I've had an interest in taxidermy since I was a kid. I've tinkered with some skull mounts and hide tanning here and there, but I've never actually done a taxidermy mount of a whole animal. Until now.
A couple years ago I was able to attend a one-day waterfowl taxidermy seminar where I watched a professional taxidermist mount a teal from start to finish. There are quite a few steps involved in the process, and I got some valuable experience and learned some helpful tips from watching the taxidermist at the seminar. So I decided I wanted to give this a try for myself.
One of the tools I saw the taxidermist use was a bird flesher, which he had built himself using a low horsepower motor and a wire wheel, to remove all the fat and grease from the bird skin prior to mounting. I decided to build my own bird flesher a few weeks ago after seeing a few different designs on the internet. Here is my homemade bird flesher:
I used a clear rubbermaid container to serve as the containment area to catch all of the fat from the bird when it is removed from the skin by the wire wheel. An attic fan motor powers the wheel and is wired to an on/off switch.
The first duck I chose to mount is a nice American Wigeon drake that I shot during last year's duck season. I should have taken more pictures of the entire process, but unfortunately I didn't, so here is one I took of the skin while I was sewing up some of the holes in the bird in preparation for putting the skin on the mannikin. As you can tell it doesn't look like much at this point...
And here is the final product. I'm happy with the way it turned out for my first one. There are some things I will do differently on the next one as I hope to improve on my second mount. It was a fun project but some very tedious work.