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Beginners...READ THIS

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by BrookeSFD16, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. BrookeSFD16

    BrookeSFD16 Well-Known Member

    This is going to sound like a rant, and in a way I guess it is. I saw where someone posted a thread the other day similar. SO not to hijack his thread, I'm posting this one.

    I have been learning Taxidermy for just under 2 years now, so I speak from experience and this information is of course my opinion. Anyone please feel free to add to it.

    If you are thinking of learning Taxidermy there are 3 things you need.

    1.) Specimens: No matter how much knowledge you gain you will never learn without practice. To practice you need Specimens. It is now late August and hunting seasons around the country are opening. Get the word out that you need specimens. Trappers, Hunters, and other outdoorsmen are your best bet. Friends looking for "lightly" hit roadkill isn't gonna cut it. If you don't know anyone who hunts or traps, google clubs in your area and contact them. Get as many as you can put in your freezer. This applies to all areas of Taxidermy, ducks, mammals, fish and bones. Avoid paying for specimens. Sometimes it's not only illegal, but you need your money for supplies. Going from a whole animal to a finished mount is 90% prep work and 10% fun stuff. Learning to skin, flesh, salt, tan, wheel, wash, degrease, macerate and pickle is what you should have as your first goal. Skinning a raccoon for lifesize down to the feet and off the skull is no different that skinning any other animal. Same with squirrels, possum, Nutria, mink, martin...you get my drift. Have plenty of specimens on hand so you can practice. You will not (more than likely) be able to take your first specimen and get it mounted. You will cut too many holes, mess up in the tanning process, rip off legs, ect. So have a mindset that these are PRACTICE. If they make it, Great, if not oh well, go to the freezer and get another.

    2.) Supplies: Supplies include all tools and reference needed to do Taxidermy. Everything from DVD's to scalpels. These cost money. Make yourself a list of things you NEED and prioritize them. As you get the funds order them. Reference pics are a supply. You have to have them. Download from the Internet. If you don't have money to start projects, download pictures. Keep in mind that people make DVD's to make money. Very few are gonna show you every step, exactly as it should be done. Get as many different ones as you can and take notes. Taxidermy.net is a great recourse. Use the search. Ask questions, but do not expect someone just to tell you exactly how to do something. Read the archives, many times a thread topic doesn't reflect the body of the posts.

    3.) Knowledge: This is the biggie. If you watch 5 DVD's on how to mount a Bobcat and you try it...you'll probably do it wrong. I know I did. Use the DVD's, Taxinet, and YouTube along with PRACTICE to get going. At some point you need live instruction. The absolute BEST place to get that is at your State Show. I was fortunate enough to get this advice when I started out and it has saved me thousands of dollars and hours of time. The first year I got into Taxidermy I attended 2 State Shows. The knowledge is unbelievable. Do not go there with the attitude of "It's a vacation", or, "I can't go because I don't have anything to enter". Go with the attitude that you are there to get as much information as you can. Go to every seminar that interests you and TAKE NOTES. Even if you don't know what the heck they're talking about. Write it down. Talk to people. The hallways are a treasure trove of information. Make friends and get contact information. When you are allowed in the showroom look at all the mounts. Pick out the ones that YOU like the best and find out who did them. Ask if that person gives classes, or would consider allowing you to call, or email them with questions. Most important of all in my opinion is GO TO THE BANQUET. Write down the names of the people who win. If they are not the ones who did the mounts that you picked out in the showroom, talk to them. Ask if they give classes, or would mind mentoring you. The greatest thing about going to shows is that you learn what good Taxidermy is supposed to look like.

    If you are reading this and want to get into Taxidermy and have never attended your State Show you need to plan it NOW. Most shows are in the Spring/Summer. If your State Show is in March that's 28 weeks from now. If you put 20$ a week aside you would have $560 by the time the show was here. That should be plenty to get you there, pay dues, motel, and banquet tickets. Think about it. It costs on average 250-500$ a DAY for Professional Instruction. You get 3 days, with 20-30 "Instructors" at your State Show. Not to mention the contacts you make. It's no fun to continuously mount stuff that looks like crap. Once you get sick of doing it wrong it's time to get a class. There are numerous Taxis on here that advertise, and there are reviews for them. I have heard horror stories of folks that paid local Taxis to "teach" them. If you have already attended your State Show then you know what good taxidermy looks like. Take classes from someone who does good work.

