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How to Make a Cape Mount

-- by Rob Ramsdale --

Cape Mount of a Rio Grande Turkey

If you want to save a cape mount like the one shown in the picture, here are the basic steps to follow.

  1. Hang the turkey by its head and begin skinning out the back of the turkey by starting high on its neck where the feathers begin. If you've ever plucked a turkey, you know that a turkey's feathers are laid out in tracts and not every inch of skin has feathers coming out of it. For a cape mount, you want to remove the tract of feathers that run in about a 3" wide strip down the turkey's back. You can see a part in the feathers if you look closely and once you start skinning down the back of the bird you can see it's a very thin strip of skin that contains all the feathers that cover the back and even down the sides of the turkey.

  2. Carefully skin the bird's back all of the way down to the tail and then cut down through the base of the tail to remove the tail with the back skin still attached.

  3. Lay the cape off to the side and finish dressing the bird.

  4. Once you have the bird cleaned, go back to the cape and start by scraping all of the flesh off the skin and then proceed to the tail.

  5. The tail fan takes some time to get clean. You want to remove all of the flesh and fat possible by cutting or scraping with a knife and even using a wire brish to get down between the feather quills. You also need to remove the piece of the backbone that is still attached to the tail. A pair of pliers will help you twist the tailbone out which will allow the tail fan to lie flat.

  6. After the cleaning is complete, you have the option of washing the cape if the feathers got dirty or were messed up on the tips. If you've ever shot a bird that rolled down a mountain or shot one in the rain you know that often the tail feathers are a ragged mess when you get to the bird. They can be fixed, as long as they aren't broken, by simply washing them. Start by dunking the cape, tail feathers and all, into a tub or sink of warm water that has Dawn or some other mild grease-cutter/cleanser mixed in with it. Swish the cape and feathers around really well and work any noticeable dirty or greasy spots on the cape with your fingers. It's amazing how much dirt the turkey feathers can be carrying and a good wash and clean water rinse will really make your feathers shine. After the cape is rinsed, you can use a hair dryer set on low to gradually dry and fluff the feathers. I don't own a hair dryer so I generally pin the cape up in front of a fan and just let it dry that way. It doesn't take long and I check it once in awhile and help get the feather "combed" back neatly but running the feathers through my finger tips. If you kept really good care of the feathers on your way in from the field, you can often skip this step.

  7. After the feathers are dry, rub the entire bare skin and tail section with borax (You can use 20 Mule Team Borax which is a laundry additive you can find at WalMart.) Don't skimp on the borax since it will help dry the skin and preserve it so the bugs won't attack it.

  8. Take the treated skin and lay it skin-side down on a board or stiff piece of corrugated cardboard. Work your way around the fan pinning the feathers into the position you want them to dry in. This is one place you can actually cover up a broken or missing tail feather by spacing the rest of the feathers out enough to cover the extra space.

  9. The cape should be check periodically during its drying period of around 3 - 5 weeks. You may need to add more borax during this time.

  10. Once it's dry, remove the pins and shake off any excess borax. If you like, you can cut a piece of wood or felt to further mount the cape on.

I hope this will help you create a lasting memory of your favorite turkey hunting adventure.



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