As I sit here, an inexperienced newbie when it comes to taxidermy, I can't help but feel amazed. I carefully make each stitch, one-by-one, into the hide of a once-living fox. With each and every stitch, after carefully clearing the fur out of the way, I can't help but to feel proud.
But there's more than that. There's more than just the simple pride in my newly-started work. There's the subject itself. This magnificent creature, still beautiful in its death. As I work along its leg, I can't help but be in awe as its original form becomes somewhat revealed. I bend its wrist, experience from photos telling me where it is. Even without any bones I can still see how this fox once moved, and it is wonderful to be able to know and witness such a thing.
With each stitch I move along further now. The hairs become longer, the fur becomes harder for me to see past, the coat grows thicker. Before I knew that the leg hair was shorter than that on the body. But being forced to work up-close like this to accomplish my goal of my first soft-mount, I see it so much more. I feel the bump as I pass the dew claw, I pass another bump that I can only assume is a paw pad I previously didn't know existed on foxes. I see speckles of different colored hairs, some longer than others now, and see the different shades of the undercoat as I push the fur back to secure my stitch.
When one wants to have an intimate knowledge of a wild animal they study pictures, or watch the animal in zoos and sanctuaries. If they're lucky, they get to interact with the animal, either through someone owning it as a pet, breeder, or some other interactive experience. Yet while working on one leg, nay, half a leg alone, I have already learned and gotten to see so much.
Why is it that so many overlook the learning possibilities when it comes to taxidermy? Their views become clouded, as images of death and torture obstruct their eyes. The feelings of sorrow, hatred, confusion, and pity seize their hearts. Death is all they imagine, twisted by human ideas rather than the natural cycle nature has assigned it as.
Taxidermy isn't for everyone. But for those who do appreciate it, they can learn, possibly more than people who study animals in any other form. Taxidermists, whether well-seasoned or someone trying it out for the first time, have to learn the animal inside and out. They see the creature they work on up close and personal. While taxidermy may not be glorious to all, no one can argue how much one learns from it.