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advise on what school to go to!!!

Discussion in 'Deer and Gameheads' started by jaybwhitetail, Feb 11, 2015.

  1. jaybwhitetail

    jaybwhitetail New Member

    Howdy everyone I'm looking to start my own taxidermy buisness and was wondering about what school y'all would advise me to go to...my buddy did an apprenticeship type deal in Tennessee and said that if I would like to turn this into a business in the future he would advise me to go to a more advanced class....I'm thinking for now it would mostly be deer turkeys and smaller game and fish and waterfowl.....thanx
  2. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Start out with baby steps. You didn't go to high school when you were six. Get lessons on the basics and go from there. Don't even try this if you are not willing to put in as much time and money on business classes as you are for taxidermy classes. Going to taxidermy school will not make you a taxidermist. It will make you a person who has a general knowledge with how an animal goes together. After you build on that and get numerous animals under your belt, your starting to get there. Keep taking in instruction through classes and DVDs, books etc. Work hard at it and give it a lot of time to hone your skills and develop you talent before you take on customers. You owe THEM that. Good luck. We have schools and workshops sections on here.

  3. jaybwhitetail

    jaybwhitetail New Member

    Right agree 100% I am in the woods hunting very chance I get..I trap and tan my own hides...I watched a local guy mount a deer n bear...I've learned some stuff from videos and books...I'm not just a kid that walked into a museum and said ooo mommy I wanna make an animal like that...(no one take this the wrong way) I'm just saying I do know a little about it but there is so much more to learn and the local guy has been doing it for years n is still learning!
  4. jk

    jk Active Member

    Here is what I tell students who ask me this question. I think it is very hard to hang up a sign and start a business and expect to make a decent living right out of the gate. Get a job that can pay the real bills and then start part time. Still take a class but start small. As you grow you will know when it is time to go full time. Another thought is to go to work for a taxidermist, learn the business and then look at branching out full time.

    I did this and still have a PT business after 21 years. I pay my bills with my teaching job and do taxidermy in the evenings, weekends and summer. During the year I try to mount one piece a week. Summer is more like full-time for me, minus the golf and airboating. I do about 80-100 pieces a year working around 500 hrs a year. I started with a gamehead training course and then built from there. I also teach a week long class over the summer for students wanting to learn. Most have 0 experience and they leave with basic business and game head skills along with a completed deer head mount.

    That is my 2 cents, good luck.
  5. J Cook

    J Cook Cook Taxidermy

    If you are into trapping and hunting, foget it, you won't have time if you do taxidermy.
  6. boarhunter67

    boarhunter67 Well-Known Member

    I would do everything I could. Get an apprenticeship, take classes, then more advanced classes, buy DVD's, etc. Plan on putting everything for the first 5 years back into learning and getting equipment. You'll learn a little bit from every experience. If you start out learning "college-level" techniques, but your experience is only at "kindergarten-level" you'll be wasting your money, but if you take it slowly and never stop learning, you'll pick up more with each experience.
  7. Duckslayr

    Duckslayr Active Member

    Best option - apprenticeship with a good taxidermist. Like already mentioned, school will get you started, but it will likely take years of practice to become a "pro". If you do go to school, get some advanced lessons from one of the big name guys as soon as possible. Too many guys finish school, throw up a shingle, and start "throwing" up mounts. It takes a lot of work to overcome public perception if you get a reputation for doing poor work.
  8. juli

    juli Active Member

    What he said...

