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Where did you learn Taxidermy????

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by swb, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    Like many my age, Northwestern School of Taxidermy was my start at 12 years old. Tried it for a couple years. My work was lousy. Stopped doing taxidermy when I wa about 14 and tried it again when I was 16 -17 years old. Still lousy work. Joined the Marines and finished my four year hitch when I was 21. Tried again to do taxidermy (using the Northwestern Books). Still lousy then I found out about John Rinehart's taxidermy school in Janesville, Wisconsin. It costs too much but his filmstrips with a cassette recording was within reach and I could purchase as few or many as I wanted. (Before VHS tapes became popular) My work improved 300% overnight!

    A couple years later I went to John's two week bird course. My work on birds improved at least 500%. Bought a lot of tapes from John Rinehart and WASCO to help with my mammal and Deer heads. Left taxidermy for about 10 more years when I moved so I could run my business (not taxidermy related). Started back as a hobby in 1999. Did taxidermy for four years until I went back to school to get my masters degree in mathematics. Finished my degree and started again buying more instructional material but now on DVD.

    I still do taxidermy but still as only a hobby. I don't have time to work on anyone else's items.

    Once taxidermy gets into your blood, it never goes away! I always return even when I think I am done with it forever!

  2. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    No way! Thank God I never took pictures! ;D

  3. You must be Brave !!!!! ;)
  4. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    LOL..I look at them and wish I hadn't...but I can see some minor improvement in my work!
  5. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I had a great taxidermist by the name of Dwayne Tucker of Indianapolis tell me once, "Wouldn't it be great to move to a new location, once you do good quality work, so that no one in the area knows what your early work looked like?" ;D

    Of course Dwayne was being humble as I doubt even Dwanye's early work was that bad. But the comment made me chuckle.
  6. tazzymoto

    tazzymoto Well-Known Member

    I got my start with Rihneharts videos. Then seminars at the Michigan show with guy's like Bill Yox , Joe meder , Jan Vanhosen. Jean Roll and the list goe's on. The great thing about taxidermy is , When you learn something new! It's fun again
  7. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I'll probably catch hell for this but I believe most but not all of the very best taxidermists I have known never set foot in a taxidermy school.

  8. JerseyJays

    JerseyJays Well-Known Member

    You're wrong, they work there lol
  9. wa

    wa Thanks John...this depicts me better

    Leon L Pray
  10. Duckslayr

    Duckslayr Active Member

    Seems like a lot of guys that go to schools (not all) hang a shingle and start mounting stuff, spending little to no time/money furthering their education. I would guess that the majority of truly exceptional taxidermist out there have spent significant time learning from other masters of our trade, wether through employment, seminars, or apprenticeships. I would also say that the quality of the one running the school is huge. I could spend a month with Troy Rose and significantly improve some aspects of my work. I could spend a month at some others and teach the teachers how to significantly improve their work! Lol! (Not saying Troy's school is the only good one!)
  11. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Good one! ;D
  12. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    Yep...back in 1952 I found a whole set of Northwest Taxidermy lesson books someone had put out during a Boy Scout paper drive and got to keep and read them. Then I found the book Practical Taxidermy and between the two I got started. A local taxidermist died and the widow gave me all of his paper manikins and his tools, etc. actually everything he had, wire, eyes, excelsior wrapping twine and some bird bodies he had wrapped. Then she sent me anyone who asked where to go to get a mount done. I told all of them I was just starting out but if they liked my work they could pay me or not. Back then $.50 per inch on fish or $10 for a bird was great. My father bought steak for Saturday night if he cleared over $20 for his week's pay check so the extra money helped out a lot. Back then I wrapped a fish body with excelsior and covered it with plaster and sanded it smooth, then sealed it in shellac. Borax was becoming the preservative of choice over arsenic paste and that's what I used. The first bird I ever mounted was a road killed blue jay. I wrapped the body and made the eyes by carving the eye from a black wax crayon looked like a bubble eye we buy today. Eight years as an FMF Corpsman I went back to learning when I got out.....and still at it today. Wouldn't change one day of it if I could. Good luck....JL
  13. boarhunter67

    boarhunter67 Well-Known Member

    I apprenticed with a guy who had done it for 30 years and wanted to retire. I worked for him for free everyday after I got off work. The first few months I was just skinning and prepping. By the end I was doing everything and thought I knew it all. The last year he had me make up business cards with both our names on it and pass them out to all the customers. The last 6 months he said to make new ones without his name. I purchased 50+ DVD's and subscribed to taxidermy magazines. After a few years on my own I realized that I was in desperate need of more advanced techniques. (In other words I sucked.) I wasn't terrible, but I was average at best. I went to Rick Carter for a week. That helped a lot. A few years after that I went to a Yoxathon. That also helped a lot. I'm still nowhere close to a lot of people on here, but my mounts are better than most or all in my area. That's not hard, but since I started late in life I feel like I've done well. Learning is never ending.
  14. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    That is for sure! Even after all my years of teaching mathematics I still learn new things.

    Getting back to the taxidermy subject. I truly believe I learn something new on every mount I do.

