Hello everyone! My name is Heather Miller, I am 24 years
old and live in the small town of Halifax Pa on my family’s
farm. I am a full time taxidermist at my own shop here in
Halifax. I opened Wild by Design Taxidermy on January 1st
2016, so I am still very new to running my own business. I
really enjoy working on mammals of all kinds. From the small
to the large I really enjoy anything that I can put expression
and detail into.
My shop keeps me busy year round, which I am very
thankful for! I usually get to slow down a little around
September which is nice since it allows me to do some of the
things I like to do in my spare time. Other than taxidermy I
enjoying hunting and fishing of course, but I also enjoy to ride
my horses, show my cattle, baking, cooking, riding
snowmobile and doing anything adventurous. I grew up in 4H
and FFA showing cattle, goats, horses, pigs and sheep. I have
always enjoyed being around
animals and admiring the beauty
that they have.
Which leads into how I got
interested in the field of
taxidermy. I was always drawing
and painting animals as a kid
and I loved art and being
creative. I had always thought
that taxidermy would have been
a really neat profession where I
could use my love of animals
and artistic talent. After attending a little college I decided that
it was not for me and I needed something that was more
hands on.
I contacted our local taxidermist Robert Swope of Swopes
Taxidermy to pick his brain about the different taxidermy
schools. He said that he could teach me there at his shop, so
that’s the route that I took. After learning the different species
I began working for him full time for 4 years. He decided he
would like to retire and I took the opportunity of taking over his
business and location. It
was a great blessing

and I am so thankful that I was able to jump right into an
established business and have someone who taught me a lot
of great things about running a successful taxidermy shop.
I remember when I went to my first PTA convention in
Seven Springs. I thought it was the coolest thing to see all of
the suppliers and sit in on the seminars where I learned SO
much. I remember walking through the competition room
where it was filled from wall to wall with mounts of all kinds
and I was taking pictures of everything! At that point I wasn’t
even paying attention to ribbons because to me everything
looked so nice. I thought about how neat it would be to do a
piece and enter it there at the show. So I entered a red fox
shoulder pedestal in the amateur division and received a blue
ribbon and a best of category. I was shocked and it got me
really excited to enter something else. I missed the next year
but in 2016 I entered a lifesize raccoon in the professional
division and I was just hoping for a red
ribbon because I knew how hard it was
to get a blue ribbon at our state show
and thought that there’s no way I could
be at that level. Well when I walked into
the competition room and saw a blue
ribbon sitting next to my coon I was
ecstatic! I then took him to the National
Show in June and received a National
Champion award for him.
I encourage everyone to compete,
no matter what level you think you may
be at. The only way to improve your work is to have someone
tell you what to improve. The great thing about critiques is that
they will give you little tips and tricks to help you achieve the
desired look you are going for. There are a million different
ways to do something, and sometimes one way might work
better for you than what you are currently doing. That’s what is
so great about attending the state shows and competitions
because you get to talk to so many other taxidermists and you
will discover things that you never thought about.
I hope to see you at our PTA state show! If you ever have
any questions I am more than willing to help you with what I
can! There’s no need to be shy. I learned this over a few years
so just take it from me. To all of those that have given me
some great ideas and answering many questions I thank you
so much!!