    I 'apprenticed' for 10 yrs, I went to school too and while it was very educational and helpful, but there is nothing, nothing, nothing like working for someone who is GOOD. Taxidermy is not learned overnight or in 6 weeks. It is learned over a lifetime.
  9. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    The best advice is to join your State's taxidermy association and attend every seminar they offer....listen to every critique offered on every mount in their show. You might also attend a neighboring association's show if you don't have to travel very far and do the same there. Befriend a taxidermist from another state and ask for help....he'll be more inclined to help since you're not in his or her state. Purchase specimen from this site if you can't get them yourself and mount them. Buy DVDs made by world class taxidermists in their specialties....well worth the investment. Also put one or two of your mounts in a State show and have the judge give you an in-depth critique. Your buddies might say your mounts look great but they haven't a clue as to what they are looking at. If you think you're going to learn this trade quickly I've been at it for 64 years and I learn something at every show I attend, be patient. Good luck...JL
  10. Steven Klee

    Steven Klee Steven Klee Studios

    I agree with JL, state shows and organizations are always great learning tools.

    As far as apprenticeships, DVDs and the like, they only work if you are not learning habits that you have to "unlearn" later. This profession is full of people moving both forward and backward to learn and unlearn proper habits and techniques. Throw in spending thousands of hours, and dollars, trying to learn on your own and well, it can get quite overwhelming.

    No one knows you better than you. Are you a hard worker? Are you dedicated? Are you artistically inclined? Do you have a background in another field that lends itself to taxidermy and may put you ahead of the learning curve?

    Taxidermy is an individual thing that all boils down to what a person can do, and what a person can't do.

    My advice is this, spend the money up front to school with a "QUALITY" taxidermist and teacher. Do your homework and make sure you get BOTH in one shot. There are many out there who, simply put, are one or the other. This is just the feed back I've learned from my students over the years, both experienced taxidermists and beginners alike. In my opinion, it would be cheaper and less time consuming to learn proper technique right out of the gate. Of course there will be plenty left to learn after school, and results will vary from student to student but with determination and a positive start, an individual should be able to knock off years, and thousands of dollars, by going to a good teacher. Not to mention, if you do decide you don't like it, you may only be out the initial course money and a few weeks vs thousands of dollars and months you can never recover.

    The first rule of business is time equals money. It only makes good business sense to shorten the learning process as opposed to dragging it out..

    Best, Steve
  11. jaybwhitetail

    jaybwhitetail New Member

    Great stuff people....thanks a lot for all your input...appreciate it....thanks again
  12. Duckslayr

    Duckslayr Active Member

    I get where you are coming from Steve, but how much are you really going to be able to teach a total newbie? I remember being overwhelmed by just the basic mechanics of a mount...it took hours just to thin a nose pad lol! Teachers like you aren't cheap, I think one would be money ahead to have a general idea of how to get a hide on a form before investing in advanced training. Perhaps Rick's "Whitetails A to Z, mount 6-10 "practice" heads, then hire a teacher such as yourself when they have a chance of retaining it, instead of being overwhelmed with the basics.

    As far as a good teacher, couldn't agree more! There are guys with "schools" who couldn't win a red at a state show! Research, because newbies don't know what good work looks like yet!!!
  13. Start out small. Maybe a small game kit and some DVD's and it shouldn't a problem finding something small to mount since you hunt-trap and do your on tanning. It'll save you of a lot money in case taxidermy is not for you.
  14. Let me tell you. I went to a 8 week taxidermy course and basically learned how to put a skin on a form and create something that looked like a deer. At the time I thought they looked great. Went home and started doing some heads that I had in the freezer, and thought they still looked great. So started up a business and took in a few heads. Since then I've taken some 1 on 1 classes with great teachers and taxidermists, Steven Klee being one of them. Gone to a bunch of seminars. Let me tell you, probably the hardest thing for me to do was to get in a routine of breaking all my old bad habits. I was doing things wrong for so long and I started thinking they were right. I would say get Rick carters video and put one or two together just so you know that you can do it, and then spend the money and get lessons with a great taxidermist. It might be more money, but in the end it will be worth it. In my case I spent more time breaking old habits and going back to fix things, and we all know that time is money. I'm at a point now where I don't really have to worry about my old bad habits but it took about a year and a half to break them and get into the right routine. I'd say save up some money and go with a good taxidermist. Perfect practice makes perfect!
  15. Steven Klee

    Steven Klee Steven Klee Studios

    I get where you are coming from too Jared, I still stand by my post, mainly because of feedback from my students who mostly say they wished they had attended a quality class much sooner.

