My first attempt at taxidermy

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My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby rivercountry » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:04 pm

Ok guys here he is my first duck. I really enjoyed putting him together but, I Know there are some obvious mistakes. I really didn’t see the mistakes until the next day and it was too late to correct them. I think that I was just so pleased to have made it all the way to the end that I had tunnel vision. He looked so perfect and then the next day rolled around and I said “oh what mess I made of this awesome bird”. What sticks out the most to me is that I stood him up way too much (peg legged). The bill color is off it’s to blue and needed to be toned down. My initial feather placement complicated my grooming. As Pete pointed out in an earlier post I believe that the skin was way to dry on the inside and the feathers were still too wet on the outside. I groomed the feathers everyday for 4 or 5 days but I just never could smooth out the roughness. Feel free to critique me I would like to know what else I can do to improve on my next attempt. Thanks in advance for any help you guys have to offer.
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby Pete-pec » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:25 pm

I can't do that good, why the hell would I critique you? For a first bird, you are well on your way to becoming a master! There aren't too many people here who can honestly say that their first bird looked as good, let alone their tenth. I have very little experience with standing birds. I just don't have room for them, and my initial thought when taking on this hobby was to have a pair of the North American ducks in a flying (matching) pose. Seems now, everyone else wants the same thing lol? Anyway, I think you already know what is wrong, and that is the most important thing. I don't think the shade of blue is horrible? Tone it down with a very light overspray of grey or white, and it would probably look better? The bird looks smooth to me? Maybe the wing could have had the pocket feathers come over the top more, but the neck looks good, and overall, the balance looks good. I do't think it looks peg-legged at all.

I'm looking at it again, and I feel like you nailed your first bird, and should be pretty damn proud!

If this is your first, I can't wait to see your tenth!

That's my opinion for what it's worth. If someone wants to hack it up, need I remind you that it is a FIRST bird!?
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby teddysberna » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:30 pm

I'd be very happy to have that bird in my living room... I think you did a phenomenal job for your first attempt
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby Saltwater_Assassin » Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:19 pm

Excellent job, looks great for your first.
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby erp10 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:35 pm

I plan on starting this weekend on my first bird...if it turns out that nice I would brag about it :clapping: .
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby duxrus » Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:36 pm

:clapping: :clapping: :clapping:

Just a few things that stand out to me.....

You NAILED the head and neck shape :thumbsup:

Looks like your wings are set too low on the body. If you lift them up a little higher the sidepockes should "fit" over the bottom of the wings better.

To get rid of the "stiff leg" look, bend them back at an angle once you attach the bird and then bend the body to the desired position. It ill give it a more natural relaxed look.

His rear end looks a bit thick which gives the body a more elongated shape than needed.

His feet don't look injected or not enough...They should be plump to the point the bones wouldn't be showing once dry.

Again, I agree with everyone else. You are WAY above the curve :beer:

When I dry a bird, I first use an air compressor to "fluff" the wet feathers and to disapate the white gas. I then use a hair dryer set on high/hot to finish drying the feathers. You must be careful as to keep the air moving so you don't singe anything . I also make sure to always dry from head to tail along with NOT drying the underside (exposed skin). Once the feathers are 99.9% dry I then put it into my tumbler for 10-15 minutes.(I have never had an issue with the inside skin drying out on waterfowl) I use the tumbler for "preening" and NOT drying. After giving them a good shake to get most of the grit off of them I CAREFULLY use my air compressor again to fluff/remove grit from the belly side before putting it on a manakin. I do NOT blow air on the top side (the back). For me this takes 90% of the grooming away. I am VERY careful to always work forward (from tail to head) so the feathers will stay in place as I wire and work on everything. I also use a bath towel on my workbenh when mounting them to help keep the feathers from being "ruffled" as I work. This saves me TONS of time on the finish up work.
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby rivercountry » Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:06 pm

Thanks guys I really appreciate everyone’s comments. It really is my first bird now with that said I have skinned, fleshed, and repaired a lot of holes on a lot of birds prior to mounting my first one. I took birds that we breasted out and just finished skinning them out and turned the legs and wings. I would then flesh them out, sew up any holes, wash, degrease, and dry them just for practice. I know it sounds crazy but I felt like at least I was getting a little more use out of the bird and it was good practice. Heck sometimes they were so pretty when I got them dry I hated to throw them away.

