1. Welcome to Taxidermy.net, Guest!
    We have put together a brief tutorial to help you with the site, click here to access it.

why go to a school?

Discussion in 'Training' started by steewrestler, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. steewrestler

    steewrestler Member

    call me stupid by why is it that you would go to a school i understand that you would go to be trained but do you have to be certifyed to be a taxidermist or licesened? i am just learning a trying to understand everything. this has been bugging me and wanted to know. thanks for the help.
  2. richjb01

    richjb01 New Member


    I am trying to get into taxidermy also, so I know less then nothing about it, but I do know that you do not have to go to a school. I am not saying that you should or shouldn't, but you don't have to. I have read many posts/replies on here that it is better to get the basics down before you go to a school. That is what I intend on doing. You do have to be licensed, in IL anyway, if you intend on doing this as a business and/or get paid for your services. In IL. the license is $25.00, but varies state to state and is only for non-migratory animals. I went to the IL. Dept. of Natural Resources website and read about the requirements. Opinions vary, many recommend going to school and many don't. Read through prior posts and you will see. I think that it depends on the individual and your desires. Like I said, I know nothing, so take this for what it is worth. You can learn all that you need to know, minus the hands-on training, right here on this site. There are alot of people here willing to help. Good luck to you and I hope that this helps you out.


  3. RoyalOaksRanch

    RoyalOaksRanch Royal Oaks Taxidermy- When Quality Counts...

    ANY knowledge is a good thing.. though for some a school just isnt an option...

    Some have a talent for taxidermy and do fine learning thru books, videos and seminars.. Others may feel a school gives them a good jump start..

    I never went to a school.. My life wouldnt allow me to just take off.. So I taught myself using the methods above..

    as for the license etc you need to check what your state requires.. I do not have to have a taxidermy license.. I have a business license..

    Also check it to your fish and game regulations.. You will need to know them very well.. Also learn about federal regulations as well.
  4. As far as I am concerned this business is just the same as any other business. You must understand the business thoroughly to get the most out of it and you must control everything very closely. Unlike a great many businesses in taxidermy you have to have a little bit of skill to be successful. In order for you to make any money in this business you better have your skill level up too par because people will compare your work with other taxidermist and if you just barely have the skill level to put a piece together you will never be able to pull down those Big Bucks. You don't necessarily need to go to a school if you are one who is highly motivated (99% aren't) and stay on this site for long periods every day for a couple of years that is if you are strictly trying to learn on your own.

    When I first started out in this business I was determined that I was going to make it on my own. Well, it took me about 10 years and I guess I was thick headed but I kept going to seminars etc and I did finally get my skill level up there to where I thought it was pretty good. But, I have to admit that due to this site and rapid communication it's gotten a lot easier. But, until you work with someone who is an outstanding Taxidermist and they explain every step it takes to put an outstanding piece together it will take you years to get proficient on your own. I know because I thought that I was good just a couple of years after I had gotten into the business and once I did go to a couple of schools I found out how I had really cheated myself by not getting the proper training from the get go I could have saved myself years if I just hadn't been so stupid. I always had these questions; am I doing this part the correct way. Well, Old Billy Bob down the street has been doing taxidermy for 30 years and he knows everything and takes in 300 deer heads and he told me this was the way to make those eyes look real. Well, you know I started doing them the way old Billy Bob does his but in reality I was never happy with that method. Well, I sought out to work with the Best in the World and just see if there is a difference. Well, after working with Joe Meder, John Matthews, Ken Walker and Brian Dobson it was easy for me to say that these guys are the GREATEST at what they do best. I found out that these guys are relentless at knowing how to read references in determining what is what and also they are GREAT sculptures with there hands and this is what I determined that this is the reason as to why these guys are so GREAT.

