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Career in Flight 

Aaron Miller Finds Success as Sole Proprietor of Final Finish Taxidermy

Writer / Amy Lant-Wenger
Photographer / Kari Lipscomb

Final Finish TaxidermyThe sight of winged creatures in flight, soaring in magnificent movement, is something that has entranced Aaron Miller ever since he was a young boy. Through the years the allure of nature has evolved from a mere respect and fondness to a true calling. Now Miller has successfully found a way to parlay what began as a hobby into a fascinating career.

Miller is a skillful artisan and the sole proprietor of Final Finish Taxidermy, located in rural Noble County. His pastimes are the embodiment of what one would consider for an outdoorsman, including hunting, fishing and trapping. The inspiration for this most unique vocation actually came to Miller from within his own family, and he specifically credits his uncle for stoking those sparks. He recalls that his uncle was an avid hunter and was actively seeking someone with expertise and proficiency in the field of taxidermy so he could create his own trophy animals.

In time Miller followed suit, and despite not having a particularly strong scholastic background in art, his natural talents were quickly realized. He notes that it has been five years since he started working with his own animals, and three years since it became a full-fledged business enterprise.

The confines resulting from the pandemic marked a turning point for Miller, who had previously worked in the recreational vehicle industry. Suddenly Miller, like so many other folks, was directly affected by the limitations of quarantining. He found himself with time on his hands, which he subsequently used to his advantage for perfecting his skills.

I was really able to expand my skills during COVID,” Miller says. I found that I was able to do this on a full-time basis.” It was not long until people began to take notice. He is drawn to the challenge of complicated projects, and says that since making Final Finish Taxidermy his primary career endeavor, the field is “where my knowledge and my work has really improved.”

Presently, Millers range of sculptural works includes mammals, along with a variety of waterfowl and other types of birds. When asked if there are any animals that he is not willing to take on, he says with a laugh, No fish.” Miller is also fully licensed by the Department of Natural Resources as a practicing taxidermist – credentials that are granted and closely monitored at both the federal and state levels.

Final Finish TaxidermyWhen a customer visits Final Finish Taxidermy with an animal and an idea, Miller generally gives them a lead time of one year to complete the project. Among the reasons for the lengthy turnaround, he explains, is that he strives to create the most authentic, three-dimensional perspective of the animal, devoting painstaking attention to detail. To achieve this, Miller uses what he calls live reference images.” He uses true-to-life imagery to replicate even the most subtle variations in colors, textures and other features.

For example, when positioning birds, many of Millers most renowned creations capture a specific moment or activity within their habitats. Some of the most striking examples illustrate birds shown in full wingspan, mothers nesting on eggs, or birds perched atop sturdy branches. One award-winning creation in particular, A Mothers Love,” depicts a mother bird nesting on eggs that Miller crafted using wooden materials and epoxy. Generally, recreating the heads of animals is one of the more intricate tasks, and Miller uses hand-formed molds to ensure the most realistic images. His dexterity for details is astonishing, and he mentions that while working with birds, he attaches each individual feather by hand.  

Within a relatively short span of time since Final Finish Taxidermy was launched, Miller has become an award-winning member of the Association of Indiana Taxidermists, where he now holds a seat on the board of directors. Miller also belongs to the Ohio Taxidermist Association and the Michigan Taxidermist Association.

Miller has participated in several competitions in this three-state region, and the walls of his gallery serve as a testimony to his growth and his gifts as an artist. Millers enterprise is truly taking flight, not unlike the beautiful birds and vignettes he creates.

Final Finish Taxidermy is located at 8430 North 700 West, near Ligonier. Miller can be reached via phone at 260-215-3542, or via email at finalfinishtax@gmail.com. Miller maintains an active social media presence on Facebook and Instagram. His full list of awards, along with a variety of photographs, can be found at finalfinishtaxidermy.com.

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