Chuck Berg’s 50th birthday is especially memorable for him for two reasons. For one, he thought he was going to lose an eye when he accidentally hit himself in the eye with a deer antler. Fortunately, he escaped with just a shiner while keeping his eye. The 50th birthday gathering was also memorable because it was the setting of a life-changing discussion. Here Chuck and Dave Hubbard made the decision to expand their taxidermy operation and move it to a new location near the Telford Rest Area.
The Advantage Taxidermy business was a long time coming for co-owners Chuck and Dave. They both began practicing taxidermy in their youth. Chuck Berg happened to have a biology teacher who was also a taxidermist and included the art of taxidermy in his curriculum. It was this high school class that led to a lifelong hobby, and eventually a successful business. At the time, Chuck never imagined his interest in taxidermy would lead to a career. I doubt that his business partner Dave Hubbard was thinking of a business opportunity either, when, at the age of 12, he took a mail order taxidermy class. What they both discovered was a hobby that incorporated their artistic natures with their love of hunting and the outdoors.
It seems like fate that brought these two taxidermy aficionados together in 1996. Before they met, Chuck had a long career in retail and now is in the construction business. Dave runs a cattle/hay business. Upon meeting, the two became fast friends discovering they had much in common. They shared a passion for hunting, fishing, camping, and anything outdoors. Lo and behold, they both enjoyed taxidermy as a hobby.
Chuck and Dave’s first taxidermy shop was in Chuck’s basement in Wilbur. As one can imagine, taxidermy is a space-intensive endeavor. When Chuck’s basement became too small, they moved their operations to Dave’s 12 X 20 outbuilding by his home near Davenport. They soon outgrew that space as well. On that fateful day when Dave almost lost an eye to an antler, they made the decision to build a 32 X 60 shop along Highway 2 between Davenport and Creston and include an upstairs apartment for Chuck to live in. The shop includes a large lobby of display animals, a workshop, storage room and salt room for preparing hides.
The business has consistently grown over the years, especially recently. Chuck says that 2019 was a record year. Then 2020 saw that record smashed by double. This year is on target to see even higher demand. He explains that several factors contributed to the increased demand for taxidermy services. In 2019 there was a smaller harvest. Wild game had the chance to grow bigger. The larger the size of the animal, the more hunters are apt to want to have it mounted. Then there’s the snowball effect. As Chuck and Dave’s creations are displayed in more and more houses, more potential customers see them, and are so impressed they seek Advantage Taxidermy’s services. “Word of mouth is the best advertising,” explains Chuck.
With such growth in demand, Chuck and Dave needed to hire an additional taxidermist. Luckily, the “extremely talented” Lanica Hodge agreed to join their team after owning her own taxidermy shop north of Davenport for years. “It’s been fantastic,” says Chuck. “She fits in well and can do any and all of the different facets of the taxidermy world.”
Like so many of the Lincoln County businesses owners I’ve interviewed, Chuck feels overwhelmed by the support from the local community. While they get plenty of orders from as far away as New York, Alaska, and Texas, Chuck stresses that locals are the backbone of the business. “I’ve been stunned by the local support,” he admits. “We couldn’t have more appreciation for the locals.”
Their motto, “bringing your trophies to life” is clearly no mere lip service. Maybe it’s the added details, such as a small footprint in the re-created sand, a pinecone or unique branch, that make their creations so lifelike. I suspect it also has to do with their affinity with nature and love of the outdoors. What Chuck says he personally enjoys about taxidermy is that it’s “a way to honor the animals.” Viewing the photo gallery of Chuck and Dave’s creations on the Advantage Taxidermy website, one can sense the honor bestowed on all these different beasts of nature. The photo gallery looks like a museum of natural history, with beautiful examples including bear, deer, mountain goats, and a variety of felines, including a roaring cougar. The photo of the zebra is so lifelike, it took my breath away!
With such an impressive photo gallery, one can’t help but feel called to visit their lobby of display animals. Chuck, Dave, and Lanica welcome everyone to heed this calling and visit them. You can share hunting stories, marvel at their works of taxidermy art, and discover the perfect talent for your next trophy!