Dux thanks a million for the tips. I am going to print them off and put with my stuff for the next bird. Dux, you and Pete both pointed out the wing pockets and I meant to put that in original post. You guys were right and that’s a question I was going to ask where I went wrong but it totally makes sense now. As for the feet they were injected but not enough. I had to really rehydrate them which made injecting tough because they already had syringe holes in them. Anyway thanks again for all the great comments and good the advice. I will put it to work on my next duck and hopefully there will be significant improvement.

Now my only dilemma is the only bird I killed this year that was worthy of the wall was a big Tundra Swan. Yeah thinking hard about whether or not I should undertake that task. I want him in a dead mount on beautiful piece of long drift wood that I found especially for him. Not sure if I am ready for that yet or should I seek a professional taxidermist.
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby duxrus » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:22 pm

You did great on your first bird but you don't want any part of a swan until you have plenty of smaller birds under your belt. Every techinical issue you have will be magnified 100 fold on something that size. You also will have "new bridges to cross".....Extra support , drilling the bones to remove marrow, most likely pin feathers, FAT like you have never seen the likes of, etc....and i assume you are thinking "A dead mount will be easy compared to a lifelike pose"....but it is harder to make a dead bird look realisticly dead than to make it look alive....add Gravity to my above list of new issues. :lol:
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby Slack Tide » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:01 am

That's killer!
I like the feet...seriously...
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby callumcuffumkillum » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:31 am

Dude seriously? First attempt, I don't believe you! That is completely awesome for a first attempt or 10th for that matter, cut yourself some slack. He looks better than some birds my buddies have had done by so called taxidermist. You have a future my friend!
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby Slack Tide » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:38 am

callumcuffumkillum wrote:cut yourself some slack.


You rang?
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby callumcuffumkillum » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:42 am

I dont get it, what am i missing
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby allnighter » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:27 am

callumcuffumkillum wrote:I dont get it, what am i missing


I believe that is a play on his name "Slack TIde".

Thats a great looking birds I hope to soon have all my tools and ducks in a row to start my first and I hope it comes out half as good.
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby 1080tommy » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:58 pm

I think it came out great. Looks very proportional and I think the neck and head look awesome!!!!
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby rivercountry » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:40 pm

Dux I ment to ask what I could have done different to fix the rear end and to keep from looking so elongated?
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby duxrus » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:14 pm

Remember that when you skin a bird the skin streches. It takes time to figure out exacly how to wire/tape/wrap/pin a bird back where the skin is where it needs to go. I personally use the next smaller size manakin and add a "U" shaped wire to form a support where the tail slot would have been. I fill the tail with filler and caulk (just enough for strength when it dries) and after taping the tail feathers in place, run a straight wire in from the back, under the tail through the butt area. I can then use said wire to slide the tail/butt forward tight against the manakin where it should be. You tape the wire underneath the tail and just bend it when the tail is where you want it. Once dry the wire is cut off.

Reasons for this method.....

You can adjust the tail easily downward, upward, or side to side depending on the pose

It allows you to adjust the shape of the rear end. You can manipulate the caulk inside to the desired shape.

The weakest area on a finished mount is the tail (I have fixed a kazillion of other people's mounts over the years) so the "U" wire coupled with the caulk and inserted wire add SUPER support and strength to that area.

I like the way i can easily bend the wires to go from a standing/flying tail pose to a radically tucked (cupped) tail in seconds with no worries about it not staying in place.

I hope this all makes sense.
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby labman63 » Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:16 pm

Looks good to me!
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Re: My first attempt at taxidermy

Postby The Duck Hammer » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:34 pm

Looks great. I would proudly display that on my wall.
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