Tammy Guess, not only hunts wild game, she also turns some of her harvests into decorative items for her home and for craft shows.
Her newest project is using the recycled glass available free at the Lyon County Convenience/Recycling Center to decorate deer skulls.
“I had seen that Wade (White) had posted on the Lyon County Facebook page about this big bin of recycled glass,” she said, noting that she’s always looking for something different to use in decorating. “He said it was rolled so the edges wouldn’t cut.”
Guess has a friend out West, who uses Swarovski crystals to decorate deer skulls. But the crystals are very expensive, and taxidermy is quite costly also.
“Unless it’s just a gigantic deer or elk we won’t have it taxidermied,” she said, adding that the idea of using the glass came to mind after she saw White’s post.
“I thought, ‘Well, if this glass would clean up, it might look OK,’” she said. “Obviously it’s got a lot of browns in it ... but it also has blues and greens from coke bottles and clear glass. I had to scald it; it was already cleaned.”
“Wade’s giving it away to anybody who wants to use it, so I sent Junior (her husband) over and Tommy (Melton) gave him two buckets full, and he brought it home. I washed an ice cream bucket full, and then cleaned it with alcohol and let it dry good.
“It kind of gives this skull a stained glass effect,” she said. “So I’m thinking I’m going to paint the next skull and put the glass on it, and then maybe find some kind of thick resin to put over it to give it more of an in-depth, 3-D look.”
Guess prepares the skulls herself. She investigated the possibility of getting beetles — a species many hunters use to clean animal skulls. But they are expensive, and must be fed year round.
“With a one buck limit (per person per year in Kentucky), you can’t keep them year round,” Guess said. “I don’t have the luxury of having those beetles, so I put Dawn dishwashing liquid and 20-Mule Team Borax in a big pot and boil the skulls outside.”
First she removes all the soft tissue possible, and after boiling the skull, it looks like a boiled soup bone. That technique results in what is known as a European mount. She had several skulls already boiled and dried when she learned about the recycled glass.
“It’s trial and error, something different,” she said of the process. “You could buy Christmas ornaments that don’t have anything on them, and you could dip them in glue and put the glass on them. I think it would be pretty.” She uses a clear craft glue that sets quickly.
Guess, her husband, and two of their four children, Cody and Macayla, hunt all game including deer, elk, and wild turkey.
“Macayla likes the bling, and the deer she harvested last year, she wanted done in pink Swarovski crystals,” her mother said. “I’ve got hers drying. I haven’t put the crystals on it yet.”
Guess also makes wreaths from deer antlers, turkey feathers, duck decoys, camo burlap and other assorted outdoor items.
“I’ve got wreaths made out of the kids’ first bucks’ antlers and turkeys’ feathers hanging on my front door,” she said.
Her inspiration for hunting wreaths came from her mother who does craft projects such as door wreaths for arts and crafts fairs.
“Mom was doing all these fancy wreaths, and she was doing pretty good (selling them), but then she had a lady wanting a hunting wreath,” Guess said. “She said, ‘Honey, I have not a clue.” I said, ‘Well, I’ll do it.
“You take the camo burlap, and regular burlap, and put the deer antlers in it, put in duck decoys, and turkey feathers,” she said. “I made 10 last weekend, and my 10 sold before she sold five of hers at Reelfoot Lake.”