How Taxidermy Works

Taxidermy Tips for the Outdoorsman

Young children look at exhibits at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland.
Young children look at exhibits at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Unless you­ want to drop $2,000 to $5,000 on taxidermy school, you'll be relying on a local artist for your mounting needs. Choosing a taxidermist is crucial for ensuring a nice finished product. You may save a few bucks by going with a cut-rate operation, but when your bobcat ends up with a toothy smile, don't be surprised. Like with anything else, you get what you pay for.

Visit the taxidermist's shop and check out his work. If he doesn't welcome you into the shop, turn around and walk away. You should also ask for references. If the taxidermist did a good job, your mount should last a lifetime. You should also talk price and turnaround time beforehand so you both know what to expect. It's also advised to leave taxidermists alone until your finish date -- they're notorious for not taking kindly to phone calls inquiring about the progress. If you end up with a bad mounting job or if years later the mount has begun to deteriorate, a good taxidermist can fix your issues. Snap some detailed photos of the bad spots and take them with you, or simply take the mount if it's not too much trouble.

Here are some tips to follow if you're a hunter or fisherman and plan to have your animal mounted:

  • Keep the bird or mammals as dry as possible and cool.
  • Don't drag a deer if you can avoid it to help keep its hair intact.
  • Hang a deer to help cool it and never leave it lying on its side.
  • For birds, cut the foot from a woman's nylon hose and slip the bird into it to help preserve the feathers.
  • Wipe any blood from the feathers of your fowl.
  • Never use a basket, net or stringer for a fish.
  • Don't let a fish flop around inside a cooler.
  • Wrap fish in a soaking wet towel with the fins smoothed back.
  • Never wrap a fish in newspaper; it will soak up the moisture.

Following these steps will increase the odds of ending up with a nice looking mount.


­Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • "Choosing a Texidermist." Turkey Creek Taxidermy. 2008.
  • "Fish Taxidermy Techniques." 2008.
  • "Taxidermist License: Frequently Asked Questions." Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2008.
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  • "The Origin of the Jackalope.", 2008.
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  • Aldrich, Eric. "How'd They Do That?" Wildlife Journal. 2008.
  • Barkham, Patrick. "Back from the dead." August 8, 2006.
  • Davie, Oliver. "Methods in the Art of Taxidermy by Oliver Davie.", 2008.
  • Murrell, Marc. "Taxidermy creates lasting memories." Topeka Capital-Journal. Nov. 25, 2007.
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  • Penn School of Taxidermy. 2008.
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