    Well that's my take on it. Hopefully it will save someone time and money.
    aewalsh likes this.
  2. TomR

    TomR New Member

    Thanks Brooke! Greatly appreciated information

  3. CarrionCrawler

    CarrionCrawler Advice is not destructive criticism.

    Excellent information for beginners and others who've already stepped knee-high into taxidermy. Thanks, Brooke!
  4. B Jones

    B Jones Memeber of - NTA,UTA,AIT.Proud Member of NZTA.

    I have been at it for 20 years, I am still a beginner. Don't think that two years is all it takes , learning and continuos improvement is what it is about. There is good advice here and your State Shows are a really good place to start. I will never stop attending our State Show, I get something out of everyone I attend. Going and studying with people who have been at it for a long time is also money well spent. I have spent a small fortune going to work with many people who have achieved the ultimate, that being World Title holders. Guess what every single one of them told me at sometime during the workshop, I AM STILL LEARNING .
    aewalsh likes this.
  5. Chupacabra84

    Chupacabra84 New Member

    Lol I find these rants very inspirational! thanks ;D
  6. dplais7124

    dplais7124 Active Member

    I think this is all great information Brooke. However, you forgot one very important aspect that most newbies tend to do. Don't mount 3 animals and then open a shop advertising cheap work cause you're still practicing. That's a sure way to develop a horrible clientele.
    aewalsh likes this.
  7. B Jones

    B Jones Memeber of - NTA,UTA,AIT.Proud Member of NZTA.

    Now that is great advice as well.
  8. Thanks for all info. Turn out i am missing a few things from the list!

    Lucky here in australia i can go out and hunt as many foxes/rabbits as i want no problems on a property with permission .. so the freezer fills fast.

    Contacts .. i dont know how i can thank all my contacts enough for the help. I even have been offered lessons from one of them when we have the time :) But for now im on my own. Which i must say. I stress a bit. When the rabbit lips wouldnt stay i had no idea what i was doing wrong .. i then later found out i hadnt shaved the lips. And didnt use enough clay! Now prepping to do my next mount .. a fox. Using the info i gained from failing the rabbits. Can't afford dvd's atm but thats next on the list.

    Haven't filled my freezer though yet ... thats gonna happen soon though. I just havent had the time to practice at the archery range.

    i didnt even think about writing a list of things i needed. Some of the things that skip my mind!
  9. Matt

    Matt Active Member

    I learn something new all the time and sometimes that is motivational as well as inspirational, never stop learning!
  10. BrookeSFD16

    BrookeSFD16 Well-Known Member

    Bump. It's that time of year again! All you beginners out there, get you a plan together for specimen collection for this season! Post up your work too!
  11. twinrivers

