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How you got your start?

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by clschake, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. clschake

    clschake New Member

    Love these stories!
    Keep them coming please. :)
  2. Dave Byrd

    Dave Byrd Active Member

    I always had a fascination with taxidermy and finally decided to pursue it while attending mortuary school. I got a Dan Chase catalog, ordered some videos and went from there. I'm hoping one day to reverse the roles and make taxidermy full time and embalming part time...slowly but surely getting there.

  3. clschake

    clschake New Member

    Dave this reminds me of the conversation I had with my hubby on this first bird....
    He asked what I did to the feet and I said injected them, he said with what? I said embalming fluid, and I didn't use much so I have plenty to preserve you forever! LOL
  4. JessiJD

    JessiJD New Member

    Caught a 7# bass when I was ten years old. Cabelas had a van dyke DIY kit for mounting a fish :) in their catalog. It was a crude method of dp, fish filler, and brushed on paints. A nice man from chuch saw the fish after it was completed and made the comment to my dad that it was better than any of his lol. He invited me to come learn taxidermy at his "taxidermy" shop. He was a self taught taxidermist, most of his instruction came from Dan Chase videos, and everything else he made up along the way. He had a handful of customers that kept us busy through my middle school/highscool years. Strangely, I did everything but birds. Hate is a soft word to describe how I felt about bird taxidermy. 25 years later, im a professional taxidermist that specializes strictly in birds....

    Yep. Life is cruel. Lol.
  5. clschake

    clschake New Member

    and the stories keep getting more detailed and interesting.... yea!
  6. smitty0810

    smitty0810 Member

    I haven't been doing it for years like you guys have, I have only done 6 or so ducks so take my beginnings with a grain of salt. I got started because I started duck hunting and wanted to get some ducks mounted, so I took a black duck to a taxi who has been doing it for years. Well more often than not I wasn't impressed with mounts I saw whether it was in a sporting goods store or at a friends house. So goes the old saying, if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. So then one morning at work I drank too much coffee, found one of Tony F's videos on the internet and said what the hell, I ordered it. Then, shortly after, I had too much coffee again, so I found a local Community College course and took it.

    I mounted my first bird in that class and learned a lot, but Tony's dvd put me leaps and bounds ahead of the class, not necessarily in skill level (because it was still my first bird), but more so in general knowledge, the understanding or materials, some history, tools, and the importance of things like reference. I was able to better understand everything our instructor was telling us and often times found myself finishing his sentences. I ended up calling that taxi with my black duck and picked it back up from them (not that they did bad work because they have a good reputation)

    I am still new though, I am a person with a ton of hobbies. But so far I am pretty happy with my work, its good enough that people are surprised I did it, and want me to do birds for them but I still have a lot to learn and need more experience. Also as I have learned since I started, real taxidermist such as many of you on here don't take kindly to the hobbyist turned self proclaimed taxidermist who takes customers and doesn't produce quality work. Therefore out of respect for you guys I make a point to not call myself a taxidermist yet, although I think I am getting there!
  7. I went duck hunting with my dad way before I was old enough to hunt and would play with the dead ducks he shot in the blind.As I got older I decorated the clubhouse walls with my duck art and would gut a duck for a $1 a bird.I used to skin them just out of curiosity.Then when I turned 18 I tried to figure out how they mounted one of my dad's ducks.Went to the library and got a book.I also got a job with a local taxidermist but ended up just helping out skinning big game.Got layed off and the guy I worked with came over one night with a pheasant and showed me how.I saved all the ducks we shot and every day after school I would go practice in the basement.That was 34 years ago!
  8. Wildthings

    Wildthings Well-Known Member

    Back when I was a young man of about 19 I shot my first mallard and decided to have it mounted. A friend from high school’s dad did taxidermy and I took it to him. He informed me that he sends them out to a bird guy. No problem! That guy must be really good. When I called him weeks later he told me he had no way to go pick up the birds and if I would he would let me have my bird for free ($65). Off me and a buddy went to gather all 10 of the finished birds this guy had. Needless to say I wasn’t impressed with the neon green bill the mallards had and how the birds looked. Visited with the guy and found out he had never hunted waterfowl in his life. I think that explained a lot about some of the poses! Once back at my taxidermist I told him I wanted to start mounting birds and he gave me a few extra ducks he had in the freezer and said to show him when I was finished. Well the only place I could find anything out about the process was the public library and it wasn’t much! My first bird was a sitting blue bill and it looked atrocious but I didn’t think so at the time. That first mallard from 38 years ago! I’m looking at it right now on the living room wall! My wife has threaten to throw it in the trash but doesn’t due to the fear of divorce. It’s my reminder of my start in taxidermy
  9. BO-N-ARO

    BO-N-ARO Hunt hard but hunt safe!

