Taxidermy supplies and tips > Taxidermist hunting

Taxidermist hunting

While it is unlikely that many readers of this book will undertake the collection of natural history specimens in any great numbers or as a special business, a few words on the subject may not be amiss.
It is well to bear in mind that the better the condition of the specimen when it first comes to hand, the greater will be our chances of success in properly preserving it. A small bird shot with a rifle is not worth bothering with unless excessively rare, and a fur bearer which the dogs have been allowed to maul and chew is very difficult to put in satisfactory condition.

One rule of the collector in the field is to shoot each specimen with the smallest possible charge of shot and powder which will kill it. I speak of shooting, as probably three-fourths of the objects
mounted by the average taxidermist have been killed with fire arms.

Of late years a number of collector's guns have been put out by the arms makers, though any good small bore shotgun will answer for collecting all of our small and medium sized American birds and mammals. Some of these guns of about .44 cal. are exceedingly accurate and reliable performers.

In one case this small bore shotgun has been combined with a rifle, and the light weight and portability of this little arm makes it about the last word in guns for collecting all small specimens.
It as well as other single guns of the same bore, is built to use a round ball in the shot barrel, making them capable of stopping deer or bear at short ranges. However, choosing a gun is like choosing
a wife, every one has their own tastes.

I would advise the would-be collector to load his own shotgun shells, at least those for small birds and animals, as it is almost impossible to get factory loaded shells but what are charged too heavily.

For the collection of animals for taxidermic purposes the use of traps will probably yield some of the best as well as the more rare and unusual varieties. Such styles of traps as least injure the
appearance of the finished specimen are preferred.

The old-fashioned snare, dead-fall and box trap are as good as any in this respect. The wire spring or choke traps of Stop Thief style are ahead of the common steel trap in this respect, but like the home
made traps cannot be used in so many various situations.

Water animals taken in steel traps may usually be quickly drowned. If set on land they should be tended often to prevent suffering and usually mutilation of the trapped game.

The naturalist uses more small traps than large ones in most cases; many, many more specimens being taken in No. 1's than in bear traps. Several styles of mouse and rat traps are useful in collecting the smaller mammals, such as mice, rats and ground squirrels of various species.

However you take your specimens or how badly damaged they may be when they reach your hands it behooves you to see that no further damage befalls them.

Specimens when shot should have all possible blood and dirt brushed or washed from feathers or fur and all shot holes, as well as mouth and nostrils plugged with a wisp of cotton to prevent further soiling. An awl, or piece of wire will be useful for this. Blood should be removed from white fur or feathers as soon as possible or it will be stained more or less. Small birds should be dropped head first into a paper cone, and laid in a basket or box if. possible, the common hunting coat pocket is apt to break delicate feathers, though if the bird is well wrapped it may do.

Fur bearers will stand more rough usage and may be tied together by heads or feet or packed in game bag or pocket. Fish should be wrapped in paper to protect the scales.

It goes without saying that specimens which it is planned to preserve should be kept cool if possible until work can be started on them. Some varieties spoil more quickly than others; fish eating
birds need quick attention; most birds of the hawk and owl family keep well, as do the pheasants, grouse, etc. Frozen animals keep perfectly in that state but spoil quickly after thawing.

Keep away from blow flies. Specimens are often sent to the taxidermists in apparent good order and when received are entirely ruined by fly maggots; the eggs being deposited before packing
and shipping.