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hugonian1

Advice On Saving Your Turkey's Trophy Parts

23 posts in this topic

I will be hunting season B next week and hope to take my first Tom. Scouting has my confidence level high as there has been a lot of activity.

In the event I do succeed what are the do's and don't's when it comes to removing and preserving the beard, spurs, and fan?

I have seen some great ideas for displaying the trophy parts.

Any advice would be helpful to the novice's like me out there.

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Beard: Pull on it and it will protrude some out of the skin. Cut around this protrusion and then under the protrusion and the paintbrush will come out in one piece

Spurs: I use a hacksaw to cut the leg. Then I unwrap the scaly skin around the bone and poke out the bone marrow.

Fan: All the fan/tail feathers are located just above the cloaca. Cut generously around this fatty connection and it will come right off.

Keep some 40 Mule Borax Laundry Detergent around. I use a mix of 1:1 borax detergent and good old morton's table salt.

Flesh everything out...the beard, the spurs, and especially the fan. The feather base of the fan is going to have a bunch of fat and skin tissue that needs to be removed. Once its removed, salt it down with your solution, rub it into the flesh that is left, and then Spread the fan out, pin it down on some cardboard with heavy duty pins, and let it dry for 5-7 days.

Find or make your own display board with a holder for the beard and spurs, or do something more to your own tastes. One friend of mine keeps all his beards in the spent shell casings, one guy has a bunch of spurs on a necklace, another has all of his turkey trophy accoutrements on the same display boards on a wall.

I'm hoping to do a photo tutorial with any luck this spring.

Good luck next week hugonian. If you've done your homework and our good weather holds up, perhaps you'll be making the photo tutorial.

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When I hunt out of state, I always bring an empty pop/beer case flattened out. Slide the folded fan into the case and it will travel nicely. I usually put it in the freezer that way til I have time to work it.

Also, when you take off the fan, skin up the back a few inches. Your display will be more colorful by preserving more of the lower feathers.

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Good info guys.

Do you just cut the spurs flush with the leg?

No, cut through the leg itself on both sides of the spur.

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with fan that I just got off my bird I tried what my taxidermist told me and that was to seperate all the feathers completely and one this is done go back and glue them into place I used superglue and after looking at pics of my bird I slowly glued and put all the feathers back in place. alot of work but it looks very nice.

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Timely article from Bill Marshel

A turkey hunt's reward:Here's a more affordable way to preserve your turkey hunt memories.

BRAINERD, MINN. - If you were fortunate enough to draw a turkey hunting permit for the first of eight 2009 Minnesota turkey hunting seasons that began last Wednesday -- or if you hunted in another state -- perhaps you have already lured a romantic tom turkey to within gun or bow range.

If so, and your marksmanship was true, congratulations. But now what?

Maybe your financial adviser is wiser than mine and you've lost only one-third of your precious life savings compared to my one-half, in which case perhaps your deceased turkey took a postmortem trip to the taxidermist via a hearse shaped like a GMC pickup. Keep in mind you'll need roughly 1 cubic yard of space to display that beautiful full-sized turkey mount.

Instead, perhaps your freezer holds the bird's carcass awaiting its chance to occupy the Weber. Hopefully in a separate container lie other turkey parts, such as a tail, beard and legs, items you can use to construct a cheap and simple -- but attractive -- display that not only honors your bird but also takes up little room in your home.

Last spring, I built just such a display using the tail and beard from a tom turkey I bagged with my bow. You can do the same.

First, carefully remove the tail from your turkey. Grasp the triangle-shaped knob at the base of the tail and, using a knife, remove it by cutting it as close to the body as possible. Then scrape the meat and fat from the base of the tail. Remove as much as possible, but be careful not to cut the connective tissue between the tail feathers.

Next, rub both sides of the tail base with a 50-50 mixture of 20 Mule Team Borax and salt. Now spread the tail on a large piece of cardboard and, using pins, create a nice even fan. Once the tail is pinned into place, rub more salt and borax into the base. Allow the tail to dry for a few days, then scrape away the loose salt and borax and add more. Once again, allow the tail to dry for a few more days.

