Before I write anything, I want to put forward that this was my first bird and I expected mistakes. I did not expect it to utterly fail as bad as it did but that’s what happened so oh well. Regarding this post, I am curious if some of you more experienced folks can help me find an answer to this dilemma. I started a wood duck a few weeks back (first mistake being choosing a wood duck to start on). I was able to skin it nicely, no holes. The fleshing is where it got bad. I don’t have a fleshing wheel (one is on its way) so all fleshing was done by hand. I spent hours fleshing it to what I thought was good enough, even though the skin was basically Swiss cheese. At this point I nearly considered quitting but kept going. I took the bird and washed it in lukewarm water with dawn, and gave it a bunch of rinses in cold water. I grabbed my girlfriends hair dryer and blow dried the bird, and once those feathers started fluffing back up I felt reinvigorated that this was gonna turn out! Mistake 2, I used hot air when I think I should have used cold air, might be my problem. Anyways, I then put the skin in a ziploc bag and put it in my fridge crisper (mistake 3). Unfortunately it was left in there for about 2 weeks both because I forgot about it and because I was waiting on parts for it. The parts came in, and when I pulled the skin out and opened the bag it smelt awful, indicating I needed to flesh it more. I put it into another dawn bath to help get rid of the smell but noticed there were a lot of small feathers coming off of the bird. I ignored it for now, rinsed the bird and spent another few hours fleshing more and sewing up the new holes. Once I was satisfied (much better job done this time), I went to was the bird once last time. It was at this point that I realized something was wrong. While washing, all of the feathers from the breast up to the head came off. Like just washed right off. The bird is now in the garbage, great first start to taxidermy. So anyways, I’m curious if anyone can tell me how to prevent this from happening again? is it from over-fleshing? Leaving it unfrozen between stages? (I.e in the crisper). It was an early October bird, was it due to pin feathers? Was it the hot air? I get disheartened easily, especially on something I spent so much time doing but I love doing this stuff, any help on how to avoid this happening again would be awesome!