A Beginners Guide to Taxidermy
by Brian Coughlan, 3.24am Sept 10th 2021

‘RECORD’ button pressed on tape recorder.

Clears throat.

Chapter 1: Getting started. Very few hobbies can provide so much instant gratification for such a minimal investment as taxidermy. The primary consideration when commencing is finding a suitable place to do the work. Since a considerable amount of slimy viscera is inevitable the location you select should be agreed upon in advance with other members of the household. Significant others will usually agree to some reasonable compromise when delicately approached, and indeed they generally turn out to be surprisingly enthusiastic when they see the end result. One cannot emphasize enough how much it pays off to have their consent upfront: especially if the project turns ugly, and involved, and the whole house begins to stink of badger entrails.

Coughs.

Locate the worktable or ‘evisceration zone’ in a well-lit place, near a clean water supply, if at all possible. There should be ample elbow room for eviscerating tools and sundry materials within easy reach. They should be laid out in a methodical manner so as to be instantly available; if say the muskrat you are working on gets agitated half-way through the process, you will want to get your hands on a scraper fairly quickly. A planning-ahead system is really the best way to gets things done. Neatness and order makes the whole thing so easy. The kitchen table, the dining room table, or an infant’s changing unit may prove suitable according to individual requirements. Very often a combination of areas will be used; for example, skinning, fleshing, or squibbing operations might be done in the ensuite bathroom or downstairs toilet, while actual mounting work can be done in the family room, while the rest of your loved ones watch some light entertainment, such as a variety performance or nude dating contest. Tool requirements for taxidermy are few and simple, most of them can be fashioned from items lying around the house, for instance a curved grapefruit knife with serrated edges is ideal for small mammals. When it comes to knives the first requisite is that it will slice nice and easily through flesh; a surgeon’s scalpel is ideal but refrain from bothering a physician – they may be purchased from a mail-order dealer for a nominal sum.

Clears throat noisily.

Learning by getting your hands dirty is much more than a well-worn cliché when it comes to taxidermy. However, knowing upfront a few of the accident black spots likely to be encountered in say, bird mounting will greatly help the amateur. Difficulties usually occur in skinning around the posterior or tail end…excuse me. pologies, that damn television!

Faintly, from another room.

I asked you to turn it down! I’m recording the first chapter. At the door? Oh, just some idiot who wasn’t happy with his dog. Gives him nightmares, apparently. What are you watching? This again. I suppose so. Pause it and I’ll get the popcorn. The state of his calves. Why do they have so many tattoos on their legs these days? I don’t get it. I mean you’d have to wear shorts all year round to get the milage out of them. Cup of tea? Fine, but don’t go on any further on without me – I want to see who she picks. Let me just finish out the introduction to Chapter 1.

Clears throat noisily. Voice much clearer and louder now.

Where was I? Yes, here we go. Taxidermy is truly one of the greatest means of preserving nature that we still have at our disposal in the modern age. It can serve so many purposes quite aside from the obvious pleasure to be had in removing the insides of a creature and replacing with a mixture of polystyrene and borax: like for instance as an educational tool for children who will perhaps never meet a badger, a stoat, a pine marten, a fox – whilst stumbling or flailing through thick undergrowth; or to help struggling artists capture a truly life-like vivacity in their work; or just to sit up on top of the television set or in some nook in the house where it can accumulate dust and stare out blankly at the people watching a programme where the contestants have no clothes on.

Sound of doorbell ringing. Sound of footsteps. Door opening. Faintly.

What now? That’s nothing got to do with me, sir. All I do is stuff them. What you do in the comfort of your own home is no…I will do no such thing! The process was explained to your daughter. She brought Mr. Poppystockings, I did the job, she was perfectly happy with the…Ah, would you ever head off with yourself! O really, what are you going to do about it? That’s right - slink off with your tail between your legs.

 

Door slams. Sound of footsteps. Angry inflection to voice and very loud.

Let’s start over again. Chapter 1: Getting started. Very few hobbies can provide so much instant gratification for such a minimal investment as…what’s the point. Nothing is worth preserving. Our civilization is doomed. Everything is flying apart, and nothing remains to keep us together. Family means nothing. Religion means nothing. Taxidermy means nothing. Personally, I can’t wait for the walls to come tumbling down around our ears. We thoroughly deserve it. A slow and steady decline towards a permanent extinction event once we’ve eradicated the planet of every other living creature. We are slowly building ourselves a zoo populated entirely by the human race and when you try and speak out about it…

Hi – yes, the tea, completely forgot all about it! No-no, I’ll finish this later…it’s fine.

 

‘STOP’ button pressed on tape recorder.