Bazza, my preferred method is I will shoot a bird on the weekend take him home freeze him, and then the night before I want to work on him I set him out at room temperature and by the time I get home from work and get started, the bird is still a little on the frozen side, but as long as I take my time the carcass comes out and all blood and fluids are still frozen, or at least not running all over the place. If that all goes well and I still have time I will put him on my wire wheel I made and defat the bird. Otherwise I will wrap him back up and put him back in the freezer. Then on the next night I focus completely on defatting, and washing.
I honestly don't know how many birds it took me, before I had a completed mount. I'm sure more than it should. When I decided to start, I kept every bird that was in decent shape. I basically hunted as hard as I could during the season and kept a freezer full of skinned birds. Then I had enough to work on during the week and throughout the summer when I felt like pulling one out.
My first completed duck was a mallard drake. He looks like crap but I still keep him to learn from. He is on the wall in the bedroom. If my wife knew how much time I spent staring at it and coming up with new ideas on how to improve the next duck I'm sure she would be pretty mad.
Again, I'm not proclaiming to be a taxidermist, but my advice to anyone starting out on their own is to be patient and allow yourself some mistakes. If you are having a bad day, I personally would wait for a better day. Good luck and enjoy.
You've got to stand for something or you will fall for anything...