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What Was The First Thing You Mounted? How Long Ago?

Discussion in 'Deer and Gameheads' started by Robert Baker, Aug 26, 2022.

  1. Robert Baker

    Robert Baker Well-Known Member

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    Hmm, this topic doesn't quite fit anywhere.

    The question: What was the first thing you ever mounted? How did it turn out? How long ago did you get your start? What was the industry like when you started -- for you real old timers -- (were foam forms available or were you carving your own?)

    Just curious...

    Robert
     
  2. Jim McNamara

    Jim McNamara Well-Known Member

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    Interesting...gotta really reach back. Had just received the much anticipated Northwest School of Taxidermy book. I can not remember which subject came in the mail first but I tried my hand at a duck first. Bobs Taxidermy catalog and a VanDykes where what I recall as available options. Wood wool was easy to get and great to work with. Eyes sucked but that's what you had. Wrapped body and scissors for degreasing. Hanger wire was used for wings and neck and feet. Artist paint for finish if you could afford it. Used the real head with the wire stuck thru the top of the skull. Neck was wrapped as was part of the skull. Homemade mache'instead of clay.
    That mallard cross was a hideous mount. A good friend has my first attempt at a pheasant and it looks like I put a block of wood inside for the body.
    It's been about 46 years since that little venture into Taxidermy. Greatfully There was Taxidermy Today and another publication which I can not recall the name of which helped to open up the education aspect of our trade. Bob Williamson came along next and I really think Breakthrough and the advent of Conventions/ Competitions really allowed Taxidermy to become much more accessible and attractive to many .
     
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  3. Robert Baker

    Robert Baker Well-Known Member

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    Thats pretty cool Jim. Thank you for sharing. :)

    Even cooler that you know where your first one is.

    Robert
     
  4. whitetails and fish only

    whitetails and fish only Well-Known Member

    12 yrs old spring of 1961. Enrolled in Northwestern School of Taxidermy. No idea how taxidermy was done. Imagined that all kinds magical tools must be used. First lessons and catalog arrived and to my surprise it was full of tools such as hammers, pliers, knives, and all kinds of common household tools and material. What? Anyway I went to work and first mount was a Bluejay with a wrapped body and a lot of help from mom at the kitchen table. Next two were a pidgeon and a deer head, all horrible mounts and long gone. These were done between 1961 and 1969. No taxidermy between 1969 and 1979. Drafted in 1969, two yrs in military, married in 1973 and started a family, no taxidermy until 1979 when I got serious about it and have been at it ever since with pretty good results. Lots of info, tools and materials now that we could only dream of back in 1961.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2022
    Robert Baker likes this.
  5. Robert Baker

    Robert Baker Well-Known Member

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    Nice story -- thanks for sharing. I imagine its way easier today than it used to be.

    Robert
     
  6. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Sometime in the late 80s. I can't remember, but I think it was a fox that I killed on a fox hunt when I lived in Italy and I tanned it. When I got back to the states, I did a head mount or maybe it was a chipmunk that I did first. I have no clue what happened to them and it's probably better that way. Foam forms from Van Dykes' little catalogue. Next was a deer head. That turned out ok. I did it under a mentorship from Elstad's Taxidermy in Salem Oregon.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2022
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  7. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Northwestern School of Taxidermy, Class of 1971, LOL!!! I mounted a pigeon on a wrapped body. It looked looked warmed over $hit...but my mother said it was awesome, LOL. I probably mounted a dozen more pigeons, and the twelve one was just as ugly as the first! Ducks seemed to be a little more forgiving, and I mounted several of the in my early years. Mammals and fish came later. Here is a photo of me painting a carp...which never stopped stinking! [​IMG]
     
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  8. Trophy Specialist

    Trophy Specialist Well-Known Member

    1970s, fox squirrel. Still have it. It held up well. Still looks bad.
     
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  9. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    Deer foot gun rack and antler plaque 40 years ago, still have both, My first "Real mount" is a shoulder mount of a deer that I did probably 20 years later. I still have it and walk by it every day walking into my shop, it still looks like crap to me but it reminds of where I started. Now I have more work than I can do, at times, I can't imagine doing anything else. The industry has advanced tremendously everywhere from the the sharing of techniques to, until the scamdemic, the availability of supplies and the accuracy of those supplies.
     
