My opinions on how to go about learning taxidermy

Discussions about learning taxidermy & picking taxidermist.
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Mountain Man
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My opinions on how to go about learning taxidermy

Unread postby Mountain Man » Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:16 am

Goober asked about how to get started in taxidermy in another post. I thought it would be better to start a new post so this wouldn’t get lost in there.

Here are my opinions on how to get started. If anyone has other opinions please add them to this post.

I believe the best way to start is by ordering some books and videos from a taxidermy supply company like McKenzie or WASCO. For example, if you want to learn deer, order the Breakthrough Whitetail Manual – it is an older book but the basics are covered from tanning the hide, prep work, mounting, and finishing. Buy and watch the Dennis Behn or Rick Carter whitetail videos a few times until you have some familiarity with what to do. Go on and learn some more – however, be careful about some of the advice given there since as a beginner you don’t how much experience the person giving advice has. Once you have been on there a while you will get to know some of the better taxidermists and who gives good advice and who doesn’t. Then try mounting one or a few of your personal deer to decide if it’s something you want to pursue further. One mistake I see a lot of beginners make is that they are so gung ho about doing taxidermy they spend a lot of money right away and mount of lot of animals with less than desirable results. Beginners need to slow down. They still need to mount animals but in many cases they need to spend more time studying the anatomy of the animals and learning other methods or techniques, otherwise they end up making the same mistakes over and over.

After you get the basics down then I recommend finding a good taxidermist that offers one on one training. The money spent on a one on one will be worth it as your work will improve (with effort on your part) and you won’t be making the same mistakes again and again which is a waste of money on supplies and your time.

If you don’t want to do a one on one or it’s too expensive you can join your state taxidermy association. For a small annual fee of about $40 +/- you can attend seminars, enter competitions for a minimal additional fee per entry and have your mounts judged and critiqued by world class taxidermists. For the overall small cost of being a part of a state association the return on investment of improving your skills is almost unlimited but that is only if you put forth the effort to learn by going to the seminars, talking to other members, and competing. Competing is not for everyone, and everyone does it for different reasons, but you will learn a ton if you do decide to compete.

Some people choose to go to a school. I never attended a school but I will offer my opinions on them based on what I have heard and read. For anyone that has attended a school, please post your experience whether it was good or bad or in between.

IMO the majority of people would be better off saving their money and learning from books and videos. Schools can be expensive and from what I have read you end up with very basic skills and the products of the business/school are pushed there. The schools can run into the thousands of dollars because you not only pay tuition but many times room and board, meals, and on top of that you pay for capes and supplies. If you go to a school you may find out after one or two days you don't like it. You won't get you money back. By going with books and videos you have a relatively small investment of maybe a couple hundred dollars. You mount some of your own animals and maybe you like it or maybe you don't. I looked at a school at one time but couldn't justify the cost so I learned on my own. Learning the basic processes (i.e. putting a skin on a form, etc.) are fairly easy but learning the anatomy and learning how to bring the animal back to life is challenging and requires a lot of time and effort.

That’s all I have for now. If anyone else has something to add please do, especially anyone that went to a school.

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Re: My opinions on how to go about learning taxidermy

Unread postby Spysar » Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:02 am

Thanks for typing this all out. I've been a member of for a while. If you go there asking questions, make sure you search the archives. There's a touchy bunch over there that gets cranky if they answer the same question over and over.
A buck will see you three times, and hear you twice, but he's only gonna smell you once.
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Re: My opinions on how to go about learning taxidermy

Unread postby huntinnurse » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:48 am

Great info and advice!!!!!!
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.John 3:16 KJV
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Re: My opinions on how to go about learning taxidermy

Unread postby Hurricane » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:49 am

Great post!! I would tend to agree wholeheartedly with that...I would add though, if one wants to learn the art, practice is key. It is very hard for beginners to get material to work you are interested in deer, don't be afraid to practice on some does. They are easily had during season and will give you some confidence when you are ready to tackle that first buck!

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