Montana School of Taxidermy and Tanning 3280 Green Meadow Drive, Helena, MT 59601 - (406) 443-0022
(406) 443-0022
School Philosophy
Class Schedule
Mounting Requirements
Refund Policies
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Advanced Habitat
Commercial Tanning

Montana School of Taxidermy and Tanning

Class Schedule & Course Description

CLASS SCHEDULE, 2019 (All Classes Open)

Winter 2019 Full Course January 3 - March 1
  Big Game January 3 - 25
  Birds January 28 - February 6
  Fish February 7 - 22
  Advanced Habitat February 25 - March 1
Tanning Class 2019 Tanning Class
March 5 - 27


3 weeks Big Game Course - Game prep (skinning, fleshing, curing, and tanning), form making (making death mask, sculpting, casting fiberglass molds and pouring uafoam forms), mounting, finish work, and collecting references. Most students will complete four shoulder mounts.
9 days Bird Course - Skinning, body making, mounting, displaying and finishing. Use of artificial bodies and heads.
2-1/2 weeks Fish Course - Skinning, scraping, pattern making, body making, mounting, finish work, airbrush techniques and displaying. One fiberglass reproduction fish is required.
  Business course - Part-time versus full-time taxidermy, location, setting prices, overhead, advertising (displays, newspaper ads, magazine ads, telephone ads, and radio and television advertising). Taking in work, making work agreements and licensing your business in accordance with state and federal regulations.  This portion of the course is taught throughout the course rather than one solid block.
1 week

Advanced Habitat Class. All aspects of habitat construction will be covered including making articifical rocks from molds, hand-carving large artificial rocks, water features, snow and ice, use of natural references and artificial plants, building artificial limbs and trees, gathering habitat materials, collecting references and much more. Habitat scenes will be developed and demonstrated on several life-size mounts. "Optional Class."

TOTAL HOURS: Approximately 408 hours


  1. Measuring & sizing big game heads.
  2. Making death masks (plaster/clay method)
  3. Proper way to cape heads
  4. Preparing capes (splitting lips, eyes, nose, turning ears & fleshing).
  5. Salting capes
  6. Saltroom order (proper way to salt and store capes for curing).
  7. Tanning (teaching total procedures using several tanning formulas & methods). Students will be required to tan everything they mount.
    a. Rehydrating
    b. Bating
    c. Washing
    d. Shaving (using several brands of rotary knives)
    e. Degreasing
    f. Pickling
    g. Tanning (using TX-77, alum, and tan TX-2001)
    h. Oiling skins
    i. Drying
    j. Staking.
    k. Drumming (using several types of mixes and deodorizers).
    l. Finishing skins.
  8. Mold making (sculpting a deer head using references and a death mask, demonstrated). Students will actually make the fiberglass mold and pour form upon completion.
  9. Proper way to settle antlers on forms, plus how to use the new shed systems!
  10. Preparing forms for mounting (cutting lips, contouring, dewaxing and modeling nose).
  11. Practice setting eyes (students are required to set eyes at the beginning of each day for several days until they become proficient).
  12. Final prep of tanned capes (sewing/thinning).
  13. Setting ears (plastic vs. bonded method).
  14. Prefitting capes on forms (includes teaching students how to alter forms in ever way to fit capes).
  15. Mounting (using all the best commercial methods), carding, grooming, putting & Finishing ( we paint all heads using an Aztek double action airbrush with polytranspar and wildlife colors paints).
  16. Proper way to hang & display heads.
  17. Altering life-size forms.
  18. Basic habitat building (basic rock making and basic snow and ice scenes, using several methods & materials, i.e. snow flocking scene, water scene, etc.).
  19. Base building (framing).
  20. Crating heads for shipping.
  21. Ruging (latest commercial methods used).
  22. Building stretching tables.
  23. How to build tanning equipment needed to operate your own tannery, (staking machine, tumblers, wet wheels, hide sanders).
  24. Proper way to set up your shaver.
  25. Business course is now taught throughout the course (shop contracts, shop layout, advertising, insurance, taxes, determining shop overhead, pricing, phone presentation, determining tools & supplies needed, shop location (zoning), determining shop size, employing personnel and workers comp.
  26. Bird mounting.
    a. Wrapped method vs. foam bodies. Use of artificial heads.
    b. Washing, degreasing & tanning vs. Boraxing.
    c. Proper tumbling.
    d. Displaying (includes habitat building).
    e. Finishing & painting.
  27. Fish mounting.
    a. Carving fish bodies vs. pouring fish bodies
    b. Displaying (includes habitat building).
    e. Repairing damaged skins.
    d. Artificial reproduction vs. skin mounts.
    e. Painting (all fish are painted using Aztek double action airbrushes with polytranspar water based paints).
  28. Teaching students how to score for Boone & Crockett
  29. Catalog inventory (students will order and receive approximately 15 supply catalogs and organize to buy best forms & supplies available).
  30. Students are required to pour at least one foam form.
  31. Advanced Habitat Class - Conducted during the final (eighth) week of the Commercial Taxidermy Class).


  1. To teach the basic taxidermy skills necessary to become proficient at commercial taxidermy, tanning, and habitat.

  2. To allow the student to develop these skills through mounting, tanning, mold making, and basic habitat planning.

  3. To allow the student time to proceed at his own pace with close personal supervision.

  4. To expose student to necessary business skills and procedures vital to a successful commercial taxidermy operation.


Monday - Friday and occasional Saturdays

  • 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

The school is open to students Monday and Tuesday nights from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.


Students can take all or any portions of the course at anytime. Most students take the full course, but part-time students are welcome. Partial classes are priced higher to encourage full course enrollment.


Big Game Course 3 Weeks $2,600
Bird Course 9 Days $900
Fish Course 2 Weeks $1,300
Advanced Habitat Course 5 days $800
Tanning Course (if taken separately) 3 Weeks $3,000


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