SIDNEY -- Taxidermy for Kent Allard started in part with his passion for hunting, and the art of preservation. His work has earned him some prestigious awards, including at the national level.

"This is probably the highest level, but I've received a lot of rewards. I compete in several states, at the state level, but this is a national, for the national level show," said Kent Allard of his recent recognition .

With more than 25 years experience in taxidermy, Allard has competed in several state events and recently competed at the national level. He said he's been 'competing hard' for the last five or six years. 

"I competed at the National Taxidermy competition in Sioux Falls, S.D., in July. I won three major awards. I won National Champion for a mule deer, I won National Champion for a Skin-Mount Reptile, which was a prairie rattle snake, and then the Best All-Around Taxidermist, an award for the highest scoring -- four pieces in four different categories," he said.

Taxidermy is a process of preservation and art, a process that is often time-consuming. Allard said understanding anatomy is important, structuring the subject to look alive. Getting to the national award level requires commitment. He said it takes a lot of hours, a lot of practice, and ... a lot of failures.

"You gotta fail before you can win. It's just a lot of digging deep. And I studied with a lot of other taxidermists over the years, and continue to study with them and learn new techniques. I come up with my own. I do a lot of molding and casting of parts, and make my own parts of plastic; always striving for the next, best thing," Allard said.