We had the good fortune of connecting with Colin Hornback and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Colin, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My wife and I didn’t want to be tied to corporate America forever. We wanted to have the flexibility to pick our own schedule, work from home, and have the lifestyle we’ve dreamed about. It has also enabled me to do something I really love and has made work fun! Starting our own business has allowed us to move much closer towards those goals. When we began talking about truly pursuing our own business I had taken a great job for a major national brand that moved us out to Wisconsin. We really liked our experience there, but we wanted to get back to family and Colorado as a whole. I had just harvested my first buck, and we had taken to a taxidermist, and I kept saying, “I should do something like what Randy (the taxidermist) does.” After saying that 6-7 times, I finally thought, why not look at that. It was definitely a surprise as I didn’t grow up hunting or with mounts in the house, but it turned out to be a great move and is something I love to do!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Taxidermy is a very cool art form! There is so much more that goes into it than I ever imagined before learning how to do it. From getting the shape of the eyes and ears correct, to the muscle structure of the animal, ensuring the lips and hair lines all line up correctly… there is a ton that goes into making a beautiful mount.
There are a few ways we go above and beyond: One, we carve all of our noses to have a realistic septum. Look into the nose of most mounts, and you’ll see a solid nostril that has just been painted over. We actually carve ours by hand to truly look like the nose of the animal. If you shine a light into our noses, you will be hard pressed to find the back wall of the septum, so it looks like you’re looking at a real animal! Two, we always add the membrane in the front corner of the eye, which is called the nictitating membrane. Again, most mounts you will see don’t have this, but it makes the mount more realistic and it’s a feature we always want to provide in all of our mounts. These little details are what make the difference in a mount that really stands out as a quality piece.
Getting to where we are professionally hasn’t been easy. It can be a fairly slow build up as you gain your clientele in this industry, but a few friends (Tracy and Helen Grzeskowiak, and Maury Miller) have made all the difference in building up our clientele faster than expected. Another aspect that hasn’t been easy is needing a regular income as we build our business. My wife has had to work outside of our business to make this successful, and I have had to work part time at Scheels in their firearms department. Splitting the focus and time hasn’t been easy and it has taken a lot of planning to accomplish what we have so far. I give a lot of credit for our success in this area to Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner!
One big lesson I’ve learned along the way is that things rarely go seamlessly in mounting an animal. There are always challenges and we’ve even had a few instances where we had to stop and completely start over. I’ve learned that even when something isn’t going according plan, just stop, evaluate the situation, and figure out your course of action. There is almost always a solution, and very rarely a situation that is completely unfixable. Also, there is so much out of my control in this industry and art form, so I can’t stress over things that are not within my control.
One of the biggest reasons we love this art form is because we believe God created all these animals, and we value and respect His creation! That’s the biggest reason we want to take the extra time on each mount to ensure it looks as real as possible, because we ultimately believe it brings glory to God. Romans. 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Since God made all these things, we want to take the time to recreate the realism of these things in order that we can point to our creator and make him known.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For outdoor recreation: I would take them to Horsetooth rock and Devil’s Backbone! These are two of my favorite places to hike near Fort Collins and Loveland! If they’re into archery, we love the Dennis Hansen archery range at Lon Hagler reservoir! It’s a great place to shoot! In fact, we sponsored a target there. I also love to take out-of-towners to Estes Park, especially during October when you can see all the elk around the town! If we just want a leisurely walk outside, Windsor Lake is a great place to just hang out and enjoy the local area!
For places to eat/drink: we do a lot of cooking from scratch and love to entertain people at our home for the most part, but if we’re going to take someone out who isn’t from around here, we love to take them to Beau Jo’s Pizza in Fort Collins, and maybe swing by Odell’s and New Belgium if they enjoy a brew! If they like southern/cajun style cooking, Betta Gumbo!!! That has become one of our favorite places. For a morning cup of coffee, I’d take them to Coffee House 29 in Windsor, or Everyday Joe’s in Fort Collins! It’s always fun to take people to Old Town Fort Collins too and check out CSU, my alma mater!
A store I have to take everyone to… Scheels! I might be a little biased because I work there on the side, but it has always been one of my favorite stores since it opened in 2017! The employees are awesome and super knowledgeable, the environment is fun for all ages, and there’s an area of the store for everyone in the family. Plus, they have food there too, not to mention the ferris wheel! We also love to take any visitors we have to our church, Front Range Baptist, on Sundays. It’s full of really friendly people and a great community of believers! There’s something for all ages from infants and little kids, to teens and college ages, young families, to senior citizens. So, there’s always someone to talk to, learn from, or contribute to!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Too many to mention them all, but to name a few: Wendy, my wife. She has been my number one fan and support through starting the business, and getting it running. Donald Miller’s book, Story Brand. Tracy and Helen Grzeskowiak who have referred so many great clients my way. I wouldn’t be where I am so early in my career without them in my corner. Maury Miller for all his referrals and for always talking me up to everyone he meets! My parents, Steve and Marie, who loaned me their trailer when I went to Montana for a month to study taxidermy, and drove with me up there and back. Bryson Vowell and Falon Hibler from Colorado Creations Taxidermy for teaching me new techniques and allowing me to pick their brains when I need ideas/tips.
Youtube: Mission Taxidermy