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.
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
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.