An outdoors Renaissance Man: Cody Gould
It’s hard to imagine today but there was a time in the western world when the majority of people were illiterate. Even royalty were among the uneducated of the day while the clergy were often the only and most educated. The Black Plague ravaged Europe, sending more than 50 million or 60% of Europe’s population to an early demise. People relied on their faith and were apt to trust that God was in control during a time when much appeared out of control.
It was only during the Renaissance that civilization was able to emerge from these Dark Ages. Science was again embraced and the grip of the religious institutions lessoned. The Renaissance was a period of revitalized learning and began a rise in Humanism. Emphasis was now placed on what was possible in the hands of the individual alone. Specific figures rose to prominence during this period. The most renown during this period would be Leonardo da Vinci, likely the most exceptional example of being multi-talented. Just look to the below description from Wikipedia:
Italian polymath of the Renaissance, whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter and tank, he epitomised the Renaissance humanist ideal.
From his example and others during the time you hear the phrase Renaissance Man.
a cultured man of the Renaissance who was knowledgeable, educated, or proficient in a wide range of fields.
(sometimes lowercase) a present-day man who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field.
In today’s modern society, our culture of consumerism and convenience, we throw away so many things our ancestors would have never thought to dispose of. Items that could be repurposed or used again later end up in the trash bin. Many have not had to do without or needed to adopt a scarcity mindset because we’ve not endured the hard times like the Middle Ages described above or the Great Depression like our grandparents or great grandparents had.
The ability, interest, and then initiative to develop multiple skills is likewise lost in a workforce of specialists but it is important for many of us to have multiple things we do well for a variety of reasons. In addition to making you a more valuable workforce asset or business owner, becoming competent in a variety of tasks helps us become well-rounded individuals. Being able to pick up new areas of expertise and skill happens more quickly when we’ve already got 3 or 4 under our belt already. This piece from the Art of Manliness blog is an interesting place to start.
This all serves as an interesting introduction for an interesting guy. Cody Gould is not only a Taxidermist but has also developed artistic and other talents to augment his primary skill. Also working as a fishing guide and being a talented wildlife artist and photographer, he wears many hats and brings depth to his work. I was fascinated by a recent sample of his work and thought his story good inspiration for each of us.
Tell us about yourself. How did you get started as an taxidermist and angler too? I live and grew up in Northern Maine in “The County.” Growing up i was always active in outdoor recreation such as camping, hunting and fishing. Along side that i had an interest in art. I always enjoyed working with my hands and creating things, especially when it had something to do with nature. In high school i started a small business where i turned deer and duck calls on the lathe. I soon realized that i enjoyed working with fellow outdoorsmen. Taxidermy always struck me as fascinating and college was out of the picture as i did not enjoy school so i started researching taxidermy schools. I wanted to take the schooling seriously so i chose Pennsylvania Institute of Taxidermy. This was a 7 month long school, almost triple your typical taxidermy school. I studied under two master taxidermists and put in over 1000 hours at this school.
After i graduated i quickly began the steps to becoming licensed in my state. 8 months after the start up of my business i made the decision to go full time and quit my part time job. This was a big risk but i was ready for it. A year later i doubled business and now three years later i’ve almost quadrupled business. I don’t pride myself in being the cheapest or fastest but in producing the best mount i possibly can with the knowledge i currently have. I never settle for where i am at and always push and critique myself to be a better taxidermist. I have many taxidermist friends throughout Maine and other states that have helped me these past three years grow and continue to grow as a taxidermist in my business, Crown of Maine Taxidermy.
The summer of 2017 i got offered a job part time in the summer as a fly fishing guide at Matagamon Wilderness. I jumped on this opportunity and went through the hard process of becoming a licensed Maine guide. Im working my two dream jobs and loving every second of it!
Do you have a favorite fishing story. Maybe one that provided(s) inspiration for your work? I’ve been fly fishing for almost 10 years. Since then my goal was to catch a trophy brown trout in my local river, the Meduxnekeag. This river is full of brook trout and very few brown trout. To catch a brown trout of any size is a feat in of itself. The summer of 2017 i dedicated my evenings in figuring out how to catch these elusive Meduxnekeag browns. One brown trout from this river a year is huge for most people. I began to realize your chances became much higher when the sun began to set. So one night i went out and started fishing a caddis hatch in the dark. Quickly i caught a 20 inch brown which was my PB out of that river. I thought this was the trophy i was looking for. I was wrong. Exactly a week later i got to the river early that evening, around 6 o clock, to catch some brookies. I noticed in 2 feet of water near a spring seepage a small disturbance in the surface. I studied the water and saw a giant fish in the shallows. I switch my fly from a small caddis to a meaty stonefly, a size 6 stimulator. My first cast was 6 inches to far. No response. Second cast was 6 inches short. No response. Third cast landed right inline with the fish. He slowly came to the fly and opened his mouth without breaking the surface. Like the flush of a toilet the fly whirl-pooled into its mouth. I set the hook and the fish took off like a rocket to the bottom of the pool. I knew at this point i had hook my largest fish yet. I knew i could mess this up so i let the fish run and run again. Giving him as much play to ensure i didnt snap my line. Finally the fish showed me its side and slid into my net. It was the monster Meduxnekeag brown i was looking for! Measuring in at 26 inches. My excitement was through the roof. I couldnt believe it. My hands were shaking like a leaf. Finally after of years of trying i caught one of these beautiful fish.
What are the unique fishing opportunities near you, favorite kind of fishing to do, tackle tips or tricks? Two hours south of me is the West Branch of the Penobscot river just outside of Baxter State Park. This river is one of the best native landlocked salmon fisheries on the east coast. The landscape is rugged and river challenging and big. Large native brook trout also inhabit this water. Typically i make a few trips a year to this river when i have the free time. I do extremely well nymphing. Some patterns im confident in are large stonefly nymphs and caddis nymphs. The West Branch has a very large caddis and stonefly hatch that at times looks like a cloud. Smelts also work very well swung through the current or dead drifted under a nymphing rig.
In the last year i tried my hand at european style nymphing and have really gotten to love it. When the fish are on bottom feeding its the way to go to catch fish. Recently, i returned from a trip to Montana in which i landed 54 fish in 4 hrs. One of my best days fishing. I still have a ton to learn but really enjoy getting better each trip.
No matter your chosen work, hobby, passion project, etc., there is likely room for you to grow. Look at ways you can become more balanced, multi-talented, and cultured or educated. It will not only serve your professional life but can inspire others at home, church, and beyond!
To learn more or have Cody do some taxidermy work for you, check out his page at Crown of Maine Taxidermy on Facebook.
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Patrick Ritter is the founder of River King Fishing, LLC. Raised near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the outdoors, especially fishing, has always been a passion.