    To address some things here, first I have taught more than one beginner and keep in touch with most of them, they all seem to be doing well and are very happy with the foundation they have been given.

    Second, what do you mean by "advanced" training? We are talking about "proper" initial training here. Advanced training is reserved for the advanced, no one teaches open mouths or molding and casting to the beginner. Basics are basics weather learned through dvd or a teacher. The advantage to a one on one course is in live contact between two individuals in that moment dealing with the process at hand.

    I also never said not to try one or two mounts before a class. That is still within the realm of "right of the gate" is it not? My point is to get to someone qualified as soon as possible to learn proper habits.

    As far as a teacher like me not being cheap, well that's debateable. I don't remember you and I discussing my personal rates but that's ok. As you suggested, Rick's dvd = $30, we'll just take the lower number of 6 deerheads, materials plus shipping $900 give or take. 5 or 6 capes $ 750 give or take plus shipping. Don't forget your time, it is money too, and a beginner will spend more of it on his own trying to figure it out. Now comes the part no one mentions. You can now "double" the time and costs mentioned above because you have finally taken that class and find yourself absolutely hating your original 6 heads and in most cases, they will be remounted. For the price of what you suggested on the original 6 heads, a person could get a solid foundation in a good beginner gamehead course from someone reputable..

    Lastly, everyone complains about the hack, the lowballer and poor quality, so why would anyone suggest putting off "quality" education.. Just sayin'.
  16. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I hope that my reply was taken correctly. I believe that going to school right from the git go is not a bad idea. If you can afford it, do it. I was just saying don't start off with advanced courses when the basics haven't been achieved. After you learn the basics from a reputable teacher, which is easy to find on this site, and do some practicing, then go for more advanced lessons. Even with the lessons, the DVDs and books and associations all play an important part of it all. Community colleges have business classes which are a must.
  17. After reading this thread I believe that I am doing this the right way.

    There is a need in my area for a good bird guy. I have no doubts that I will not be "that guy" right away. I know it will take some time, but I think that I need to move now and get going. I'm not learning anything if I don't get on this ASAP and start learning now.
    So... I have talked with Glen Browning. He is a great Taxidermist by everything that I can find and I know someone that has taken his course. She was very happy with his course and has started doing some birds for her local shop.

    I am also looking at seriously taking the Joe Meder course for game heads. It looks as though he has a great program and will be able to show me the right way from the onset.

    This isn't a cheap thing to get started up as I am sure you folks know. I am not in a position to continue working in my trained field of house framing any more. I have developed a condition that is keeping me from being able to do this. And it isn't just old age! If there is a time to do this, I suppose it is now. I have some other things to help me pay some bills but I know it is going to be slim pickings for a little while.

    I look forward to watching the rest of this thread play out. I hope to learn a lot more from you folks that can offer advice to A rookie like me.
  18. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    From my experiences I have learned, that if you have some experience in taxidermy, then you will get a lot more out of training, from anyone. You will not need to spend as much time on the basics. Yes they are important, so going over them with an instructor is good, but often times they are pretty universal. You can spend more time on learning "their" way of mounting and finishing, whatever the subject. I can also say that learning to mount animals is a hell of a lot easier than learning to run a successful business. So whatever you do get some business training after or during your learning taxidermy but not before. If you have any business sense at all you may not venture into taxidermy.
  19. Matt

    Matt Active Member

    I've had several students in the shop state that they wished they would've taken some specialized classes instead of going to a school. I will say this, you are not going to get that one on one study at a school that you would with a reputable artist that teaches. Do your homework, there are a lot of artists out there that teach one on one courses.
  20. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Make plans to attend the World Show! You'll see and learn more there than you can imagine!