Question on drying

Submitted by leeduet on 2/14/01. ( ) 204.181.185.32

I was wondering if i could completly dry a duck and have it ready for mounting and then mount it the next day. Would it be harder to work with. Could i fill it with borax and put it in the refrigerator?

Thanks for any help.

Return to Category Menu


Wait until the day of mounting to dry.

This response submitted by John C on 2/14/01. ( ) 208.44.115.44

I have done just what you ask, I was not satisfied with the way it draws moistur in the refridge.

You really need it fluffed and dried just before you go onto the mounting stage. Try one and see for yourself.


Duck mounting

This response submitted by Dave at VanDyke's Taxidermy Supply Co. on 2/14/01. ( dave.belanger@cabelas.com ) 208.141.229.5

Hello Lee,
I would much rather see you skin the bird out and put it into the refridge.
Then, the next day,wash and dry and then mount.The reason for this is that if you wash and dry and put into the fridge till the next day, some of the excess oils may leach out and get onto the feathers.As a result, you wont have as nice of looking feathers as if you were to wash, dry and then mount.Dont get into a rush,it will show in the mount.
If you need any help with your project, feel free to give me a call at (1-800)843-3320 ext.105 or e-mail me at this address.
Good luck and have a good day,

Dave<VanDyke's Taxidermy Supply Co.


Sure, go ahead and wash one day and mount the next.

This response submitted by stephen on 2/14/01. ( stephen.rogers@home.com ) 151.201.62.1

I disagree with the two answers you have obtained so far. There is no reason that you cannot completely skin, degrease, wash and fluff a bird one day and mount it the next day or a week later. Dave from Van Dykes suggest excess oils will leak out on the feathers, and if it is not degreased with a wire wheel, or other means, and washed in a detergent, there may be oils in the skin - BUT if washed and degreased properly there is nothing to leak out. You cannot simply skin it out and store it, it must be fully cleaned, or the oils WILL soak into the feathers and cannot be fully removed without damage, unless you use a super solvent like ether (White gas does no actual removal of grease in the short term)

There are certain tips you can follow to make sure the birds stays in as good of shape as possible, besides skinning degreasing and washing properly. If portions of the birds completely dry out the elasticity of the bird will never regain the flexibility it had when fresh. Too much borax inside the bird will dry out the skin too much - a tip I gleened from experience and talking with Jack Wilson from Canada. Jack would skin all his ducks as he got them, degrease and wash, then freeze them in a block of ice in a milk carton, whence they would last for years since they would not freeze dry inside. I however did not think they fluffed up as good after being frozen in distorted positions, though keratin has wonderful properties.

I like to fully prepare the skin and then freeze it full of slightly damp papertowels filling the body cavity and especially the neck. When doing ducks, where an already tied neck and artificial or re-built natural head is placed through the skin of the bill area, if you do not distend the neck while drying, the head/neck will not easily fit through. I like to stretch the neck as wide as possible with 12 inch forceps from the inside, then place in wet papertowels, damp cotton, or even foam neck material that is larger than the final neck. The body can be filled out with a small bath towel, or in the case of a goose or turkey, a large bath towel. All is placed in a plastic bag and Frozen, even if it is only overnight. The bird can spend a day or several days to even week in this condition, but if left too long, the moiture can move within the bag and cause portions of the bird to freeze dry - especially the wing chords, which will not rehydrate properly. If you plan on extended periods of freezer time you might wire the wings, sew them if slit underneath the wing, and position as the final mount will be, and inject the feet to create a plumpness while in the freezer - aiding in a "freeze dried foot".
Many years ago, and even now to a degree, field work in foreign countries created study skins which later came back to the museum to be mounted by the taxidermist (who often did not go in the field). I have seen the techniques of filling out birds destined to be taxidermy specimens, and they were not standard study skins. In some the wing chord was dissected out, and the body was filled to the brim with cotton, and not sewn shut, so that all individual feather tracts were fully stretched in the dry position. The apteria will shrink in mounting, but if the pterigia was not stretched, it will never create a great mount. Dried fluffed clean feathers are a must before short term storage in the freezer, or long term dry storage. I have a rail from 1939 I'm going to mount one of these days prepared by Child's Frick.

When removing the bird from the freezer, a short drying period with a hair drier would be needed to get any condensed frost off the feathers. During the time the bird is in the freezer you can leisurely carve your own body and rebuild the original head, or cast the head after it is resculpted and/or fixed in formalin.

The Taxidermologist


Return to Category Menu