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
Photo Albums
Advanced Habitat
Commercial Tanning

Montana School of Taxidermy and Tanning

About Your Instructors

Jeff Welch grew up in Arkansas in the fifties and sixties in a family that planned their entire lives around hunting and fishing. He attended Arkansas Tech University on a football scholarship and four years later received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry and a commission in the United States Army. After a brief tryout for the Washington Redskins and a three year tour in the United States Army, Jeff ended up in graduate school at Washington State University pursuing a masters degree in Forestry.

In 1975 Jeff changed directions in his career pursuit and went to work for an old established taxidermy studio in Lewiston, Idaho as an apprentice taxidermist. Two years later he moved to Helena, Montana and started his own business, Trails West Taxidermy.

That business grew to be one of the largest studios in the state. Jeff's wife of many years Jody, helped to operate the business along with several employees for 26 years. Trails West Taxidermy is now owned and operated by one of Jeff's former students, Ian Cassidy, and is continuing on a busy and successful business.

In 1988 Jeff started the Montana School of Taxidermy and Tanning, over eight hundred students, and 34 years later, he actively stays in touch with many of his past graduates. Jeff's true passion is teaching taxidermy and mule deer hunting throughout the west.

Jeff has successfully trained hundreds of taxidermists throughout the U.S., including far away places like South Africa, Namibia, Japan, Denmark, Canada, England, Australia, Spain, New Zealand, Argentina, and Russia. He has also trained several successful Tanneries throughout the U.S. and Africa.

Currently the Montana School of Taxidermy is the oldest Taxidermy program in the United States and offers the only one month commercial tanning class in the U.S.

School Philosophy

Our Philosophy

The philosophy of the Montana School of Taxidermy is to teach solid basic taxidermy and not generalities. We begin by teaching grass root taxidermy: proper game care, tanning, sculpting, form making, form alterations, advanced habitat building and several different mounting procedures which are used on fish, birds, and big game.

Understanding a broader spectrum of basic taxidermy is essential to the commercial taxidermist to overcome high overhead caused by the high prices of forms, supplies, and commercial tanning. Simply put, we intend to teach you how to become more independent, rather than more dependent, on supply houses and tanneries.

Students interested in enrollment should call or write for more detailed information on our course. You might be surprised to learn we don't have email -- but we're too busy teaching taxidermy to do justice to you answering email. If you call us, we'll be glad to give you the personal attention you deserve.

School Geography

You can have fun while learning!
Each class is taken on a fishing trip


The Montana School of Taxidermy is housed in a new 3,800 square foot building. The facility consists of a walk-in freezer, a salting and curing room, a classroom with eight individual work booths, a lecture area, office, bathroom, and a large display room.  Part of the building is occupied by a commercial taxidermy studio and tannery called Trails West Taxidermy -- fourty years in business!

Helena is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The elevation varies from 4,000 feet in downtown Helena to over 9,000 feet in the surrounding mountains.   The Helena area is rated second to none for trout fishing. Helena is literally surrounded by "blue ribbon" trout streams and rivers teaming with rainbow, cutthroat, German brown and brook trout. There are three Congressionally approved wilderness areas and other numerous proposed wilderness areas within forty miles of Helena. Elk, mule deer, whitetails deer, black bear, bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain goat, moose, cougar, and even an occasional grizzly bear is found in the area.

Students are encouraged to bring their fishing and backpacking equipment to enjoy days off and the two "specimen collecting" fishing trips!

ADVANTAGES (Support after you leave)

  1. The Montana School of Taxidermy purchases hundreds of hides, capes, life-size skins, antlers and horns of all types, as well as makes forms that can be purchased by graduates at a discount each year. We are but a phone call away from any problems you may encounter or items you may want to purchase.

  2. Most complete tanning course in the country. After graduation, students will save thousands of dollars in tanning costs yearly.

  3. Sculpting and form making: Graduates will have the knowledge to make their own forms to reduce overhead.

  4. Advanced Habitat Class. The most complete habitat class ever offered, taught by Jeff Welch. A five day, eight hour per day class that covers A-Z. See the Advanced Habitat section.

  5. Business planning. A no-nonsense approach to establishing a new business.


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