Deer Headdress

NOTE: The deer pictured is recycled. I bought it as a tanned skin from a professional tannery in Washington, where the deer was legally taken for meat. It lived a full life, and all parts of it were put it use, which is far more than can be said for the cows used to make your burgers.


I did the taxidermy myself, using opalite glass for the eyes to give the 'blind' effect.


If you don't like it, don't look.




I haven't been around on Flickr as often I used to be, in part due to the fact that I was busy with college, and running my business. Life has taken a few interesting turns in the last few months, and I love where said turns have taken me.


I've dropped out of college at SOU to focus on my business instead, and have adopted the lifestyle of the proverbial starving artist. Except that I'm not actually starving - I'm actually doing pretty well for myself, and am able to spend more time creating things I enjoy.


Looking back on the year, I've outlined a few defining moments:


First and foremost life-altering event was probably being hit by a drunk driver on mother's day. The crash, and what took place afterward, destroyed so much of me, and the PTSD I developed as a result could only be cured by copious amounts of time spent in the woods and wilds of the Siskiyou Mountains, where I learned two very important lessons from two very amazing animals.


Bear came to me as I slept in a fort in the woods not far from campus. He tested the integrity of my shelter as I listened to his heavy breathing not five feet from my face, and when he forced his weight onto the branches separating us, I was prompted to break out the mace. Bear was graceful in his retreat, and I doubt I actually hit him with the pepper spay; he seemed more startled by the fact that someone was inside the shelter he had been investigating. He made a sound like jaws clamping together, and melted away from the scene with much rustling over the leaf-litter and was gone.


A few days later, the boy who had been driving the car we crashed in told me that a mountain lion was spotted in Lithia Park. But I, with my "It'll never happen to me" mentality, decided that it was still a good idea to hike out to the park and make a bonfire late at night. While collecting wood, my headlamp caught two forward-facing eyes not twenty yards or so away up the hill, and I once again broke out the mace. But the cat was too far away to hit, so I stomped my feet and shouted at him, to which he only tilted his head to the side and slunk a few feet away, as though he were mocking my efforts.


I built up the fire as big and as fast as I could, then called the boy who'd been in the crash with me, begging him to come and get me. He said he would, and a half-hour later, he still hand't shown up. The mountain lion's eye-shine had disappeared from its spot on the hillside by now, and I had no idea where it was as my fire began to die. I was terrified. I was about to dial the police when a different friend texted me, and arrived not long thereafter to rescue my punk ass from my own stupidity.


The boy who'd been in the crash with me, as it turns out, had gone back to sleep, because apparently, rest was more important to him than the possibility of my getting mauled.


When summer arrived, I left Ashland in a hurry, packed up my gear, and headed off to Burning Man, where I was given the Playa Name "Bearslayer" after telling the story of how I maced Black Bear in the woods back in May. The name was fitting in a different sense, as well, because the boy I'd been in the crash with was a Grizzly Bear totem. I hated him by now. Yet he kept trying to contact me throughout the summer, trying to convince me to go to the chiropractor, as if he suddenly cared about me after all. Every time I was angry, depressed, or hurt thereafter, I didn't see the colors for the co-responding emotion; instead, I saw the colors for his personality.


Then, at the Burn, I got sick on edibles and threw up his personality colors in the porta-potty the night they burned the Man. I had literally expelled Grizzly Bear from my system, and I danced out of the restroom like a complete idiot, much to the amusement of those standing in line. This was a defining moment in my life - a whole new chapter had been opened.


Burning Man ended on September 5th, the day before I turned 20. It seemed oddly fitting that the theme for the year was "Rights of Passage". On my Birthday, I fell asleep in the bed of a truck next to the hotspings beside the Playa, and awoke to watch the sunrise. It was my first day of being 20, and for the first time since the crash, I knew everything was going to be okay.


Rights of Passage was one of the best weeks of my life.


When fall came, I returned to SOU, though my parents were unwilling to support me, so I paid for my own education. I had no idea then that it would be such a waste of time and money. But at least I know now that college isn't the place for me. Ashland was a haunting place after the crash, and I had a hard time calling it home.


Since then, I've moved back to Portland, Oregon, and am living in the attic of a beautiful historic home built in 1902. I share the house with a lovely family of eco-friendly hippies who are also amazing artists.


Given that I'm completely self-reliant now, and self-employed, I've found that I have a lot more time for the things I enjoy, including photography.


A friend of mine from Burning Man has a friend who is a photographer, who caught wind of my wares and wanted to take photos. So we packed up the car with a bunch of pelts and headed out to the greenspace, where there was still frost on the grass heads and the trees looked like skeletons.


I brought the deer with me, because I hadn't done a formal photoshoot with him yet, and wanted to show him off.


More of Casey's photography, including many more images from our taxidermy photoshoot, can be found here:


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Taken on December 11, 2011