I tried searching the archives but didnt have a lot of luck finding the right answer, so hope someone can help me out. I am trying my hand at beginning Taxidermy, purely as a hobby, as I live in an area where nice specimens are readily available, such as Red Fox, Pheasant, Partridge, Grey Squirrel, Crows, Rooks, Magpies, Wood Pigeons, Ducks, Various species of deer etc etc.
I am going on a Duck shoot tomorrow, and will hopefully manage to bring home some nice specimens which would prove suitable for mounting. But at present I do not have the necessary materials and lack the experience to start work on these straight away.
I have heard that you should freeze anything as soon as possible after getting it by fully immersing it in water and freezing the whole thing like a giant ice cube to exclude air and prevent freezer burn. Is this right? or would I be better off skinning so far as to remove the body of the bird (or mammal) and leaving the head/legs/tail/whatever intact before immersing in water and freezing?
I have to add, this is the ONLY place I have found where I can get good advice for a beginner in Taxidermy, I live in the UK, where Taxidermy schools don't exist, Taxidermy suppliers dont exist, and in general Books on (modern) Taxidermy dont exist either. So it is an invaluable resource for me to gain information.
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Wrap damp paper towel around the feet then slide the duck in a leg of pantyhose (old ones) head first. then wrap it well and put in freezer.
The paper towel helps the feet from getting freezer burnt and the panty hose keeps the feathers from getting manhandled.
when you go to take it out cut off the foot of the paantyhose and slide it out head first. seems to work for me . don't leave it in the freezer for years though,
Maaybe someone else has some suggestions too!
I have no idea of where you live, but if I were to shoot a duck here tomorrow it certainly would not be worth mounting. This time of year the birds are full of pinfeathers. Good for practice skinning, but little else. We generally don't see birds that are in reasonably good shape until mid-late October at the earliest. A couple of well sealed plastic bags will keep your bird for 6 months without problems. Longer than that, add the water as instructed above.
Old Fart covered it all. No way would I want a pin-feathered bird to be MY first bird mount. It'll only break your heart.
The oosting said he lives in the UK so read everything before you open your mouth.
I, of cource, agree that you should wait till completion of moult before harvesting a specimen for taxidermy. Meanwhile, spend some time inquiring about Taxidermy in Merry ole England. The Guild of Taxidermists operating in your country does publish a journal though somewhat irregular, but functions well to keep the taxidermy community in contact with one another. There also are dealers in American Taxidermy publications in England, and fervent collectors of taxidermy literature. Check out the websites linked by WASCO in the opening page under Taxidermists Web Pages - click on the World in the lower right and scroll to Great Britain and there are 21 web pages - some VERY informative on the history of taxidermy in the UK/world.
There are also a number of semi-recent Publications in your country:
Ford, Richard L. E. ca. 1970s. Collectors' Guide No. 2 - Elementary Taxidermy. Watkins & Doncaster, Wellington, Kent, United Kingdom. 15 pp.
Harrison, James. M. 1982. Bird Taxidermy. Second Edition. Fourth Printing, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, Great Britain. xvii + 67 pp.
Metcalf, John C. 1981. Taxidermy, A Complete Manual. Gerald Duckworth & Co., Ltd., London. 166 pp.
O'Conner, P. A. 1983. Advanced Taxidermy. Saiga Publishing Co. Ltd., Surry, England. xii + 204 pp.
Peter, R. 1999. Bird Taxidermy. Complete Instructions for Setting up Specimens in the Traditional Way. Published by Rex Merchant, Norman Cottage, Rutland, United Kingdom. viii + 50 pp.
Stoate, Christopher. 1987. Taxidermy, The Revival of a Natural Art. The Sportsman's Press, London. xiii + 141 pp.
Wood, Neil R. 1980. Taxidermy for you. Tideline Publishing Co., Ltd, Rhyl, Clwyd, North Wales. 136 pp.
Besides these, there are some great older taxidermy texts published in England. Buy either of Montague Browns texts because many of the techniques in modern bird taxidermy have not changed that much from the past, except of use of artificial heads, which often in not warrented. Of cource in Montague's day freezers didn't exist - so your original question could not be found there.
Purchase Breakthrough, Taxidermy Today, and a few English or WASCO texts (and if you like, videos) and you will be on your way.
Last time I looked, even England was in the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE, duh. It's warm in summer and cold in winter, DUH. Birds molt with the seasons, but then again, you probably flunked geography AND meterology (You probably thought that was about working with various angles and about recognizing stars).
The "I have no idea where you live" was a retorical statement made for precisely the reason George stated. That should have been easy enough for even you to figure out!
Thanks for your replies folks, Gotum for the info' on ways to freeze until the specimen can be dealt with properly, and the Taxidermologist for the great information regarding various publications available to help me out. George and Old Fart for helping me to realise the importance of selecting your chosen specimen at the right time of year to get the most 'quality' specimen that you can to get a good result. I have not as yet mounted anything at all, I have successfully skinned and tanned several Grey Squirrels, purely to get the hang of the process involved, and the duck shoot was purely for a aquiring food for the table, but if a presentable duck was had it was going to be kept in the freezer to be dealt with at a later date. I have the WASCO catalogue and the Van Dyke catalogue, which are great for showing me what is available to me to help me start in Taxidermy, but until I have sorted myself out with some tanning experience and got the basics under my belt it is not practical for me to order anything from a USA company due to the shipping costs involved, sometimes this being more than the items actually ordered !
Thanks again for your replies.....