A Choctaw taxidermist won a national championship in one of the whitetail divisions for his mount of a white deer at the recent National Taxidermists Association convention and competition in Rogers, Ark.
It was the first national championship after many state and regional awards for Danny Keener, a taxidermist for more than a quarter of a century.
Keener, 56, did something different with the white deer brought to him for mounting by an Oklahoma hunter. With the hunter’s permission, he incorporated a Chickasaw Indian legend called “Ghost of the White Deer” as part of the mount.
The legend is about an Indian brave named Blue Jay and an Indian maiden named Bright Moon who fall in love and want to get married, Keener said. Bright Moon was the chief’s daughter and he would not allow them to marry until the brave kills a white deer, beleived to be magical, he said.
The white deer shoulder mount sits atop Pacific redwood roots. Keener typed the story of the Chickasaw legend on a burnt piece of parchment paper and added it to the redwood roots.
On the back, Keener painted a bluejay and added a beaded-portrait of an Indian maiden gazing at the moon. He also placed arrows and an Indian-made quiver on the display.
Keener, who had finished second twice before in the whitetail division at the national competition, thinks the added element of the Indian story impressed the judges enough to put him over the top this year.
“That got me quite a few bonus points,” he said.
Keener received the white deer for taxidermy after the 2010 hunting season and asked the hunter if he could use it in competition. He spent one year working on the display and gave it to the hunter after the national contest.
“It was just a super immaculate white deer,” he said.
Keener said he received two white deer from Oklahoma hunters that year.
“I had never had one before in 26 years as a taxidermist,” he said.