    twinrivers Active Member

    Wow Brooke! Guess I must have missed a thread somewhere that struck a nerve...lol. Great advice in any case. I have been seeing a lot of posts wanting things gifted and maybe that's what you were referring to. That's all fine and dandy but as you and others know but most people on here are busy people and use this forum as a place to unwind a bit and relax and offer input. My question to beginners is if you want to be a taxidermist and want specimens then go hunting! Go fishing! Trap! I have no problem giving away certain specimens but I sure the hell am not going to go out of my way to mail specimens to someone I don't know when I can mount them myself, whether it be for practice or experimenting with a new technique. I always tell my wife it is a generation thing, the instant gratification stage of America. Nobody wants to put forth any effort, whether that is is hunting or fishing for your own specimens or learning taxidermy. Get out there and put in some time and effort! If I have specimens to offer then why in hell doesn't anyone wanting to have one gifted have any? Instant gratification and laziness is the answer. I have lived all over this country and have never had any problems being a successful hunter or angler, but you have to get off the couch in order to do that! When I started years ago I didn't go and ask people to send me stuff. If I wanted some ducks to practice on then damn it I grabbed my shotgun and I went duck hunting! If I wanted to try mounting a deer then I got my ass out of bed and went deer hunting! I am a firm believer in going to a school to learn the trade, for the soul reason of learning the basics in a shop environment with one on one instruction. Once you have established a baseline you enhance and improve through DVDs and such. You need to watch and see it done and know what good taxidermy is before you can do it or you won't accomplish a damn thing but repeating the same bad techniques and wasting your own time. Like others have said it is a constant learning process, that is what makes it fun!?? So beginners...get out there into the wild and go hunting, go fishing, go to some shows and visit some shops. Get out there and make your way in this trade. We are all here to help and assist, but at least take the first few steps on your own. Sorry Brooke, you sparked a little rant out of me too. Take care.
  12. twinrivers

    twinrivers Active Member

    Sorry for the long post. It all boils down to what B Jones stated.
  13. kickstart59

    kickstart59 Member

    Thank you so much
  14. If you decide you are going to go into taxidermy as a business, Take some basic business classes ! This is not the type of business that runs itself. Getting work is not the hard part, Making money at it is.
    If you want to do this for fun then enjoy it but if you want to do it for a living then do what you need to do to make a living at it. Run a business doing taxidermy.
    Just my thoughts.
  15. clschake

    clschake New Member

    I agree with TwinRivers.... On the hunting part at least.
    It's the real experience seeing these animals in their natural state that made me want to do this. After trying my son's first bird, I pay even more attention to how they move, what they look like while eating, running, reaching for apples (in deer), strutting, running, lifting or take of flight, I notice so much more about their movements the hunt is even more enjoyable than ever. So are my walks around the block.
    Only downfall I've found is i "want" to try everything I see now and I don't even have his done yet. ahaha
  16. duxrus

    duxrus Active Member

    l will add a few things...

    GETTTING YOUR HANDS DIRTY is the best way to learn. Too many people think that if they post a million questions on here about how to do this or that without even having tried to do whatever they are asking about will magically teach them . Seeing and doing are two different things. Once you have a general idea about doing something , go try it. You can read about it or watch a video but until you actually get your hands dirty by trying to do it yourself you really don't have a clue.

    Don't be a quitter. If you rip something to shreds then use that as a learning tool for how to fix it. Odds are people won't be dropping things off that died of natural causes and will have plenty of damage to fix so practice on everything, even the lost cause specimens. You will be amazed at what can be fixed but you won't know how if you never attempt to do so. The needle and thread is your saving grace.

    Don't get upset when people aren't lining up to reply to your questions. There are pages and pages of answers in the archives where a simple search on your part could have answered it. People get tired of typing the same thing twenty times a year.

    Don't even think about opening a business until you know what you are doing. Get outside opinions from trustworthy people and LISTEN to their opinions on your work. Don't get mad at negative comments. Use them to better your work. Too many people get a few mounts under their belt and think they are ready to open the door. In your mind your work looks GREAT but that isn't always reality. As time goes on you will understand that. What looks awesome today will look like junk to you a few years later as you lessen the learning curve. I can't stress enough that your name will be attached to every mount you send out and people seeing it won't know this was your 1st or 1000th mount. A crappy mount is a crappy mount no matter it's age .

    Have fun. If you find you aren't enjoying your work then find another hobby. :)
  17. BrookeSFD16

    BrookeSFD16 Well-Known Member

    Bump it up!
  18. huntress_brooke

    huntress_brooke New Member

    This is all the advice and more I was looking for!! Thank you so much Brooke - I can't wait to get started now. My state show is August 2-4 in Clemmons, North Carolina and I'm going to take your advice and start saving for it now ;) in the meantime I'm ordering a few DVD's tonight that were recommended to me and I am going to keep researching!
    socalmountainman likes this.