Preparing a study skin is extremely basic. After skinning the animal, the fat is methodically scraped off the underside of the skin. The underside of the skin is rubbed with borax or cedar powder to help it dry faster. Then, the animal is stuffed with cotton and sewn.
For a smaller animal, such as a mouse, the process takes between two and three hours, but a larger cat or hare can take up to three days, Ms. Sutton said. The soft parts of the animal, which are not easy to preserve, such as the eyes, lips and tongues, are usually made of glass or plaster. This means that the filling will be seen through, so the taxidermist goes almost exclusively with a foam mold.
If a hunter is unable to take the deer to a taxidermist within days of killing it, then he needs to skin it himself. In the early days, the animals were gutted and tanned and then stuffed with straw and sawdust, before being sewn back together. An experienced hunter will be able to do it without problems, but a novice can end up destroying the skin and making it harder for the taxidermist. This is why you should no longer refer to an animal as a stuffed animal: taxidermists prefer the term mounted.
In fact, some of our old taxidermies may have been prepared by taxidermists who hadn't even seen a living example of the animal they were working on. The taxidermist spends the winter and early spring working hard to finish in time for the next fishing season. Tanning is the process of converting the skin, or leather, of an animal into usable preserved leather, and made taxidermy possible. Charles Darwin was another of the first taxidermists who sought to preserve his findings in the Galapagos Islands.
A study skin is a simplified version of taxidermy: after skinning the animal, it is stuffed and allowed to dry. The animals were literally gutted, their skins were tanned and then stuffed with cotton or straw and sewn back together for display.