I have compiled here for you the basic guidelines of the taxidermy services I can provide for you, my definition of "ethical rogue" taxidermy as it applies my work, and some options you may have now that you find yourself with something very beautiful, but very dead.
1. How should I prep my specimen for Taxidermy?
The pinnacle of the taxidermy science is to suspend the activity of all microorganisms and bacteria before they can damage the hide of the animal and therefore affect the mounting process. Long lasting and beautiful mounts are the result of halting this bacterial process indefinitely. Animals that are to be mounted must be ideally: tucked in, wrapped in plastic bags, and frozen as soon as is possible after death, within minutes or hours in many cases. If any active fly larvae or beetles are present on the animal, or the animal is emitting a strong or putrid smell, then the animal is too far deteriorated and will not be mountable. If those things are not present and you are still unsure whether or not your specimen can be mounted, it is better to error on the side of speed and freeze the animal before calling a taxidermist. To ensure the best possible outcome of your project it is advantageous to wipe any dirt, debris, blood (if possible) or fecal material from the animals body. Fold wings, arms, or legs gently and wrap the animal in several plastic grocery or air tight bags. Place the animal towards the very back/bottom of the home or chest freezer until you arrange the delivery of the animal. This will freeze the carcass solid and aid in the quality of preservation later. Refrigeration is not sufficient to stop all bacterial growth!
2. Shipping your Specimen
If you are in the United States, then it is possible to have your animal shipped to my studio in adequate time providing your specimen is A. Frozen Solid, and B. Shipped in an insulated container with some Dry Ice. Dry ice is extremely inexpensive, will keep freezing temperatures for extended amounts of time, and is easily found by the pound in many chain grocery stores. Wear gloves if handling the dry ice and pack the ice loosely around the wrapped specimen. With 10 years of shipping experience I can ensure safe return shipping and attention to individual state guidelines. Generally speaking, it is not safe to ship internationally with most animal parts (preserved or not) so I do not recommend this to my clients at any time. Local drop off is ideal.
3. Production Time
The length of time your project may take varies widely depending of a multitude of factors. Because I tend to accept more unique and downright bizarre mounting assignments, there can be many timelines for both the taxidermy process and any sculptural additions or functions. I will provide personal quotes for interested clients with accurate dates and expectations directly. Most of my taxidermy projects will be completed in 4-8 weeks once the owner agreement is signed and the initial deposit is paid.
4. What is "Ethical Rogue Taxidermy"?
Excellent. Question. I understand this term causes much discussion, rightly so, and while one descriptor has some flexibility to it the other does not. The term "Rogue Taxidermists" is a specific, trademarked, group of artists using traditional taxidermy techniques in a very non traditional kind of way. The Minnesota Associations of Rogue Taxidermists (M.A.R.T) was the foundation of the alt taxidermy art movement and is responsible with associating that work with an inherent respect and strict non-exploitative approach to the craft. I am member of this artist collective and uphold the conduct in the oath I took upon initiation. Following this pledge are my personal ethics that state that "I will never take or destroy any life for the purposes of my art in any way, neither through ignorance or neglect, nor accident or exploitation". I believe there is abundant opportunity to "scavenge" the leavings of the dead while still showing reverence for their lives and respect for their deaths.
5. What can I have Mounted?
I can provide my taxidermy services for most exotic (non-native) and domesticated animals. This includes expired livestock, agricultural "die-off", and most varieties of perished pets* and captive bred animal specimens. *Cats and Dogs can be legally mounted by a licensed taxidermist, however the reselling of these skins, mounts, bones, etc are strictly prohibited under federal law (read more HERE).
Regarding all native species; In Michigan there is Michigan Year-Round No Limit Hunting standard on the following animals: Opossum, Porcupine, Weasel, Red Squirrel, Skunk, Ground Squirrel, Woodchuck, Feral Swine, Feral Pigeons, Starlings, and House Sparrows.
For any animals not on this list, please visit the Michigan DNR's website to see if you need a licence or are within the legal season of the animal you want mounted HERE (for small/large game) and HERE for all waterfowl/birds. Information of the list of birds protected under the Federal Migratory Bird act can be found HERE.
6. What can we do with my Mount? Can you do Traditional Styles too?
Traditional mounting styles, non traditional mounting styles, abstract and experimental styles, full of LED lights, with clothing, as art objects and even in costume or ritual regalia are all possibilities for your mount. Contact me directly to discuss your options specifically.