This time, do a more thorough job of scraping the tail free of salt and borax. Cover the base of the tail using glue. Epoxy works best, but you can also use boot repair glue, such as Shoe Goo. Once the glue has set, your turkey tail fan should be firm and insect-free for many years.

The turkey's beard can be treated much like the tail. Sever it close to the body, rub it with the salt and borax and set it aside to dry. The glue covering is optional.

Now you must come up with a plan to hide the ugly glue-covered base of the tail. I choose to order an arrowhead-shaped plaque, since I bagged my turkey with my bow. I bought the plaque from Van Dyke's Taxidermy. Van Dyke's sells plaques in countless shapes and sizes. After you have obtained your plaque, glue it to the tail using epoxy or Shoe Goo.

I ordered a plaque large enough to accommodate a photo of me and my turkey. To preserve the photo, I covered it with a piece of glass held in place by black paper corners. I think the photograph should be taken at the time of the kill.

I added the turkey's beard to the plaque by drilling a small hole at the proper angle, and then I glued the beard in place. Finally I used a colorful turkey feather to cover the hole visible around the base of the beard. I also added the arrow I used to kill the turkey to the plaque.

Keep in mind you don't need to follow my lead. Add whatever you want to your display -- items such as the legs and spurs, or even a sampling of colorful feathers. Use your imagination.

That's it. A simple but attractive wall display that you can be proud of. Total cost? Under $25.

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that borax method works very well. YOu can also preserve the feet by affixing them in an upright manner (like they would be if the bird was standing. No borax needed, no smell, and they freeze in place. Pretty cool!

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Hugo,

If you grip the beard firmly at it's base and give a firm pull it'll come out nice and clean. I've done it many many times.

WD

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Keep your feathers dry.

Sometimes on an out of town trip, people will ice down a bird in a cooler for a day or two so they can bring the whole bird (field dressed) home to show certain people.

If the feathers lay in that ice water for awhile, they loose the oils in them and its hard to make them look nice again for whatever display you make.

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I have done a lot of fans over the years. My latest method is to cut the tail off the bird and disassemble it, clean it and re-assemble it. I remove all flesh and fat from each feather lay them out in a full fan and glue them back together. No need for preservatives and you can pose the feathers exactly the way the should be without waiting weeks for the tail to dry. The fan will be ready to hang on the wall in a couple of hours.

I cut the spurs off the legs using a coping saw. I drill a small hole in the cut base and glue a small wire into the spur. I then drill a small hole in the display board and glue the spurs on the board. I cut the beard off. Rub borax into the fleshy end and pin it hanging vertically on a board or wall to dry. When it's dry, drill a shallow hole in your display board and glue the beard in place. If there is interest, I will put together some how to instructions with some pictures.

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strug what kind of glue do you use? this what I did and I think that it is they way to go. I found that take a couple extra pics of the fan help when rebuilding it. after a coulpe of days I will set the base of the feathers in a bondo cast and then set them in a mount.

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Borax is at the grocery store with the laundry detergent.

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Yeah, saw the leg bone on both sides of the spur. About a 1/8" on each side. Clean out tendon, skin, marrow etc. Skin is tedious because of its reptile like toughness. The bone will dry and eventually whiten up nice. You will end up with a hollow bone on the spur that is perfect for threading a piece of leather. I have mine hanging on my rearview mirror. I will be working on my 7th bird this May. Once you have a set you look at everytime you hop in your truck, it really makes you want to fill it out! Before you know it, there will be 4 spurs and so on. I've gotten thumbs-up from other turkey addicts all times of the year. -Jim in Duluth MN

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Also, remember to cape as much as the back as you can. After breasting your bird out and removing tail fan, peel skin with feathers attached from the base where the tail was up to the the top of the back. You will have a nice piece that will really beef up your tail mount.

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All,

A fine way to complete the base of a fan is by using "Bondo" front and back. Make it very permanent and secure. There is no need in my opinion to disassemble the fan and reassenble it. Simply clean as much fat and muscle as possible then cure with 20 Mule team borax.

