Mounting Your Own Turkey Tail, Beard, and Spurs

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Published on: Apr. 15, 2013

of most grocery stores) to the fleshy part of the beard. Then pour some borax into a small container and place the skin of the beard in it overnight.

The Tail

The next step is to remove the tail. Hold the fan closed. Feel for the triangle-shaped base beneath the skin that connects the tail feathers to the body. Cut in front of this to separate the tail from the rest of the turkey. Err on the side of caution. It is better to leave too much skin on than not enough. Cutting extra off later is easy, gluing feathers back in is time consuming.

Lay the removed tail section on a hard, flat surface. With the edge of a knife, scrape any meat from the base of the quills without removing the connective tissue between them. When all the excess is removed, apply generous amounts of borax to the entire base. Rub it vigorously into every nook and cranny to increase the longevity of the mount and prevent rot and insects.

Now the tail must be held in shape to dry. Spread the fan out to a full strut so that the bottom feathers are parallel, or you might prefer a half strut. Whatever position you choose will be permanent, as moving them after they are dry is not possible. Place the fan onto a large sheet of cardboard and put a small pin, nail, or staple in front of each bottom feather to secure it. Carefully arrange and smooth out each tail feather. Cover the tail with another piece of cardboard and tape the two pieces together. Put in a location where it will not be disturbed. Drying should be complete in about seven days.

The Spurs

Once the more fragile beard and tail are taken care of, the spurs can be removed from the bird. Start by removing the leg at the knee joint to make it easier to work with. Then, cut through the leg with a hacksaw on each side of the spur, making the base as wide as you prefer. This will leave the spur attached to a hollow section of the leg bone. Remove the skin and any fleshy material from the outside and inside of the bone. The spur can be coated with polyurethane for a shinier finish or left natural. Run a string or thin strap of leather through the hollow bones.

Displaying Your Work

After the tail’s drying period, remove it from the cardboard and the beard from the container of borax. Brush off any excess preservative. If you are mounting them in a wooden display panel (available at sporting goods stores), simply slide the fan into the slot on the panel. Most of them will also have a hole on the bottom for the beard. Coat the end of the beard with epoxy or hot glue and insert it into the hole in the panel.

There are many other ways to display the tail, beard, and spurs and that is the beauty of mounting your own. Whatever design you choose, each time you pass by that natural work of art hanging on the den wall, you will not only be reminded of the hunt, but also of the joy you had in preserving the memory.

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