  15. absmithtaxidermy

    absmithtaxidermy New Member

    My interest in taxidermy come from spending time with my dad, not quite every other weekend. He was always hunting and getting something mounted. I also had an uncle (who I only saw about once a year) who did taxidermy for a few years. For my 4th birthday, my dad gave me 2 deer feet that he had injected, dried, and put on a plaque.
    My first "mount" happened when I was about 8. Since I never saw my dad much, especially during hunting season, I wasn't around anyone who hunted. I didn't have access to any books or videos, or even any local taxidermists. It was a pair of wings off a house wren. I cut them off a bird I found dead, spread and dried them, and stapled them to a piece of barnwood. They hung on the wall in my bedroom.
    In 1992, during my last year in the U.S. Army, I was sent to Warrenton, VA. In Manassass, just up the road, was The Northern Virginia School of Taxidermy. They had a table in the local mall to advertise the school which had recently started. I stopped in and immediately signed up. I got the "military discount" for the "lifetime" enrollment plan. Requirements were to mount a fish (I did 3 trout), 2 birds (I did 2 quail and a pheasant)... A lifesize mammal (I did a racoon, a small beaver, a baby red fox, and 2 squirrels); and at least one game head (I mounted 2 deer shoulder mounts). Everything used dry preservative, I think because of cost, but you had to tan at least one hide. My dad has all my first mounts and they turned out great, with the help of the instructor, for a beginner's work.
    Since then, I have mounted a few animals off and on over the years; some not so great. A local taxidermist gave me some help as well. However, the instruction that took my deer work to a new level was joining the Association of Indiana Taxidermists and going to competitions. I have gotten a few ribbons with some whitetail shoulder mounts. The last time I competed, I got a trophy for best gamehead in the amateur division. I plan to make it to the show next year, since I have missed the last couple... and I will hopefully be competing in the professional division. I really miss the comradery and the opportunity to learn from some of the best taxidermists.
    I think the Northern Virginia School of Taxidermy only lasted a couple years. I know that the guy lost his wife to cancer a short time after I got my certificate of completion, and the school shut down.
  16. absmithtaxidermy

    absmithtaxidermy New Member

    BTW... I still have the deer feet plaque. It hangs in my shop and is where I hang my hats. :)
  17. After seeing that most of the local taxidermists plain suck and don't care about the crappy products they sell to customers, I started learning on my own. My arsenal thus far consists of:

    Rick Carter's A-Z Whitetail WASCO DVD
    Brian Harness' Coyote Mounting DVD
    Virginia Taxidermy Association's seminars (two years)
    2015 World Show Seminars (Rick Carter, David Ellzey, etc.)
    And a plethora of generous taxidermists on Facebook that hop at the opportunity to answer questions or assist from hundreds of miles away. Hands-on is by far the #1 way to learn!
  18. James Marsico

    James Marsico Well-Known Member

    I am still learning and trying to learn. I started with a school friend in the second grade back in 1962. We bought the JW Elwood course on the buddy system. My mom would not give me my share of the money so I mowed lawns in the neighborhood for the few bucks. We ruined several pheasants and a duck or two. My dad helped me mount a mule deer and it to looked really bad but I hung in there and I still am. To name just a few of my taxidermy mentors they are Randy Warner, John Miller and Joe Romero all former Jonas of Denver taxidermists that moved to Alaska in the early 70's. Joe Kish has and still does help me often.
  19. fullboar

    fullboar Member

    Troy Rose Artistic school of taxidermy and various seminars with some of the greats
  20. I'm just going to come clean, I started out by jumping on the "soft mount" bandwagon over at DeviantArt back in... 2009. Yes, I know, shunnnnnn! My first was absolutely terrible, and the worst thing about it was that I couldn't even really tell. I was so proud... Well, about 6 months later I did another-- it turned out a little better since I actually used clay on the face that time-- and then the following summer I decided to try a traditional lifesize on a squirrel I picked up.

    Well, long story short, in working on that squirrel I met a taxidermist just down the road who saw my interest and graciously offered to train me to mount whitetail deer for him. It was great, but man, I look back on much of my work from that time and I'm not satisfied with it at all anymore. I continued to do work for him on-and-off over the next year year while I finished up school, and then for 2 more years while I slogged through my first full-time job out of college as an accountant. Eventually I left that job and the area to return to Austin and pursue something else, and out of nowhere got bit hard by the taxidermy bug. The interest came roaring back unexpectedly. I reached out and soon met a taxidermist here in Austin who gave me the opportunity to start doing small mammal lifesizes and I just loved it. I've been a member here at taxi.net since 2009 but it wasn't until about this time that I really began to utilize it as a resource for learning.

    About a year ago I started my own small business. Began attending the mini-seminars put on by the Texas Taxidermy Association and went to the state show for the first time last summer, making sure to enter a couple of mounts in the professional division, and just had an all-around great time there. I'll be going back every year that I can make it. And that's where I am now! Just doing it part-time at the moment, but I'm learning so much and really enjoying every minute of it.