WD

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Gorilla glue. It sets up slow enough to have all the feathers adjusted the way you want them. I cut a small piece of screen, lay that on a plastic sandwich bag, lay out the primary tail feathers and drizzle the glue between the shafts. I layout the secondary feathers over the primary and glue those too. When it hardens I carefully flip the tail over, put another screen over the back and drizzle the glue through the screen. It doesn't take much because it expands. I then add the back strap feathers by plucking them off the skin and laying them over the secondaries securing each with a drop of gorilla glue. I layer them randomly. You can just snip off the lower shaft to get the lengths you need. I then strip the shafts at the bottom so I can easily glue it. It gives you a light weight tail locked in place that you can easily screw to a board without pushing feathers out of place. I've put tails together with just borax and later tried bondo but the gorilla glue gives me the best results.

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Thanks for all the great info guys.

I put it to use today as I took my first Tom.

He was not the biggest bird but I am tickled.

8.25" beard and 1 1/8" spurs.

The mystique of spring turkey hunting has a hold of me.

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Way to go on that first bird hugo! BTW, any spur over 1" is HUGE.

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Fortunate enough to take a nice tom on Thursday, I will fulfill my promise and do a short photo tutorial on saving your turkey's trophy parts. You will most likely want to save the spurs, beard, and fan for a nice attractive wall mount. I've also included some instructions for caping out your bird; this may or may not be helpful to you if you plan to take the bird to a taxidermist (Better ask someone that has done a full mount) or if you want to save the turkey skin. In my case, I'm saving the skin to add some realism to my turkey decoys in years to come. I plan to attach the skin for some movement in the breeze and the overall realism. It's like buying the "Turkey Skinz" that you see in the stores. Save your skins after a few years in which you connect and you'll be a more effective hunter down the road. One regret I have is in keeping the skins, I keep the wings attached. Since the wings are attached, I won't be able to show how to make a turkey wing bone call. Maybe some other year smile

To start, you will need borax and salt, I like a 50/50 mix.

1045929.jpg

Let's begin with the beard.

1045921.jpg

It should pull right out or you can cut the skin around it. Pretty simple.

Now use the cut from the beard to work a seam down the keel bone (center of the breast) to the cloaca.

1045922.jpg

Keep working it open.

1045923.jpg

Work your fingers under the skin along the legs and around to the back, and to the point where the wings insert.

1045924.jpg

Once at the wings, cut where they attach to the body. You will make a slice in the muscle tissue along the humerus (the largest wing bone) and try to remove some of the meat, later you will add the salt/borax mix to this spot to dry it out. With both wings intact with the skin, it will look like this:

1045925.jpg

Finish by working around the legs ( gave each one its own seam) until you get to the tail feathers. Here I prefer to cut the entire tail feather attachment out, including the tailbone. It will leave you with a nice wad of flesh that we will deal with later.

1045926.jpg

Now remove as much fat as possible; fat will soak up salt and borax and make the drying take longer, it could also spoil and deteriorate your display if it breaks down.

1045930.jpg

Give it a good dash of salt and then remove the excess. Check things a day later and add more salt if its been seeped up.

1045931.jpg

I have not included photos of the butchering; you now have a skinless bird so roasting will be more difficult. A better option might be to make soup or breast the bird out and remove the drumsticks.

Next you will get the spurs.

1045927.jpg

....continued in the next post!

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Saw around the spur attachments with a hack saw. You will need to peel off the sinew and scaly skin. You will be left with bone and spur. Work the marrow out with a straw or toothpick and then roll in the salt/borax solution.

Lastly is the fan. You need to do a good job spreading the fan and arranging the feathers immediate to it. Put the fan on a sheet of cardboard and use pins to arrange it as you want it. Once its dried it cannot be moved so do it right the first time!

1045932.jpg

Save the fan, spurs, beard, and whatever other additions you would like (I prefer the shell casing)

1045928.jpg

Congrats on a fine and handsome bird and enjoy your trophy turkey mount.

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