A small black bear stands on his hind legs, front paws outstretched as he cradles a freshly-caught trout. Nearby a mountain lion keeps a wary eye on a much larger bruin lumbering by on all fours as a host of moose, deer and buffalo look on.
It may sound like a scene out of the north woods, but those animals and many more, including foxes, beaver, wild boar – even a chipmunk popping out of a hollow tree limb – are on exhibit at the Williams Auction Center in Oak Grove this week.
“There’s a total of 104 mounted animals. It’s a beautiful collection from the estate of the late Frank Lamp,” said Ed Williams, who operates the auction center with his wife, Angela.
Due to a lack of space to store the animal mounts, Lamp’s family has decided to have them sold during an auction at the center Sunday afternoon.
An avid hunter born and raised in the Dexter City area, Lamp, who died last May, had a variety of the animals he’d taken over the last 30 years mounted for display in his home.
“He started doing the mountings in the 1980s, but we lived in a small house, so he had to keep adding rooms for the animals,” said Frank’s daughter, Nancy Lamp, who now lives near Lower Salem.
She said a 50- x 30-foot room was the last addition. It included a waterfall and fireplace along one wall where her father had placed a full-mounted mountain lion
“He killed the mountain lion in Idaho, and my brother filmed it,” Nancy said. “They were hunting in snow that was almost up to their butts.”
Many of the animals Frank had mounted were taken during hunting trips to Club Trout Lake in Quebec, Canada.
“The French name is ‘Lac a Truite.’ It’s 460 square kilometers of private hunting and fishing property that belongs to Noel Thibault. He and Dad were lifelong friends, and we went there every summer when we were kids,” Nancy said. “We started going when I was 12. There were five of us, and he taught us all how to hunt and how to handle guns safely.”
She noted that her father ate almost all of the animals he killed, and nothing went to waste.
“He respected the animals and said he always thanked God for the animal after every kill,” Nancy said.
The Canadian trips must have made a great impression on Nancy, now 52, who has spent the last several summers as a hunting and fishing guide in the Quebec area.
“I’m a bear hunting and fishing guide on the club property now,” she said. “Sometimes I help on moose hunts, but it can be very hard to call a bull moose out of the bush.”
But Frank took his share of moose.
Back at the Williams Auction Center Angela Williams pointed out a cone made of rolled-up birch bark.
“The family said Frank was on a moose hunt one time and the Indian guide peeled this bark from a birch tree trunk, rolled it into a cone, then used it to call out a moose,” she said. “That moose head is one of those mounted on our back wall.”
Another interesting mounted display at the auction center is that of Frank’s favorite hunting dog, “Boy,” headed through tall grass to retrieve a pheasant.
“Boy was his best bird dog, and Dad used him to go pheasant hunting,” Nancy explained. “But in the early 1980s the dog developed heartworm. There wasn’t a lot known about heartworm in dogs at that time, and he died. It nearly killed my Dad. So he had Boy mounted.”
The Williamses have auctioned off many mounted animals during the last 20 years they’ve been in business, but the couple was not prepared for what they saw when the family asked them to take a look at the collection at Frank’s home in Dexter City.
“We’d never seen anything like this,” Ed said. “And just one of these large animals would have cost thousands to mount.”
He said there’s been a lot of interest in the mounted animals, and he expects a large crowd will be attending the auction that begins at noon Sunday. There will also be a preview of the mounted animals and other estate items from 1 to 4 p.m. at the auction center Saturday.
Nancy said her father had planned a hunting trip to Africa several years ago, but due to some health concerns he decided not to go at that time.
“He never got another chance to go,” she said.
Frank owned and operated the Lamp Logging and Lumber sawmill business in Dexter City.
“He had cut timber since he was 20 years old,” Nancy said. “But he also enjoyed raising horses and mules.”
Frank retired two years ago, but had developed cancer and died on May 26 last year at the age of 70.
Nancy said her father will be sorely missed, especially in the fall when he always took her hunting.
“He was just a common man who really loved to hunt,” she said. “Everyone who knew my dad misses him.”