Leland Reinier, owner of Big Cat Taxidermy, works on a customer’s leopard. Reinier has owned the business for six years after working with his father in Steamboat Springs.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Leland Reinier, owner of Big Cat Taxidermy, works on a customer’s leopard. Reinier has owned the business for six years after working with his father in Steamboat Springs.

My Life My Words: Leland Reinier - Life and work among animals

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Occupation:

Owner, Big Cat Taxidermy

“I was born in Grand Junction. I went to high school in Steamboat for a couple of years, but I graduated high school there in Grand Junction. I have kind of lived all over the state. I then went to Mesa State College for a couple of years and decided I didn’t like college, so then I moved to Denver and went to taxidermy school.

“My dad went to school for taxidermy, too, and he opened up B&L Taxidermy in 1990. He started me in the business when I was about 12 years old.

“About 2001, my dad got hurt in a bad car accident just north of town on Highway 13. It was during hunting season, so I moved back to Steamboat where he lived and helped him out because his business was also being a taxidermist.

“I met my wife at a rodeo. I rodeo for kind of a hobby because it’s something to break the monotony of work. We met while I was in Steamboat Springs. We will be married for six years in June. We have a 3-year-old girl who is about to turn 4 in July.”

“I came to Craig about six years ago because I just needed to get out on my own. My dad and I still get along good to this day, but we just kind of needed to get apart. I came to Craig to start a taxidermy shop. (Craig) kind of has the hunting feel, you know? To start a taxidermy shop, it just fit really well to start it in Craig. We like this area in northwest Colorado, so we didn’t really want to leave that. I have a lot of friends and a lot of outfitters that live here. We have been in business for six years, so I think we have built a highly

successful business.”

“My brother worked for me, and I’ve had as many as three employees, but times have slowed down, hunting seasons have slowed down. It’s a luxury business and people are cutting out a lot of their luxuries right now, and unfortunately, taxidermy is one of them. We’ve had to make some adjustments with the bad economic times. Hours for me can be as little as 30 or as much as 70-plus hours. I work quite a bit, but I love what I do. I’m fortunate in that. I work some Sundays so I can work without people stopping by.”

“I like to hunt. My dad started me in it. I’ve been fortunate enough to go a lot of places. Last summer I got to travel to Africa, where I was able to kill a leopard and many other species. This business has allowed me to do a lot with a lot of things. I consider myself pretty fortunate. Because we are in Craig, I think that is why I have been able to do a lot of this stuff.”

“Between hunting and roping, I don’t really have many other hobbies. I like to team rope, and with that, that’s all the time I really have allowed or left to me.”

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