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  10. Robert Baker

    Robert Baker Well-Known Member

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    Great stories guys! It's always interesting to see that a lot of you talented guys started out in similar ways.

    I agree 3bears -- it's a shame that the scammers have even infiltrated this industry.

    Robert
     
  11. Keith

    Keith Well-Known Member

    LOL, me too, except I think my year was 1982. I even raised pigeons for a few years just so I could have specimens to work on.
     
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  12. Mike Powell

    Mike Powell Well-Known Member

    I too am an alumni of the Northwestern School of Taxidermy. Completed the course in 1968 or ‘69. My first project was a rabbit shoulder mount with a wooden coaster (to set drinks on a table) as a wall panel. My second was a mallard. Both forms were made to twine wrapped excelsior with the real skull attached with a clothes hanger wire. I did quite a few small mounts in the first few years but around 1974 or 1975 I began to get preoccupied with other things and left taxidermy behind.

    Around 2003 (I was a missionary living abroad at the time) a minister friend of mine told me “every preacher needs a hobby - something he loves doing that will get his mind off of ministry - or the ministry will kill you!” Then, somewhere around 2005, reflecting on that advice, I looked into taking up taxidermy again and soon found taxidermy.net. The learning curve was considerable! Though some of the basics were the same, the art and business of taxidermy had changed a lot. I took a couple of seminars and joined our state association which I have attended faithfully since I joined. Both have helped me learn and develop the craft. But I will say, for me, it was this forum that was the main tool or source of information, instruction, correction and encouragement. Folks like old Terry, George, MichaelP, and many others took time to help me. I will forever be grateful to this forum and those who invested their time and experience to help me.
     
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  13. Robert Baker

    Robert Baker Well-Known Member

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    Great story Mike. All of them have been. I'm in your 2005 shoes lol. Thankfully there are a lot of skilled folks on here and many of them are more than kind enough to help and share their vast array of knowledge.

    Robert
     
  14. Kastaway

    Kastaway Taxidermist, Pioneer of Freeze Drying 1969


    Mounted a pigeon in 1953. Opened business in 1962
     
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  15. Bruledrift

    Bruledrift Active Member

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    First thing? a fish when I was about 8 (52 years ago) years old, about an 18" northern. My dad did fish taxidermy and I would watch and learn. He also worked a swing shift at Uniroyal so most times would not see him after school or during the day. I caught this northern and decided to mount it doing everything he did, measure, skin, flesh, put in borax, carve the form from styrofoam, clamped fins, supported to dry, etc. Well, it dried and was a little rectangular shape, but a little paint and I was proud as crap!!!
     
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  16. In the late 80s I started with sun dried polywogs on a stick. Then it was on to glueing woodpecker feathers to cardboard and salting cat hides. Any head I could chop or find I would try my best to clean it off in some form or fashion. Don’t use moms stove to cook rotting heads on was one of my first taxidermy lessons. But, My first commercial mount for a customer was a pedestal mount Cape buffalo under the study of Bob Wilkins at Wildlife Artistry. I had watched everyone mount exotic animals each day while I sewed, prepped and stretched hundreds of rugs. I thought it would be easy it was not, was definitely a sink or swim moment in life. Years down the road and thousands of mounts later I realized the favor he had done me. Few if any mounts I remember more then that Buffalo. I was the proudest young taxidermist on earth the day we delivered it to the customer. I don’t recommend anyone ever mounting a pedestal Cape buffalo but if you start with one few mounts can be worse.
     
  17. Trophy Specialist

    Trophy Specialist Well-Known Member

    I forgot about the fish that we caught when we were kids.. We caught some big Pike and bass and we cut the heads off them and nailed them on the outhouse wall.
     
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  18. Keith

    Keith Well-Known Member

    Don't use Mom's cloths washing machine to spin dry a wet skin either. LOL
     
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  19. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    Deer head I was 22 my client was 19 , he still has Deerhead with another 25 or so I’ve mounted for him and he is now my sons father in law . I just turn 60 .
     
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  20. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

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    I did this all the time. The best way to get the water out. Yes I got in trouble with the wife all the time. The new water saving machines aren’t any good. Get a old used one and hook it up in the shop to spin only.