A Taxidermy Adventure (guest post)

Today’s guest post is by a friend from the Hoosier State – Alyse Small. Alyse happily welcomes a foray into the wildly unknown. Which is what it’s all about, folks!


This thing will kinda make sense, but I’ll explain why at the end.

So I found a bird in the yard of a local urgent care center. It took me approximately five full minutes of talking to my boyfriend to decide to go snatch this dead bird. I wanted it because it’s yellow and it’s a bird I’ve never seen before. It’s amazing and I freaked out the whole time I went to pick it up thinking someone was gonna come out and yell at me or call me crazy because I’m just hanging out at an urgent care clinic picking up dead birds. Anyway, I get it in my car, I get it home, and I call my mom to tell her about it. Then I send her a picture so she can Google what the hell it is. Turns out it’s a Western Meadowlark and it’s not even supposed to be native to Indiana. (Thanks global climate change.)

Look at it though. It’s glorious.

A very dead but GLORIOUS Western Meadowlark.

A very dead but GLORIOUS Western Meadowlark.

But then I have the realization that I’ve never actually preserved anything before, let alone an entire animal. So I start scouring the internet to try and find someone who can give me a little bit of instruction on how to keep this little dude always looking so beautiful. Luckily I did, and the very next day my buddy shows up with two canisters of iodized salt and a box of Borax. This little birdie is currently hanging out in a plastic baggie in my freezer so I can try and figure out how the hell you gut a bird without damaging the rest of the body. Hopefully, I’ll have this guy in a shadowbox on a lovely branch before the end of the month.

So this is no big deal. I have a dead bird I’m going to preserve for a project and to test my skills at small time taxidermy. BUT THEN. The next day I come home from work and my dad is gone, which is unusual for this time of year. Mom informs me that he’s out with his bff Jason doing coyote management on some family land. Also, no big deal. UNTIL. I get a text message from dad letting me know they got one and asking me if I wanted him to bring it home to me. I replied with an extremely enthusiastic yes, which Jason found hilarious. I get up the next morning, and we know we have to skin it out because it’s going to warm up and it’ll rot if we leave it outside and there’s no way in hell we’re getting a full size dog in the damn freezer. Neither of us had ever skinned out a coyote until now. I have never even touched any type of raw flesh (including things like hamburger) until now due to an anxiety issue.

So we get him all skinned out and get his head off of him. And now the hunt begins for a taxidermist who can help me make a headdress out of this beautiful creature. Right now everyone is booked solid with deer mounts from last season so I’m in a mad dash to find someone already, then my dad surprises me again saying that I should wait because he wants to go out a couple more times to see if he can get a better specimen and then I CAN TAN THE HIDE I HAVE RIGHT NOW ON MY OWN. I have literally zero experience with this crap, but I guess everything is a learning curve at some point. It’s looking more and more like I’m going to become a well-seasoned preservationist.

NOW, here’s how it kind of makes sense. I’m a wild Pagan, and as a Pagan I have a tendency to inadvertently collect oddities. I most recently received this raccoon skull in the mail from a friend in Texas. Just a few of my other curiosities include: a turkey pelvis, a juvenile deer jaw, puppy ribs, cat whiskers, a cat tooth, a jar of cicadas, and a collection of stones and minerals that would explode your brain.

The moral of this story is: when you start even a small adventure, be prepared for it to become a lot bigger than you ever expected.

Thanks for sharing this awesome post, Alyse! A totally unique way of owning it! 


Alyse Small

Alyse Small

Alyse is really weird 23 year old kid living in southern Indiana. She makes all types of art and sometimes She’s lucky enough to get paid for it. She has five cats and a house full of dead people. Wanna hear a crazy story? Hit her up on Facebook (Alyse Dawn Small) and tell her to create a website.  :D


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