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By Dan Beard

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To the practical naturalist a knowledge of taxidermy is not only an interesting accomplishment from which to derive amusement, but is almost an absolute necessity, an indispensable adjunct to his profession.  Probably there is no study the pursuit of which affords such opportunities for physical exercise and real healthy enjoyment as that of natural history.  It is a study that, by broadening the horizon of thought, enlarges the capacity for pleasure.

To the pride of the sportsman in exhibiting the results of his skill and success, the naturalist adds the intelligent pleasure of acquiring a more complete knowledge of the life and habits, nature and anatomy of his trophies, as well as the ability to detect at a glance any unknown genus or rare variety he may capture; and here the practical knowledge of taxidermy enables him to properly preserve the other wise perishable specimen.

I have purposely avoided advising the use of expensive material or tools.   Where it was possible, I have not suggested the use of poisonous preservatives, but have given the most simple and safe methods of mounting specimens for the cabinet or for decorations.

Do not suppose that after reading the following directions you can sit down and, without any previous experience, set up a bird as neatly and as perfectly as one of those you see in the museums or show windows.  On the contrary, you must expect to make one or two dismal failures, but each failure will teach you what to avoid in the next attempt.

Let us suppose an owl has been lowering around suspiciously near the pigeon house or chicken coop, and that you have shot the rascal.  Do out throw him away.  What a splendid ornament he will make for the library!  How appropriate that wise old face of his will be peering over the top of the bookcase! (Fig. 147).  He must be skinned and stuffed!  

With a damp sponge carefully remove any bloodstains there may be on his plumage.  Plug up the mouth and nostrils with cotton; also insert cotton in all the shot holes, to prevent any more blood oozing out and soiling the feathers.  You may then lay him aside in some cool place until you are ready to begin the operation of skinning and stuffing the owl.

Measure the length of the bird, following the curves of the form, from root of tail to top of head, and its girth about the body; make a note of these figures.


American Boy's Handy Book






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.