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Taxidermy museum wants kids to hunt, embrace nature

John Carlisle, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Outdoors

"You don't take killing an animal lightly. You don't let an animal suffer," Voss said. "But this way you know where your meat comes from."

Like a lot of boys raised in Michigan, Voss learned how to hunt from his dad.

Marvin Guntzviller grew up in then-rural Northville at a time when the woods were the main source of entertainment for a country kid.

"They didn't have TVs, and they were lucky if they had radios, so in his dad's lifetime, kids to do something. They went outside," said Voss' 63-year-old wife, Patricia, who runs the museum's gift shop. "His dad could name every bird as it flew over, and it was because he was outdoors. Now, kids get home from school, turn the TV on, watch a cartoon, or they're playing some game or whatever, and if they go outside it's to go to some theme park."

An old man with a little taxidermy shop near Marvin's house taught Marvin the trade, and he rounded out the lesson with a mail-order correspondence course. At 15 years old he mounted his first animal -- a prairie chicken shot by his 13-year-old brother Harvey. And by 1928 Marvin opened his own business in Northville.

Like him, Voss became an outdoorsman early on. "I was born into it," he said. "There probably wasn't a frog or raccoon or muskrat safe on our farm. I had a BB gun to start with, and I'd go down after school when pheasant season opened. I'd sit there and shoot 'em with a pellet gun. I probably wore that gun out."

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And Voss passed the sport down to his own sons, the way his dad did to him.

"They had BB guns when they were born," he said, and he was being literal. "They each got a gun and a fishing rod. I couldn't take the gun in the hospital, but I took the fishing rod in."

By 1971 the whole family moved Up North and brought the taxidermy business from Northville with them. It was just like starting over.

"The last year we were down there I did 400 dear heads a year," Voss said of Northville. "The first year we moved up here -- 36. People didn't know us."

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