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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 3, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Thursday, October 3, 1974 THE LETHBRIOQE HERALD 9 Jimmy Lee likes that stuffy feeling By GARRY ALLISON Herald Sports Writer Almost everyone can stuff a turkey but how many people can stuff a pheasant or a partridge or a duck. Jimmy Lee may be able to stuff a turkey but his real talent lies in stuffing wild birds. He is a taxider- mist. Taxidermy is not his profession, but an en- joyable hobby that started accidentally back in the 1930s. "Jack and Nick Credico gave me a pheasant back in the late 30s and I decided to try and stuff it. I've been doing it ever he laughed. His teacher on the "how to's" of taxidermy was the unlikely format of Mechanic's Illustrated magazine. The first, and most basic rule of taxidermy, is to make sure your bird is in good shape. "Don't ring its Jim stated. it tears the skin and the blood will stain the feathers. Besides, the head and neck splinter and separate and it makes it extremely difficult to work with." Keep your bird cold. If it gets too hot the feathers become tacky and the bird will rot. "If you freeze it, use an average deepfreeze, making sure it is sealed and wrapped well. Do not let the temperature get too low or you'll ruin the delicate texture of the bird's skin and his feathers It will suffer frost bite literally." When he gets the bird, home to his basement workshop, the first thing is to make an incision in the bird's belly, after-he carefully clears a path for the knife through the bird's delicate feathers. Through this split, he pulls the carcass, carefully separating the body from the skin, exercising ex- treme care not to tear the skin. The leg bones and skull are left in the bird. He then takes the eyeball out, and with a tiny spoon scrapes out the brain cavi- ty and other tiny pockets of tissue. "You must then treat the skin inside with a preser- vative. I use borax now, but in the old days I used to use arsenic. You have to sign your life away to get that much arsenic he laughed. The stuffing of wood shavings is packed inside the cavity, supported by a wire framework. When the body is completed, the wing wires and the legs are attended to. The leg wire goes through the marrow of the leg bone and out the bottom where it fastens securely to the base. Small amounts of plaster are placed in the tail sec- tion, the brain cavity and leg area to Till up the space vacated bv tissue. "Then we sew up the in- cision with regular he said. But all is .not complete. The eye socket is now filled with plaster and the glass eyes are placed in the wet plaster. The quality of the eyes vary, but the average price range is 75 cents to The next step is the most critical of all. It is the shaping of the bird into a natural, life-like stance. This finishing step takes study and practice to perfect. The taxidermist must know the birds or animals he works on. He must know what his subjects look like in life, as the tufts of feathers that stand up naturally lie flat on the dead bird. The aligning and setting of the feathers, the final mounting on the stand, and any last minute primping completes your two- evening project. "I save all the Mark Trail comics out of The he smiled, "You'd be surprised' how many ideas I get for posing the birds or animals from this strip." See picture story page 6 "Taxidermy is like photography in a way, only it's more realistic. You are preserving an image in a life-like form." He has worked on many types of from a peacock with a five-foot trail span to crows, magpies and even a bird of paradise. "The pheasant is the ideal bird to work he said. "You can get your fingers inside and manipulate your knife without too much trouble. I've done hundreds of pheasants over the years." It is interesting to note that the size of a small pheasant's body and a large one-are nearly the same. "The feathers make the size of the bird, the bodies are very similar he said. The tools needed are very basic a couple of sharp knives, razor blades, wire cutters, pliers and a collection of stuffing and glass eyes. Taxidermy is an interesting art and can be used as an effective teaching aid in schools or as displays from such varied locations as super- markets to the LCC food fair. As a hobby it is a pleasurable one ask Jimmy Lee, he's been at it over 40 years. Pheasant release now underway Between and pheasants will be released in Alberta this year, says a man who raises them for the provincial government. Jerry Pelchat, super- visor of the Alberta wildlife research centre at Brooks, says between and will be released in the Lethbridge area, 500 before the season opens. The rest will be released near Edmonton. The pheasant season will open Oct. 11 for residents and Oct. 18 for non residents, and will end Nov. 23. No females may be shot. The bag limit is three pheasants a day. The pheasants are much easier to breed in captivity than native birds, said Mr. Pelchat, but do have somewhat less chance of surviving than pheasants that grew up wild. If they are "extremely 30 per cent to 50 per cent might survive the winter, he said. The pheasants released are evenly divided between males and females. They are mostly ringnecks, but also include Mongolian, Formosan, melanistic mu- tant and English blackneck varieties. Harry Vriend, a habitat biologist working on the pheasant habitat program, says habitat manipulation is the main method being used to raise the province's pheasant population. NOW OPEN RICK KUCHERAN is proud to announce the opening of PRECISION GUNS SPORTS LTD. 312 13 St. N. 1 BLOCKS NORTH OF SIMPSON SEARS Phone 327-7595 RICK KUCHERAN Specializing In Sporting Rifles Hand Guns Center Fire Rimfire Target Rifles Trap Skeet Guns Black Powder Rifles Varmint Rifles And All Related Accessories RELOADING EQUIPMENT Including All Types of Bullets, Brass, Powder Primes, Lightweight Back Packing Gear Camping Equipment, Spring Fishing Tackle PRECISION GUNS and Sports Ltd. 312 -13th St. N. Phone 327-759! 1% BLOCKS NORTH OF SIMPSON SEARS ;