    Grew up fascinated with the art, and it was not common around the east side of Kansas City. My best friends dad had a mule deer hanging over the fireplace and that was it. When I went to any outdoor stores, I spent the time looking at what ever mounts they had. First visit to a museum of natural history I almost O.D.'d!!
    When I was in my late 20's I shot a woodie drake and could not keep my eyes off of it and just had to get it mounted. I did not have the extra cash being married with three kids and one pay check but managed to scrape up the $200 and had it mounted.
    When I picked it up, I asked the guy what he thought about me taking a night class at the community college and learn how to mount ducks. He quickly said "don't waist your time and money". I replied, "than how does a guy like me learn how to do this?" He than asked why did I want to learn and I told him I had a freezer full of ducks to mount and he was to expensive!! He told me if I really wanted to learn, bring a thawed duck and $35 dollars to the shop that next evening and he would show me how to get a duck on the wall. I still have that pintail hanging on my wall, and that was in 1978.
    Oh ya, that big mule deer my buddies dad had hanging....... I did a remount of that guy using a new cape a few years back.... :)
  10. Same here Mr. Joey. I was twelve and my dad bought me a duck mounting kit and vhs for my birthday from J W Elwood. 20 yrs ago! My dad still has my first duck mount.

    Sent from my iPhone using Ohub Campfire
  11. When I was growing up I used to take my rabbit skins stretch them out on a board salt them put them in the sun to dry, loved doing that kind of stuff!
    When I was in my early 20's I had a pheasant mounted and was fascinated with it and wanted to learn how to do it but it was so secretive back then you couldn't find hardly anything on taxidermy so one day my wife found a book on it by Russell Tinsley, I think was his name, It had black and white pictures and was printed in the sixties I think. He did deer heads with wood frames, chicken wire, anyway he showed how to do a pheasant so I went out shot some quail, I followed his instructions from the pheasant, and mounted the quail worked on that little bugger till 3:00 a.m. got it together and looked halfway decent, I was hooked! Then got some ducks found an old mattress that had cotton and excelsior in it mounted the duck but didn't know where to get eyes so I went to the taxi that mounted my pheasant to see if he would sell me some eyes but he wouldn't do it! Finally my sister knew someone who gave me the address to Touchstone taxidermy supply, I wrote them and they sent me a supply book "it was thin" not a big thick one like you get today! I might add that one book was all I had I couldn't find another book on taxidermy anywhere back then! And the rest is history! I will add I mounted all my birds with excelsior, cotton, string, wire, a set of eyes, that's it! Oh! and clay.
  12. Tried to self teach from the WASCO series instruction manuals about 15 years ago on some ducks and a few antler mounts. Then the war started and I was fortunate enough to go fight in the Infantry for a couple tours. Towards the end of my last tour in 2007 & 2008 I had some time to think when I wasn't on patrol with my guys and I got to thinking about going back home to a dead end night shift job in an Iowa factory. I dreaded the idea of returning to that place and had always wanted to do taxidermy. So, with approval from my wife we decided to fund the schooling from some of the money I saved during the deployment. I called the school from Baghdad and enrolled. She said I could start in two weeks and I had to tell her I needed some more time because I was serving in Baghdad, Iraq. She couldn't believe I was calling her from Iraq. So anyway, upon return from Iraq I began classes and started my shop that fall. Very glad that I did that for myself. My wife took a few classes as well so now we work together in our shop. I still have a FT job though, but it isn't a dead end one at least.
  13. mallard1

    mallard1 New Member

    twinrivers, thank you for your service to our country. Neat story and nice that you can do this with your wife.
  14. clschake

    clschake New Member

    Ditto Thank you so much for your service.
    I love these stories. For some reason I wasn't getting the notices of updates. Been busy with a project at mom's. Trying to get her an addition for my handicap nephew and we got a shotty contractor... yep waiting for inspection and replacement contractor now so I had to get back to these stories and trying get my son's Turkey finished.
    Please keep them coming!
  15. bucksnort10

    bucksnort10 Well-Known Member


    Thanks for serving!!
  16. oskare

    oskare Iceland

    my uncle is a collector, fell in love with this craft in a young age, took a few birds to a taxidermist and thought i can do that, so i did, been doing taxidermy for 2 and a half years.. :)
  17. clschake

    clschake New Member

    I haven't seen any road kill stories yet.... I was wondering if anyone started with a pet or unique road kill?
    I actually thought about it the other day when we walked past a turkey. (knew I didn't have time to deal with it properly so I left it)