Taxidermy is a great hobby that helps you preserve your favorite animals’ memories.
It involves the art of reproducing life-like animals for displaying permanently.
If you consider getting into this hobby, you are probably wondering how to start.
So, How Can You Get Into Taxidermy As A Hobby?
To start taxidermy as a hobby, you should start by learning how to skin. Find legal specimens for skinning, most probably fish, as they are easy to get. Skin the specimen completely from nose to tail. However, as a beginner, you should stay away from birds and ducks until you have properly mastered small mammals and fish. The first and most essential aspect of taxidermy is skinning and proper animal care. The most straightforward way of learning the taxidermy trade is studying from an experienced taxidermist.
While some people try learning taxidermy by themselves by searching for information online and various books, this is hard.
Therefore, consider checking if there is a taxidermist in your local area and see if they can apprentice you or teach you the proper skinning techniques.
Watch, earn and ask questions as he engages in the act.
If the taxidermist specializes in certain mount types, you can ask for referrals to specialists in other areas and start networking while learning to craft various mounts.
You don’t need to get a college degree to get into taxidermy as a hobby. However, you will still require hours of training to gain experience.
Today, several schools in the US provide classes that range from part-time classes to full-time courses, which can be an alternative to a long apprenticeship.
The courses will train you to use chemicals and tools to treat carcasses, mount, restore color, construct artificial habitat, etc.
It would be a wise choice to start on one of these schools specializing in what is in demand in your county area.
However, enrolling in a course can be expensive compared to an apprenticeship so weigh your best option first.
Generally, begin by learning to skin from somebody who knows how it is properly done and then find a taxidermist or school to apprentice.
Most countries and states need you to hold a license to mount dead game animals like rodents, birds, deer, and fish. Hence, you will require to get a state license and federal permit to avoid fines.
How Is Taxidermy Made?
The first taxidermy step is dissecting an animal by applying the skinning technique.
This technique involves cutting the neck to the tail through the animal’s belly.
After removing the skin, salt or borax powder is applied to the skin and left for 1 to 2 days.
You should place it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This way, all the water can be extracted from the skin without getting decomposed.
After the skin is dry, it will become rehydrated through the process of soaking, pickling, and tanning.
You will then make a sculpture of the animal in a position gotten from its natural environment.
For instance, if the animal is a predator, you can consider placing it in an attack position.
Filing is also a very important step in taxidermy.
You will need to choose the ideal filling material to give your animal species the desired details and shape.
Customary, fish are filled with sawdust, large mammals with straw, and birds with tow.
You can also use different materials for the same animal.
For instance, you can use sawdust to fill the limbs and tow on the trunk.
Next, you will cover the body sculpture with the skin.
The skin is sewn using resistant thread that is unnoticed, which goes on to the most complicated part that gives it an appearance of life, including placement of skin, synthetic mouth, and eyes.
After placing the skin, the last thing is finishing touches on the color and any other damaged area.
What Are the Benefits of Taxidermy as A Hobby?
Taxidermy takes some significant effort, but there are various reasons why people still pursue it as a hobby. These include;
1. Productive Use Of Time
According to statistics, it is estimated that a normal American spends around 30 hours every week surfing the internet and watching TV.
This totals to more than 1500 hours every year.
Over time, you will turn into a skilled taxidermist.
2. Working With Your Hands
Today, most people spend most of their time sitting behind the computer and in white-collar jobs.
Taxidermy needs you to get off your comfort behind the screen.
There is always something special about working with your hands that you miss when working with electronic devices.
The sense of achievement and seeing your creation gives a superior feeling to tapping your keyboard.
3. Great End Result
Taxidermy involves capturing a moment in nature where animals are at their best.
When you get an excellent result, it will give you an incredible source of accomplishment.
Even better, a completed piece is something that lives on. as a hunter, this is the best way to display the prize you caught, or if you are looking to style your room, the taxidermy will provide you with excellent decorations.
Whether you are looking to commemorate your beloved pet, or a hunting trophy, learning the basic taxidermy skills will save you money in preserving various animals.
4. Make Extra Money
The best bit about pursuing taxidermy as a hobby is making a little side earner.
Normally, a small and simple taxidermy piece goes for around $150.
However, this is on the lower-end price scale. An average mid-range taxidermy piece goes for $400, while master taxidermists charge over $1000 or more for every mount.
This sounds good for a hobby.
How Much Money Can You Make as A Taxidermist?
If you are interested in starting taxidermy as a hobby, you probably wonder whether you can make money as a taxidermist.
Let’s be honest here, if you are lazy, you will not make much money.
However, if you are motivated and passionate and live in an area involved in a lot of hunting and fishing, taxidermy can be a lucrative hobby and career.
In this case, a taxidermist can earn around $5000 monthly and up to $10,000 each month during the busy months.
As a taxidermist, you can earn a good amount of cash through various types of projects, including;
- game heads
- life-size mounts
- European mounts
- antler plaques
Taxidermy is not a hobby for the lazy or faint-hearted.
It requires dedication and passion for engaging in it to enjoy the rewards that come with each correctly done project.
However, if you have a passion, you can easily get into this hobby with the tips reviewed above.
Find information in books and online, find an apprenticeship with an experienced taxidermist or enroll in a course and you are good to go.
Anybody out there in taxidermy? Any advice for someone looking to learn the art as a hobby/side job? – Field & Stream