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My First Mount(s)! Critiques Wanted!

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by TheDecoyDude, Feb 17, 2019.

  1. TheDecoyDude

    TheDecoyDude New Member

    Hey everyone! I'm very new to the taxidermy world but I've been carving decoys for a number of years. Been a lurker on the website and wanted to show what I've been up to. There is a pretty steep learning curve to this taxidermy thing! Did a bunch of steps wrong but at least learned while doing them. I have also stabbed myself with wires countless times and cursed feathers even more haha These two canvasbacks are my very first "true" mounts. They are deadhang style. The bills are not yet painted (I actually casted them from the original birds). Please give any feedback you see fit whether it be positive or negative! Thanks, Andre' IMG_0115.JPG IMG_0110.JPG IMG_0118.JPG
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
    Micah Howards and GotHonks like this.
  2. Wildthings

    Wildthings Well-Known Member

    My first critique is don't use the thumbnail feature but full size on your post

    Hard to tell with all the tape but a couple things stand out to me on a dead style mount
    1. the hanging foot would most likely not be bent but would be straight where the strap is
    2. the eyes would most likely be closed or partially closed on a dead bird
    3. Excellent job from what I can tell and the bills are well done...should have painted them first
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
    bucksnort10 and BrookeSFD16 like this.

  3. TheDecoyDude

    TheDecoyDude New Member

    Thank you! I was really unsure of how much tape to use. I was probably very excessive.. I fixed the pictures too! Didn't realize how they looked. I see your point on all parts and will do better if I go down this path again!
    Wildthings likes this.
  4. Crittrstuffr

    Crittrstuffr Member

    Great job as mentioned the Eyes are open to much and leg position. I would recommend you use strips of tape to hold your feathers in alignment. You can see them as they dry better and make changes as necessary. With that being said I remove the secondaries from the bone some don't. I have to align the secondaries from the primaries to the scaps. If you left them attache d they will take care of that for you. Great job on casting your own heads! You may in time find it easier to paint them them install them but it's a call not a right or wrong thing. Congrats
  5. GotHonks

    GotHonks Member

    They look really Nice , if those truly are your first actual waterfowl mounts they look better than many Taxidermists that have been doing it for yrs , birds anyway ... What I tell beginners right off is that if you don't clean , wash and fluff your bird skin correctly , don't bother mounting it .. Looks like you have the most important part down ...The small details like eyelids on dead mounts being semi shut and pre painting your bill are things that will come with time and tips from places like this forum ... Lots of helpful folks on here ... Can't say my first 5 or 6 looked that good when I started .... GOOD job !
    TheDecoyDude and Wildthings like this.
  6. TheDecoyDude

    TheDecoyDude New Member

    They are my first mounts I promise you that! However I have a good bit of experience carving waterfowl which helps with understanding the anatomy. Wings are something I don't mess with too often. I've skinned maybe 3-4 birds besides these. I was actually trying to mount a gadwall yesterday and totally destroyed it when fitting onto the body. Not sure what happened but after fleshing it was incredibly delicate. Really upset because I had done all the washing etc. and it looked great off the form! Going to try a scoter next! I appreciate the comments!!!
  7. Jim McNamara

    Jim McNamara Well-Known Member

    That gadwall just needed sewn up. Learn how to repair them, it will save you heart break when you tear up a real trophy. If they get fragile sometimes I dry the inner skin some before trying to work with them. Wet the skin around the eyes and you can adjust the eye lids. Very nice work just the same, very nice. Only gonna get better too.
    TheDecoyDude and bucksnort10 like this.
  8. GotHonks

    GotHonks Member

    Can't tell you how many birds I messed up either on the wheel or after washing and getting the skin to dry then trying to make it fit a body that I knew fit before I dried it ..... It's still one issue I deal with being I blow dry the bird .. I try to keep a wet paper towel on the skin while drying birds .... Probably going to get my tumbler back up and running , it speeds up the drying process 10 fold .. The down needs to be fluffed if you want to track feathers easier ... I hear these guys say it only takes a half hr to dry a duck , maybe the feathers are but the down most likely isn't ... usually takes 2hrs for a duck , and 4 for a small goose ... Using warm air ....
    You can fix some tears depending on where its at ... Most of my ruined birds were beyond sowing up .... Just remember your still learning , don't get to mad about messing one up ... You gotta learn to walk before you run ... I'm self taught , learned from a book ... I learned about everything I know the hard way ...trial and error .....still make mistakes on every bird ... learn how to hide and fix problems that the bird came with , and more importantly mistakes you'll make ..
    But your on the right track , your next will be even better ... Practice , makes perfect ..... Keep at it ...
    TheDecoyDude likes this.
  9. bucksnort10

