1. Welcome to Taxidermy.net, Guest!
    We have put together a brief tutorial to help you with the site, click here to access it.

Any Advice For Beginners?

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by kiyolsakie6, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. kiyolsakie6

    kiyolsakie6 New Member

    I'm really interested in taxidermy but I have no idea where to start! I don't have any dead animals lying around and I don't hunt. Should I ask around for spare carcasses? Or should I start with artificial skins? And are beginner taxidermy kits useful?

    Thanks in advance! I really appreciate it. happymod
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  2. John Stewart

    John Stewart Member

    I'm also "new" to taxidermy. In fact I know absolutely nothing about it. I have enrolled in a taxidermy course that focuses on Whitetail mounts and will be attending in October. My plan is to do taxidermy after I retire in 5 years. Between now and then I just want to get some experience under my belt and make a name for myself. Before I retire I intend to build a shop at my house specifically for this. I'd like some input from experienced taxidermist on things to accumulate, besides the traditional tools for the job. Freezers work racks etc. I'd like to know what experienced taxidermist wish they had when they started out and acquired as they progressed. Any input is welcome!

  3. Watch your local Taxidermy association for upcoming courses and workshops and sign up, you wont regret it. Plenty of DVD's and reading materials to get you a basic understanding of what is required and the steps. You can look in the for sale section of this forum to find a critter to practice on if you needed.

    I mounted a squirrel a few years ago, only using a DVD as reference on how to do it. Had never tried taxidermy before that, didn't come out half bad I don't think, definitely put me heading in the right direction.
    John Stewart likes this.
  4. byrdman

    byrdman Well-Known Member

    unplug your freezer and run !!!
  5. Kayla04

    Kayla04 New Member

    here is some tips and advice I have!
    I happen to volunteer at an avian wildlife sanctuary and a lot of wild birds hang around the area so every so often I happen to find carcasses around the property of wild birds. so that's mostly what I rely on but something I am doing and you can try is finding a wildlife sanctuary near you and ask them if you can take any of their patients that have passed or been euthanized. sanctuary's aren't required to send the bodies to anywhere as far as I know!

    I didn't start with any practice kits or fake skins, you can find a lot of helpful websites and YouTube videos that I relied on plus its free but feel free to use a kit if you cant find any useful videos for what your specifically trying to do!
  6. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    I started out looking for roadkill to practice on. Learn the basics first , skinning and prepping and measuring, before you learn to mount. The schools don't seem to teach the messy, blood and guts part of taxidermy , "the basics".
    Good luck.
  7. twinrivers

    twinrivers Active Member

    Richard is right about the schools not teaching that part of the trade, unless you bring the animal to school with you. In my case, I had just returned from Iraq and had to purchase the animals, some of which were already skinned out. I guess when you get your first animal purchase a video for it and watch it over and over until you feel you know and understand the process. Then give it a shot. There are several taxidermists that accrue capes over the years that may be willing to donate or sell them to you to practice on. I have several whitetail capes, but they aren't anything big. Always thought I'd mount them with donated antlers I have but you get busy with other things and they get shoved into storage. I'd be willing to part with them though, and the antlers.
  8. donkeyman

    donkeyman Member

    first decide what you want to specialize in birds - fish - mammals - some people just don't have the skill or patience needed to do it all so pick one and be the best at it - nothing beats first hand experience so find a shop that will hire you to work and learn from the bottom up starting with skinning and fleshing and sewing and maybe even tanning - learn by watching and doing -eventually you can start fitting and mounting up stuff but not in the beginning - first you have to put in your time learning the rest - everyone seems to forget this part and want to just start mounting right from the gate - this will just get you into trouble and a bad rep to follow - gotta learn all the basics first and it don't happen over night either! If you are serious you may have to move to find a shop willing to take you on but be honest about your expectations - schools are not cheap either and most don't teach the basics so you have to learn them somewhere - its all a balancing act no matter how you look at it - and then finally you will need to find an area that will have enough work to support you or get lucky and buy out a business that is retiring. Good Luck
  9. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    For starting out on mammals nothing beats squirrels. Tough skin, relatively easy. Get a good DVD like from Ellzeys. I think they have some online videos on their website. Minimal tools needed and forms are cheap. When I started on them centuries (lol) ago I wrapped my own bodies and boiled the skulls. Given that I was only twelve years old they came out sort of OK. I am sure you will be able to find someone that has a squirrel or two they would be willing to part with. Best of luck to you!

    Sam 10November1775 likes this.
  10. I am with Richard C. I started 30 years ago working on roadkill.
  11. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Why would you need to "specialize". If you can't change your mind into having a more prosperous avocation , specializing is a piss poorvwsy to start. When you hang out your shingle, clients expect a TAXIDERMIST. Specialists limit themselves to single species and im sure they're self-satisfied, but my clients preferred "one-stop shopping". Never tell a client you don't mount something (unless its a pet or protected species). I can't tell you how many clients I gained by doing squirrels and fish. Son kills a squirrel. Dad takes it to "his" taxidermist who refuses it. Comes to me and sees the deer, birds and fish, the he has a new taxidermist. If you can't mount it, contract it out to someone who will embellish your portfolio.

    Having said all that, it is under the presumption that you have that talent. If you dont have yslent, scools are simply more wasted money. Schools can teach you craftsmanship, the can't teach you talent.

    Personally, I like byrdman's advice.
    Westcoast likes this.
  12. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    In 35 years of doing Taxidermy I’ve never picked up a rd kill anything to mount or work on . It’s just that I don’t want to waste time on something that isn’t going to be the best it can be
  13. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    George, you said it best...do it all, or do nothing. If you get too much, raise your prices...that thins the crowd a little. My motto has been..if it's legal, I mount it (except for pets). At 65, I'm refusing anything heavy, like steer hides to tan and whole gators.

    Both of you need to start on something simple and cheap, like a squirrel. They are everywhere. You can learn plenty from videos, but you need to get your hands dirty quick...then you'll know if this is your gig, or not.
  14. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    I’m not George lol but simple mistake, I get it lol
  15. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    LOL! Have a good one!!!