As Green As It Gets

A forum to discuss taxidermy techniques and mounts.

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As Green As It Gets

Postby SouthGeorgia44 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:34 pm

Hey fellas,

I'll be moving down to the gulf coast in a couple weeks, and will be doing some diver hunting from a kayak/layout boat in some of the shallow flats down there. And so I'm expecting at least one or two of the thousands of redheads to land in my spread sooner or later and dropping one.

I've been hunting in Georgia for the past couple years, and it's rare that we get any redhead, pintail, etc. And so I'm pretty excited for the opportunity, and I know I'll be wanting to mount one or two if they are worthy. Problem is that I can't be spending $200+ on a mount from a taxi (college student), and I thought it would be fun to try it on my own.

I was wondering if you guys could share your opinion about if it would be worth it if I started trying to do my own birds. I have seen a couple videos, and of course it looks easier than what it really is. If it was, everyone would do their own mounts.

I know it takes A LOT of practice, but hopefully I'll have plenty of birds to practice on. If any of you guys have any tips, feel free to chime in. Thanks guys
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Re: As Green As It Gets

Postby 1080tommy » Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:47 pm

I did my first attempt last year and skinned two mallards. One drake that was shot up really bad I practiced on and he came out nice. The hen I skinned out and ordered the mannikin, I did not receive the mannikin for two weeks and I made a body and she came out pretty nice. I still have her but she dried out before I could put the mannikin and head in. This year I have a nice drake, a common merganser, and hopefully before the season ends, I will have another hen to mount. I definitely think it is time consuming work, especially fleshing. I found skinning to be the easy part. I thought that I got all of the flesh out but as I looked at the skins, there was a little bit of oil on the feathers. I think you will be able to do it and make something nice even on your first try, just take your time and concentrate on the fleshing and degreasing. Good luck! I hope to have some pics this year as my mounts get completed.
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Re: As Green As It Gets

Postby King Eider » Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:34 pm

Yes it is worth it.

As you said practice practice practice. Watch every video you can and if possible get with a taxidermist to hold your hand through the process once. You will learn more there than watching videos. AND in the end what ever works for you keep doing. Also keep an open mind to learn a different way to do things. I have seen a progression of my work has improved every year for 18 years now.as I try new techniques. With all that said start with divers (your abundant Redheads you speak of) as they have tougher skins than puddlers and less likely to trear causing gunshyness on future birds. You WILL make mistakes so don't expect to have your first bird turn out the best.

IF you are going to take this venture seriously then invest in some equipment. Make or buy a fleshing wheel. It will save you a lot of time and is easy to get good at if you have patience. Don't skip any steps that you have seen on your videos and when you work on a bird plan for an appropriate amount of time so you arent freezing and thawing the same bird a number of time which will eventually cause the bird to fall apart.

Lots more but that is a begining.

Good luck and don't give up.
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Re: As Green As It Gets

Postby SouthGeorgia44 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:27 pm

Thank you for the quick replies! This has been a lot of help. I think I'm going to do it as soon as I shoot a few birds after christmas.

The only FULL video I have seen seems like it was made in the 90's and it seems a little out-dated, but it did show the complete process of skinning and mounting the bird. So I'm sure some of the techniques are a little different nowadays. He didn't use a molded body or skull and beak. And the other videos I've watched were short and don't show very much. I guess that brings me to a couple questions for you guys.

Is a fleshing wheel essentially a bench grinder with a nylon brush head? And if so, how would I make one?

And I know there's not an easy mounting position, but is there a mount that I would have better success for the first time? Dead mount, standing, flying? I just want to make sure I make it look as natural as possible.

Also, would it be better to skin the head from around the beak and skull and use a manikin head/beak or would I be okay with keeping the skull and beak? I know it may be a little more time-consuming by getting the brain matter and all the other junk out of there, but if it will save me money in the end, I'm willing to put in the time.

Thanks again! I really appreciate the help and info!
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Re: As Green As It Gets

Postby King Eider » Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:59 pm

Fleshing wheel is not essential but easier. You can flesh with a pair of sharp scissors or wire brush but will take a long time. Bench grinder will eat your skin up. You need a 1/4hp motor with a fine bristled wheel. Search this site or other taxidermy sites and you should find plans to make one cheaper than you can buy a pre-manufactured one.

Your choice to use real head(skull) or artificial. I recommend using artificial. Skinning is easier and you won't have to sew up the incision. Looks better in the long run.

Position... again your choice. Mounting is the same for any position dead, flying, standing... all limbs are wired. Unless you do standing, some people pin the wings into position.
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Re: As Green As It Gets

Postby 1080tommy » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:54 am

I used scissors for my fleshing tool and it did work, but I did not get enough material off because a year later I did notice a slight bit of grease in the back feathers. They birds still look good but I know better for next time. If you use scissors, make sure you can see the feather tracks and then go a bit more. I went until I could see the quills on the skin but I needed to do a bit more because of the excess grease. I did a flying mount and thought the position was pretty easy. I agree that an artificial head should be used because when I completed the mount with the real head, there was some shrinkage. I just got the head for my drake and it looks really great. I thought that the flying mount seemed easier between the standing because after wiring the wings, it was easy to position them outstretched to simulate a flying bird.
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Re: As Green As It Gets

Postby SouthGeorgia44 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:31 am

Oh ok, yeah I looked up some plans to make a fleshing wheel, sorry for the question, I should have thought to look it up first. It seems pretty simple to make.

Well, it seems like I have all the knowledge and info to get me started because I can't think of any more questions. I'm sure I'll have more later one when I get started on some birds, but I want to thank you guys for the help. If you guys have anything to add, please feel free.

Thanks again! Hopefully I'll have some pictures of a couple mounts to show you guys in a couple months!
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Re: As Green As It Gets

Postby 1080tommy » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:57 am

Good luck, I found it to be a really cool thing. I am really hoping that the mounts I do this year will come out good. Hope to have some pics as well. Going to get started on my mallard drake probably next weekend unless hunting picks up this week. We have a week and a half left in the season and I am going out tomorrow. Hope to see some new birds and if not going to try one more time Sunday. If it is the same birds I think the boat will be winterized and time to mount. I am planning on my mallard drake, a friend's common merganser, and at least one pheasant this year.
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