Where the Wild Things Are
Hunter’s Supply gives hunters and non-hunters a striking look at serious game.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
The wolf that greets visitors at the door is nearly taller than the brown bear standing next to it. Flanking it are some other, ferocious-looking man-eaters: an Alaskan polar bear, a grizzly and a now-endangered Bengal tiger.
On the wall behind them are heads that comprise a crash course for global game. A Pacific walrus with impossibly long tusks. A wolverine whose pugnacious spirit still flows from its eyes, and which looks ready to spring back to life and rip someone’s face off. There is the massive head of a Cape buffalo whose horns look like shark hooks, and below it, an equally large giant eland, the world’s largest species of antelope, whose spiralled horns look like medieval daggers.
The moose towers over them all, with antlers that span six feet. Perched nearby, a leopard, jaguar and ocelot are ready to pounce.
The place these animals currently reside is not in a natural history room in the Smithsonian. It’s Hunter’s Supply in Salinas, an unassuming store on Main Street that most people probably drive by without even noticing, but which has been a mecca for local hunters since it opened in 2008.
The collection – quite possibly the most impressive public display of its kind in the state – came to the store as a gift from the Armstrong Family Trust. Maitland and Liz Armstrong, who passed away in the 1990s, were Salinas Valley ranchers and hunters, and they traveled the world far and wide to seek their game.
“My vision was a hunting store,” says Jeff Pluta, who founded Hunter’s Supply but has since sold it to Mike Van Valkenburgh. “But I wanted a ‘wow’ factor.”
HUNTER’S SUPPLY, 220 N. Main St., Salinas. 758-4868, www.hunterssupply.net