The Story Behind The Pierson Collection
The Pierson Collection
The Pierson Collection actually began in 1939 with a Great Horned Owl that he took with a .22 short cartridge at 200 yards and had mounted for a charge of $2. Today, this bird is a protected bird of prey and cannot be legally hunted or sold.
"As I grew up in a rural area where there wasn't much else to do in spare time, I developed a great interest in the outdoors and have, since a young age, been interested in hunting and observing wildlife," Dr. Pierson said. "An advantage at that time (during the Depression) was that my hunting added to the family's food supply -- pheasant, rabbit, squirrel and duck. Most often I brought home jack rabbits, which my mother prepared with tomatoes and rice -- a modified Spanish rice -- which was tasty and nourishing."
Museum specimens have been collected on many trips in the United States and to foreign countries, both north and south of the equator. The big game consists mostly of the largest specimens of each animal Dr. Pierson could find, which is customary in hunting. A number of specimens are record class and some are rarely seen in collections. Some licenses are no longer available because of the scarcity of animals or because of political changes. The meat from game taken, except for that used in camp, was given to local natives. Generally, only the oldest adult males were hunted, so in no way does this deplete the herd. In fact, biologically, it improves it. Licensure fees are often the only monies available to combat poaching and improve a wildlife habitat.
In 1981, a large collection was auctioned at Christie's in New York, and Dr. Pierson saw an opportunity to buy some animals which he could never attain otherwise. Some animals were simply too expensive to hunt. His purchase added to his collection many rare animals from around the world. Specimens added from this auction were the ibex, tahr, markhor, jaguar, bongo, second leopard from India, colobus monkeys and extra mountain sheep. Six months after the purchase, Dr. Pierson had his first bypass surgery, confirming his statement that he was getting too old to hunt at 20,000 feet. Later added to the collection were a Bengal Tiger purchased from the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha after several tigers suddenly died there. The polar bear was purchased at auction in 2002.