    Believe me this was an eye opener for me. Here I had wasted a large amount of time by trying to do this on my own and all I would have had to have done is seek out only the best to explain things to me in simple layman terms. Well, what this really means is that yes you can do it on your own but not everyone is motivated the same way and actually some don't possess the ability that it actually takes to be a taxidermist. So, if you think that you can do it on your own go ahead. But, there are those who will seek out individuals who possess those high skills that it takes to do what I call "High Quality Work". This cuts out any doubt as to whether am I doing this correctly or is this the right method to use.

    Again this Taxidermy profession is no different than any other business. What you put into it is what you are going to get out of it. Good luck in your choices. Again these are my opinions only.


    John Griffith
    Stearns, Kentucky
  5. redwolf

    redwolf Active Member

    I think it depends on the individual. With taxidermy you need to be artistic and have an eye for detail.
    If you have to have step by step, one on one teaching a school may be what you would need.
    If you pick up on things quick, videos and books may be good enough.
    State organizations have seminars witch are just as good as school.
    With all that being said, there are a LOT of taxidermy schools out there. Some are better than others and some just shouldn't be in existence. If you decide to go to a school, don't just go to the closest one to you, or go to the cheapest one. You may be wasting time and money.
    Do research on them, or even ask about them on here.
    For me school wasn't an option. The closest one to me is 10 hours away, and to be honest with you I simply couldn't afford it so I got as many videos and books as I could
    and read as much on here as I could take in.
  6. bill@hogheaven

    [email protected] New Member

    Big John is 100% correct.
  7. Bill Dishman

    Bill Dishman Well-Known Member

    A good school is the best option for someone who doesnt want to go through months or years of the trial and error that go with learning from videos. Videos cant answer your questions and generally cover only the most basic points. For a beginner, they tend to leave you confused and wondering if this is really for you. They are fine for a little headstart, basic understanding BEFORE attending a school, or for a refresher AFTER attending school, but if you think your going to order a box of videos and learn enough about taxidermy to start your own business, your only kidding yourself. Videos are for those who either cant go to a school (for any number of good reasons) or those just interested in doing taxidermy as a hobby. Once you have made up your mind that taxidermy is your career of choice, then a good school is your BEST option.
    Theres no substitute for in-person, hands on instruction from someone who knows what he/she is doing.
    Be sure to research schools carefully. Most of them are not worth the time, effort and cost to attend.
    See what some former taxidermy school students have to say:

  8. whitetail94

    whitetail94 New Member

    First off, I'm very new to taxidermy myself. I haven't been doing it a year yet, however, I have been thinking about trying it since 2001. I bought a couple of videos back then and was going to try my hand on a deer that I had killed. I didn't have the tools that I need, messed up on somethings got mad and trashed it all. Well, this year I really got to thinking about it again an wanted to learn. I didn't have the time or money to go to a full school. I checked into some one on one training, and started to figure out how much money I would need. This is still not a cheap way to learn this but I figured out away to make it work. I sold my bass boat, paid off some small bills that I had, bought two sets of replica horns and set up a 3 day course with Big John. This was the best thing for me, one on one training with a perfectionist at what he does. I think that this course took at least 2 yrs off my learning curve. This is my first hunting season taking in deer and so far I have gotten in about 22. I mounted 10 between March and October when our hunting season opened here in Louisiana. I plan on going to our local Taxidermy convention next year and attend some seminars.
    Since my one one one training, I have went back and watched those videos that I bought back in '01 and things are so much clearer. Heck, I'm still buying videos. I got Joe Meders flehmen video in last week.
    I think that it can be done on your own, but for me, the one on one course put me a couple of years ahead of where I would have been.

    Good luck,
  9. i know big john is a good teacher as iv been told, but im doing fine without schools... one of these days ill go to new york to take a class with yox but thats about it
  10. jasonb

    jasonb I think I'll keep her

    Brushy you got a pretty good teacher there with Micheal P.

    And taxidermy school is not to be taken lightly it is and will be one of the biggest investments in your career and the knowledge that you gain from it will save you more time and money in the future even if you have a natural ability that experience is priceless.

