“Bambi was inspired, and said trembling, ‘There is Another who is over us all'”*…
Brian Wolslegel was fresh out of school and looking for work as a firefighter when he took a temporary job with a taxidermist. One day a game warden walked into the shop near Wausau, Wis., and asked if he could build a robotic deer to help catch an illegal hunter.
“I had putzed around with robotic cars just like any kid,” Wolslegel said, “and we started messing around with little motors to make things move. It was a lot of fun.”
More than 20 years later, he’s still at it. His business, Custom Robotic Wildlife, is now one of the oldest and best regarded of its kind in North America. Each year, Wolslegel builds a menagerie of about 150 lifelike remote-controlled animals, mostly for wildlife enforcement officers in states and American Indian reservations across the United States and Canada.
Compared to current motorized decoys, that first attempt was “prehistoric,” Wolslegel recalled, laughing. Today, his whitetail deer can be made to independently move their ears and tail, stomp their legs and slide on a track that makes them appear to walk.
He’s made robotic animals as big as a bear and as small as a squirrel. He’s sold pigs to game wardens in Texas, and elk to clients out West…
* Felix Salten,
As we muse on mechanical ducks, we might send thoughtfully-titrated birthday greetings to Denis Papin; he was born on this date in 1647. A physicist, mathematician and inventor, he is best known for his pioneering creation of a “steam digester,” the forerunner of the pressure cooker and of the steam engine.