimates it takes about eight months to a year until the process is completely finished. 

There's also a difference between what he does and pet taxidermy. 

"I don't do pets," he told FOX43. "I don't want to deal with the emotional part of it. I had a guy call in one time [because] his girlfriend's iguana died. She brings this thing in, it's wrapped in a blanket and she's crying. I was like 'Uhh.' That's a whole other ball game." 

However, that hasn't stopped Gladfelter from performing some pretty interesting taxidermies, including ostriches, giraffes and alligators. 

What is the hardest part to perfect? According to Gladfelter, it's all in the eyes. 

"Setting the eyes can make or break something. The pupil on the eye, that's what you want horizontal to the floor," he said. 

When the word 'taxidermy' is brought up, most don't know exactly what to expect. According to Gladfelter, when people meet him and find out about his profession, what they see doesn't always match up with what they expect. 

"This lady [one time] was like, 'I thought all taxidermists were like some hillbilly rednecks.' And I was like, 'I'm sure there's some, but there's a lot of us that aren't." 

Perfectly preserving and mounting the animals also leaves a lasting legacy. 

"I'll be dead and there'll still be stuff hanging in people's houses that I had mounted," said Gladfelter. 

For those interested in learning more about Gladfelter Taxidermy, the Windsor Township business can be contacted at 717-244-2245. 

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