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The Right Stuffing

Indians pitcher Jason Davis has a passion for taxidermy

WHEN THE hard-throwing righty--and avid hunter--Jason Davis traveled from his home in Tennessee to his pied-à-terre in Cleveland for an off-season workout two winters ago, he brought his glove, his spikes, some clothing and a cooler containing the antlers and tanned head of an eight-point white-tailed buck. "I stuffed and mounted it in my apartment," he says. "I wanted to do the first one by myself." Armed with a basic instruction manual and taxidermy supplies ordered from a catalog, Davis completed the process in 15 hours in the kitchen sink. "It was a big mess. I was like, Man, this is going to look horrible," he says. "But it turned out a lot better than I thought. I call it Lucky."

The 6'6" power pitcher, 4--2 with a 4.69 ERA in three stints with the Indians this season, has been hooked on taxidermy ever since. The spare bedroom of the house he shares with wife Sarah and their daughter, Lily, 2, holds seven stuffed deer heads, five largemouth bass, a walleye, a steelhead, a pheasant, a bobcat and a red fox (above). Davis, 25, does most of his taxidermy in the off-season, when he has the time needed to carve musculature and veins into the styrofoam mannequins onto which he positions the hides. Like most taxidermists, he pays great attention to detail, using pins to be sure that the animals' eyelashes dry just right. "My teammates give me a hard time and say they'll send the animals they've hunted to my doorstep when I get home," says Davis. "I have a lot of respect for taxidermists, though. I couldn't do it as a job--it takes too much patience." --Ben Reiter