    P.S. I never went to a school but I wish I would have.
  11. Scrubby

    Scrubby New Member

    This is a proffesion, what you put into to it is what you get. I agree with John this is not the same as buying a remington shot gun. If you buy it in Chicago or if you buy it in Cleveland you are pretty sure you get the same quality. Doing someones trophy and making sure it looks right and will stand the test of time takes a lot of practice and knowledge how you get that knowledge is up to you. But videos will help I just can justify thinking videos are gonna get you where you want to be as quickly as a hands on with someone that has paid their time and has the knowledge and experience. Videos for me are great refreshers and extra knowledge.
  12. tre

    tre New Member

    hey stee....This post is right up my alley for once i think i can actually help someone one this sight..i have gained so much from fellow taxidermist on this site..its time to try and repay my dues....

    Once again I'm no pro just my 2 cents...5 years ago i was in your same shoes gun whole couldn't wait to wake up in the morning to go find something to do with taxidermy...so i new nothing about this sight new nothing about taxidermy hell i didn't even know how to skin a deer..So heres where i started called my local wildlife officer to see what the laws were...big B.B ..he helped me alot told me what i needed to do and how to find this site for help..

    I started talking to everyone on here calling schools ...buying videos ..buying books..buying tools ..but heres where the trouble was .....do you know how hard it is to stop a video and ask them why their doing that ..or what happens if you don't and what happens if you do this instead of that..all these questions are weighing heavy on your mind..hell you could be doing it the excite right way but not no it and something just go a little wrong what would be a easy fix..and you throw the whole thing away and say i had to be doing it wrong..Fact of the matter is yea you may figure it out but how much time ..money..and stress are you gonna put on your self...?

    So long story short i finally contacted a school that show me all the basics..got the ball rolling ..came back home i was lost once again...then a few gentleman stepped into the picture to help me out...Dennis M..writer for breakthrough ..helped me figure out what did i want as a taxidermist ..to push deer and fish out the door or become a good quality taxidermist and still make a little money...what your goals?..you want to do quality work..to you have nothing but time to practice if so maybe you can tough it out without schooling..my bets are you will save yourself a huge headache and money in the long run to research out good hands on training...And heres the advice that was giving to me ..that got me where i am now...Rick Crane and John Griffith ..now I'm not taking anything from anyschools..just passing on what was passes on to me...!Research find out who you like maybe it wont be them I'm just saying what worked for me...now i haven't been down to work with rick yet ..but i will real soon..but rick was kind enough to under stand my headache and point me in the right direction..John Griffith is in a class of his own in my eyes he really cares about quality and most important he knows how to teach you quality and to push you to set your goals higher each time...Good luck i hope this advice helps you like it did me...!!Big thanks to Big John..Rick Krane..Dennis M ..Brian Banbury Cary Cochran ..Larry V..and everyone on this site..
  13. redwolf

    redwolf Active Member

    I agree that videos aren't going to be the best way to learn but they are a good place to start.
    That was how I started but I would take a class now if I had the chance. Especially now that I would know/understand what they would be talking about. Actually I'm looking around to better myself now.
    Taking a class definitely wouldn't hurt.
  14. Some states have a way to certify taxidermist and the NTA has a way. It is not neccesory to be certified in any state.

    Many people claim to be certified and they are not, sad that there is little enforcement on the certification.

    Videos can show you the basic steps. Rick Carter's can step you way on up on deerheads. As for stopping a video and asking why its done that way. Well taxidermy lends itself to many different ways of doing the samething. Bondo ears verse ear liners, verses even screenwire in the ears with bondo. DP verses, home tanning verses commercial tanning etc.

    If you choose a school, be sure you have some expereince in the field before picking one. You dont want to waste your money and two months out of school release taxidermy is not for you.

    Next what awards has the insturctor won, if you are going top pay big bucks you want to know that the teacher knows their stuff!!!

    Is the class going to be one on one or split between a bunch of people??? One on ONE is always better!!!!!!!!

