My name is Nina Lukaszewicz and I’m 19 years old. I’ve been a licensed taxidermist in Beaver County, PA for over two years. I started taxidermy when I was 14 years old after shooting a small fork-horn buck. It was the first deer I had shot with my new .243, and I wanted to have it mounted. Not being able to afford having it done by someone else, I decided to jump in and attempt it myself. Being self taught was difficult, because there was a lot of trial and error. That’s where the PTA came in to help. I followed the advice given to me on the Taxidermy.net forums and joined my state association, later attending my first show in 2006. I got a third place that year in the Junior Amateur division with my first competition mount, and learned tons from the judge’s critique. Ever since then, I have always returned to PTA’s taxidermy competitions, and have benefited greatly from my experiences there – not only the critiques, but meeting new people, seeing old friends, and talking to suppliers. My Mom goes to the annual show with me every year, and even she, a non-taxidermist, has made friends there and always anticipates going back. This is one of the many reasons the PTA is a family oriented organization. Everyone is welcome, so bring your family along to the next show, because they will be able to learn more about taxidermy and appreciate our wildlife art.
Other than taxidermy, I enjoy the visual arts and hunting. My favorite is whitetail hunting, both archery and rifle. I shoot a Hoyt Kobalt and a Remington 30-06. I enjoy getting out in the woods and spending time with my family and friends, making memories, and filling my tag when the opportunity presents itself.
This past year I came home from the PTA convention with a carload of new supplies and lots of new inspiration. I soon went back to work in my shop and got over the slump of feeling unmotivated. I finished up all my customer work and finally got to work on a few things of my own. Recently I have started to really get into alterations and custom forms. I already have some great ideas for next year’s show and cannot wait!
I encourage all beginners to join the PTA to see all this awesome organization has to offer. It has been said that our state convention is the largest and very comparable to the World show. By attending these conventions, you will walk away with valuable information every time whether you bring in a mount for a critique, attend a seminar, or talk to other taxidermists. You will meet new people as I did, and create lasting friendships. Competitions are a great way to improve, and I recommend any beginners out there to just jump in and bring a piece to be critiqued. It will truly improve your work when you apply what you have learned. Thank you PTA!!