Don't expect the Mona Lisa on your first few birds, just remember to learn from every piece you complete. I remember stressing out when I would mount up a bird, and at times, I still do, but with each one under my belt, I got just a litte bit better on nearly every bird. Write down what you've figured out, and take notes every time you figure a new or improved way to complete your project. Take good measurements. Have plenty of reference materials at the time of taxi-ing. Make sure you have all your tools needed when you start. Lay all your tools and materials out as you'll need them, and most of all, Keep it fun. If you are stressing on a perticular part of the bird, walk away for a few minutes, and return to what you set out to do. If you really want to learn the art of taxidermy, go out and find a reputable taxidermist in your area, who is willing to train, and fork out the money. Or you can try to do work for a taxidermist in return for some hands-on training. I was taught how to do 1 single bird by a friend, and wasn't shown with great detail. Well, I took the big leap, and did my second bird completely alone. You know what? It was alot easier doing it by myself. Sure I had questions, but I figured them out. I eventually learned some techniques that I ended up showing my original teacher. I eventually started doing the grunt work for him, and ended up doing all of his skinning and fleshing. That's when I started to learn anatomy, and learned what a good bird is and what a bad bird is. It's very difficult to make an inferior bird look good when it didn't start out good. An early season bird, a hard hit bird, a hard- mouthed retrieve by the dog, etc. These are just some of the things that can hinder a quality mount. That is the most critical factor in ending up with a good mount, is the quality of the bird to begin with. I dread the September Wood duck, but I love the January Goldeneye. Those two birds are definately on opposite ends of the spectrum! So to sum it up, yes, you will look at your first birds and maybe shake your head a bit, but don't throw them away just yet. Keep them around as little reminders as to how far you have gotten. Besides a few that I turned into decoys, I still have my originals. Yes, even my first two birds!