Mounting Your Own Turkey Tail, Beard, and Spurs

I scanned the dark timber, searching for the light-tipped tail feathers that I had seen only moments earlier. The taunting fan had last appeared at 60 yards, along with a thunderous gobble that left little doubt that this was a mature tom. Then it vanished.

I waited and watched, knowing he was in stealth mode, trying to decide if the hen decoy was to his liking. Then I caught movement out of the corner of my eye as he entered the clearing. He had made up his mind that this was the girl for him and was giving it all he had. Chest puffed out, tail feathers spread, beard dragging, spitting, and drumming. Despite the lack of reaction from the foam female, he wasn’t letting up.

He strutted his way down the end of my gun barrel, and I squeezed the trigger.

Field Care

Heading home, I knew the mounted tail, beard, and spurs would bring back memories of this hunt long after the turkey was consumed.

For the most part, taxidermy work should be left to the professionals. They are truly artists at what they do and require special equipment and processes. But mounting a turkey tail, beard, and spurs can be a quick, easy, and rewarding end to a hunt — and anybody can do it. You just need to follow a few steps and use one item available at your local grocery store.

The quality of a finished turkey mount begins in the field. Avoiding broken tail feathers is much easier than fixing them. A bird facing you in full strut looks like a bigger target, but this can be a lower-success shot and will likely result in damage to the fan and pellets in the meat. Wait for the bird to naturally drop his tail and stretch his neck, or cluck a few times to arouse his curiosity and aim for the spot where the neck skin stops and the feathers begin. Before leaving the field, gently smooth the tail feathers in place and wrap the bird in an orange bag or vest (both for safety and to prevent damage).

The Beard

Once home, the easiest part of the bird to preserve is the beard. Remove it by pulling on the beard and cutting the base where it attaches to the body, leaving enough skin attached to hold together. Liberally apply borax (available in the laundry section