CLEMMONS, N.C. – Sisters Lacey and Macey Tugwell have a lot in common, and not just because they’re twins.

The two 12-year-olds, (yes 12) entered to compete against each other at the 36th Annual North Carolina Taxidermists Association Competition in the Amateur division.

However, the term Amateur doesn’t necessarily fit these two young taxidermists, since they’re at this level because they’ve already surpassed the qualifications for the Youth division.

Lacey mounted a gemsbok hunted by a family friend in Africa, while Macey mounted a fallow dear, both to compete in the Game Head category.

As they grow in the art, they have some big shoes to fill. Their father is the President of the NC Association and has been in the business for decades.

Sabra Cahoon, a 26-year-old, third generation taxidermist from Eastern North Carolina, serves as the organization’s passionate and devoted Vice President.

Cahoon has earned the second highest award in the field in ‘Excellence,’ and jokes that she still doesn’t dare to enter for Masters and have to compete with her father, one of her role models.

She says to her, this trade is just as any other passed down in a family through generations, no matter how different or weird it may seem.

This year the competition has 135 entries in various divisions and categories that range based on experience, but also according to the type of animal being exhibited.

According to Dean Ursitti, a judge at the competition and taxidermist of 28 years, more and more women are beginning to get involved in the art and business of taxidermy.

“Now, every show you go to there’s at least four or five women,” Ursetti said.

Younger taxidermists are also in the spotlight. With newer technologies that allow for innovative techniques, children and teens are learning the craft at a faster rate than generations past.

The Tugwell twins know what they do isn’t common among kids their age, but they enjoy it and the way it brings their family together more than anything else.

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