KNAPPA - Columbia River Taxidermy, owned by Angelo "AJ" Emerick, 27, is open at 92738 Allen Road in Knappa. After 6 1/2 years of service in the U.S. Coast Guard, Emerick returned to Astoria, where he first toured on the Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast. Now retired from the Coast Guard, where he was an aviation maintenance technician, he decided to change careers and become a full-time taxidermist.

Although he specializes in beetle-cleaned bones and skulls, Emerick does not limit himself. His shop, which has a full showroom of animals that is open to the public, also handles big and small game, fish (both skin and reproduction), waterfowl and upland game birds. Custom plaques, horn and skull mounts and wood engraving on a variety of exotic woods and stains are also available.

Emerick says he uses "a different kind of animal artistry," and the animals are "mounted better and without hesitation. His policy is, "It should look familiar."

"The best part of my job is that I get to share ... what makes a hunter happier than anything else," he said. "I love being a taxidermist."

The shop's hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, but he takes calls at all times, as hunters' hours can vary greatly.

Emerick can be reached at (503) 791-8700 or (columbiarivertaxidermy@hotmail.com)