    Next look and see who does the better work and who has specialties, chances are the person that has a specialty will teach you more in that catagory. FISH, Gameheads or strickly whitetails etc.

    Your state association can be a big help, at their shows and meeting they normally put on good seminars and if you study you can learn almost as much there as some of the schools!

    Competitions are a great way to learn, have somework judged and listen to the critque and take notes, listen the judge critique other mounts too.
  15. mndemohead

    mndemohead New Member

    I went to a school in my home state, and I totally wasted my time and money. Not because I think school is not a good idea, but because the person who ran the school was basically only in it for the $$ and once she had my money she really cared less about what I learned. After I got out of school I had such a bad taste in my mouth about taxidermy I threw in the towel for about a year, but I always thought about it and missed it, so I picked up the phone and called local taxidermists in my area and told them about my situation. I was surprised how generous most of them were. I ended up talking to one that is very near my home and I have been working under him in the evenings and weekends for over a year now. I learn more in one night working with him then I did in a week in school. I do believe school is a great thing, but if you invest in school, do some homeword ahead of time first, so you don't get burned out of thousands of dollars like I did. And yes in my state you do need a license.
  16. I have never went to a taxidermy school, and there are no schools within thousands of mile from me. There are pros who give seminars and workshops, and even then, those are HUNDREDS of miles from me.

    I am a single mother of two young chldren. I cannot run off for a week and leave work and children behind to spend thousands of dollars at a taxidermy school. And yes, thousands. For me, it requires an expensive fight, hotel, etc. I am in California.

    I have been doing taxidermy for three years this month. Prior to that, I had never touched a taxidermy type thing. I have hunted, butchered, dressed , skined etc. animals from living on a farm, but never even salted a cape or cut off a horn cap. I bought a few videos, a few books, got a rooster from my parents house, and mounted it. Then tried my hand on a Amhurst pheasant. Then, thinking I have started off well, I mounted a lifesize bobcat. FOUR months after picking up my first taxidermy animal, I took all three to the World Show in Reno and placed well. Yep, my first three mounts. No school, no seminare, only a few videos and a few months on this site.

    I mounted as many specimens I cold get my hands on in the time between work hours. I went to my state show last year and came home with an arm load of trophies and blue ribbons. No school.

    I mounted a deer for a friend about four months ago. Then took my second deer in as a customer deer charging $500. This was just two months ago. I attended a state assoc. seminar, and come home and mounted my deer. Not a single complaint. In fact, I am taking deer to show at my state show. I have several more customer deer in the freezer, along with bobcat, skunk, coyote, quail, pheasant, etc. I am charging prices that are higher than some of the school-learned people.

    I do not believe you must go to a taxidermy school. I have made many frinds here, all will give advise, email pictures, and spend hours on the phone with me. And not just one or two, and not just backyard taxidermists. I have been helped by state, national and world champion taxidermists. But not in a school. I agree you need some talent in this profession, without it you can attend school for the next 20 years and still not be any good. But, on the flip side, if you DO have the talent, school is not a needed thing.
  17. mndemohead

    mndemohead New Member

    Most people dont go to a school, It doesnt matter how good the school or instructor is, they cant compare to hands on training!!!. You can only learn sooo much in the time given at most schools.
  18. Kevin M.

    Kevin M. Active Member

    I disagree. I learned more in a month at school. Then I could learn in a year or more on my own. If you can . Get a home study coarse to give you the basics. Then go to school.
  19. Bill Dishman

    Bill Dishman Well-Known Member

    Yep, hands on training IS the ticket.

    Just what exactly do you think goes on at school? Sitting around watching videos???
    You say that "Most people dont go to a school" Where exactly did you find the evidence to prove that that is a fact. If thats a true statement, i'd like to see your proof. Im sure you must have done some research to corroberate your statement. Right? Or did you just make that one up??
  20. redwolf

    redwolf Active Member

    There are 47,000 members on here. And thousands more out there.
    Are you going to tell me more than 50% went to school?