    bucksnort10 Well-Known Member

    Your mounts look great for a start. I won't repeat the suggestions from above but will offer a couple of others:
    1) You can get away with a lot narrower tape. A lot of us use painters tape for its release agents. Also get in the habit of first putting the tape against your pant leg or such. Then it won't stick as much to the bird's feathers, but will still hold them in place.
    2) Regarding drying. Quite a few of us don't use a tumbler at all. You need to work through what works best for you. One needs to get all of the feathers dry. Especially the downies. That what will give the feathers lift and make the birds look so much nicer and fuller. If you are concerned with the skin getting too dry after blow drying, what I do is take say a 1" wide paint brush that has been moistened in some water and lightly dab it on the skin. Works great to help rehydrate the skin. Note the brush does not have water running off of it .... Or you will get it up onto the feathers and will have a mess again.
    3) With your blow dryer I always try to only blow air in the direction that the feathers naturally lay. I know that takes a lot longer to dry them, especially the downies. But the upside is I get a lot less twisted and out of place feathers especially on the smaller coverts on the wings. I try to be especially careful in that area.
    4) Don't get stuck on doing things the way Joe Blow Taxidermist does his birds. You need to find out what works for you.
    5) Don't quickly throw away a bird that you think is all messed up. I quite often surprise myself on how great they turn out looking in spite of the issues underneath the skin . . . Plus you can learn a lot on how to fix things which you will need to know when you mount that once in a lifetime bird.
    6) And one of the more important ones for last. Don't be in a rush to get it mounted up! Take your time on each step and do a good job as you go. I think we all have fallen into the trap of "let's quick get this mounted up, I want to see what looks like". A lot of your feather alignment/preening can more easily be done on the bench B4 you put it onto the form.

    Good luck and we look forward to seeing more mounts from you.
  10. Wildthings

    Wildthings Well-Known Member

    Some great words by Dan above. I'm one of the ones who don't use a tumbler and hand dry all my birds with a reversed shop vac and a hair dryer. Down here on the TX Gulf Coast with the high humidity it's a chore to get them completely dry. It's usually not a concern of the body skin drying out but the head area so it always get a moisten paper towel inserted to keep it from drying out.

    The shop vac is used to dry the feathers to about 95% and the warm hair dryer finishes them for the final fluff of the down. Just be careful with the heat and keep it moving at all times.

    If you think that gadwall was incredibly delicate wait til you try a Woodduck!! Yikes!! Now that scoter will be a completely different matter and after cleaning the skin lets out quite a bit
  11. GotHonks

    GotHonks Member

    You guys are Great , Love the info ...bucksnort10 , I do a lot of the same as you stated .... But like said whatever works best for each individual is the way to go .....
  12. TheDecoyDude

    TheDecoyDude New Member

    Wow! Thanks for all the great responses! I struggled getting the twists out of the canvasbacks' feathers so I totally understand how not blowing "against the flow" of the feather tracts would have helped. I don't have a picture of it, but the only area I should have blown much better was around the breast incision. Due to that I wasn't able to cover up that area super well. Luckily the breasts are facing the wall. Taking off the tape was a stressful process, as many of you mentioned, it was over taped and the strips were much too wide. Will certainly not be doing that again! I was not able to mount the gadwall right after I dried it so likely it was too dry and I kinda threw in the towel. I knew it could be probably fixed but I tore a 3" hole in the breast and tore the neck incision pretty well too...

    Oh and the birds I have left to mount after my scoter (super fatty) are two wood ducks...:( Only can mount what I kept from this season and unfortunately it was kinda slim picking this year.

    Thanks for all the encouragement! I can see how bird taxidermy can become quite the addiction especially when incorporating the habitat that many of ya'll are able to create!
  13. bucksnort10

    bucksnort10 Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys and gals for the compliments on the suggestions. Just trying to pass along information as others have done to me. Am I an expert bird taxidermist? No. But to me at least my birds are starting to look more like a live bird. Ha! I still have a long ways to go to get to where I want to be on my birds. Maybe I won't get there . . .
    GotHonks likes this.
  14. bucksnort10

    bucksnort10 Well-Known Member

    Barry, In the past I had quite the opposite experience on birds up here. In general our humidity is so dry that you never have a chance to taxi skin/feathers around after mounting a bird up. Maybe that is why to this day I do my heads/necks differently than probably 99% of the people doing birds. I do the head/neck separated from the maniken body. I do it first so I can get the skin aligned straight on the neck. Plus I can preen/taxi skin/feathers on all sides of the bird's head/neck more easily. Couldn't easily do that before. Anyway sorry for the rambling. Once you get me going ...... I better quit now. Or I will be writing a text book. Ha. In actuality I so much want to help other people out. : )
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  15. GotHonks

    GotHonks Member

    Hey DecoyDude , little mistakes like you talk about will not happen once you mount a few more , learn from each mistake ..... You can get away with mistakes as you mentioned on your Canvasbacks belly .... Your Show side is what matters , although I do my best to make the entire bird look good sometimes you just can't so you hide it best you can ....
    When I decided to start bird taxidermy I saved up 20 ducks and mostly all Ring Necks ....
  16. Wildthings

    Wildthings Well-Known Member

    Ramble on Dan, text books are welcomed!!
    bucksnort10 likes this.
  17. Show & Tell

    Show & Tell New Member

    I have a duck that had so many bullet holes. Once mounted it had a few stray feathers on head and neck. It's a dead hang so not such a big deal. Though it's still bothering me. Can that be fixed? Can I maybe put a lil hair gel under a stray feather to get it to hold down?
  18. 13 point

    13 point Active Member

    If it’s a few that won’t lay and it’s here or there , a small kinda thing just pull that feather
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  19. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    Sometimes just removing the feather is much easier than trying to get it to lay correctly...as long as there are not too many in the same small area!

    I think the bird looks pretty dang good for first mounts. Great advice from many folks on this thread.
    Show & Tell likes this.