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LibbyMt.com > News > February 2008 > Local couple featured in national hunting magazine

Mel and Ann Siefke . Photo by Kootenai Valley Record.
Mel and Ann Siefke
Mel and Ann Siefke stand with the mounted head of a trophy mule deer Ann took while hunting last fall near Libby. Photo by Kootenai Valley Record.

Kootenai Valley Record. Photo by Kootenai Valley Record.
Kootenai Valley Record
Local couple featured in national hunting magazine
Mel and Ann Siefke, Libby’s Wildlife Recapture taxidermy
by Brent Shrum, Kootenai Valley Record
February 26, 2008

The current issue of Eastmans’ Hunting Journal is a wallhanger for Mel and Ann Siefke.

The magazine’s 17th annual Mule Deer Issue features a trophy buck mounted by Mel, who operates Libby’s Wildlife Recapture taxidermy shop with his partner Kevin Neidigh, along with a story inside by Ann about her hunt for her own trophy muley last fall.

The issue marks the first time Eastmans’ has ever featured a mounted head on the cover, Mel said. The nontypical muley scored over 300 points and was taken in 2007 by 14-year-old Kyle Lopez of Colorado.

Lopez contacted Mel through Eastmans’. Other mounts by Mel have been included over the years in trophy tours sponsored by the magazine, garnering nationwide exposure.

“They could have had anybody do it but they chose us, which was an honor,” Mel said.

Mounting the second biggest mule deer ever taken in Colorado and the 12th largest in the world – and the biggest taken in the last 20 years – will bring even more exposure to Mel’s studio when it goes on tour with Eastmans’ in 2009.

“He’s advertising for us, actually” Mel said of the young Colorado hunter. “The kid is passing out our brochures, so that is great advertising.”

Wildlife Recapture turns out about 500 to 600 jobs every year, Mel said, including 200 to 300 for Bass Pro Shops dioramas.

“We’re into mounting a lot of does right now, life-size does,” he said. “There’s about 60 of them.”

The shop is also licensed to receive trophies from African and Asian hunts. Mel will soon be working on a full-body mount of an African elephant for a hunter who plans to put it in his trophy room at his home. The same hunter now has his sights set on a pair of lions to go along with the elephant in a diorama.

“It’s a whole different world,” Mel said.

The African and Asian work helps ensure that Mel never really has an off-season.

“It never slows down for us, because when hunting season ends here, there’s always another season starting somewhere in the world,” he said.

Mel still manages to find some time to go hunting close to home, however, and recently mounted the big muley taken by his wife this past season near Libby. Ann’s buck, which scored 188 5/8 as a 7x9 nontypical, was her first muley and her first with a scorable rack.

In her story for Eastmans’, Ann relates how she often goes hunting with Mel but is usually content to stay close to the truck and to settle for a smaller deer. This year, though, when Mel spotted the huge buck along with another about a mile away – “straight up,” Mel said – she decided to make the hike along with him.

“I could barely see it with 10-power Swarovskis,” Mel said, but he could tell the buck was a big one.

“He said, ‘They’re huge, let’s go!’” Ann recalled.

Ann didn’t realize just how big the buck was at first.

“When I finally got up there, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was thinking it had better be big, as far as I walked.”

After a two-hour stalk, Ann made the shot with a .30-30 Marlin she won at last spring’s NRA banquet in Libby. The rifle is the first one she’s used that’s fit her properly, and it’s a keeper. Along with the muley buck, she took a moose and an antelope with the Marlin last season.

Editor’s Note: See the February 25, 2008 edition of the Kootenai Valley Record for the printed version of this story. The Kootenai Valley Record publishes once a week, on Monday, in Libby, Montana. They are a locally owned community newspaper, located at 403 Mineral Avenue in Libby. For in-county and out-of-county subscription information, call 406-293-2424, or e-mail kvrecord@gmail.com.

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