to Make a Turkey Fan Mount
-- by Rob Ramsdale --
Fan Mount of a Rio/Eastern
If you want to save a
fan mount like the one shown, here are the basic steps
to follow. As with any taxidermy mount, the quality
you end up with depends on how well you take care
of the fan feathers. Take extra care in the field
and transporting the fan and your finished mount will
be that much better.
- Lay the turkey down on a bench
or table and starting about 6" or more from the
base of the tail, make a cut through the skin on
the back and begin skinning down to the base of
the tail. The reason I start about midway up the
back is you never know how many feathers you're
going to want for your eventual mount of the tail.
It is much better to start off with too much back
skin and remove them later than to find out you wish you
had more of the back feathers. Error on the safe
side and take a lot of back feathers to start.
- 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 some of the back skin still attached.
- Lay the tail fan off to the side
and finish dressing the bird.
- Once you have the bird cleaned,
go back to the fan and start by scraping all of
the flesh off the skin and then proceed to the tail.
- 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 brush 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 when you mount it.
- After the cleaning is complete,
you have the option of washing the fan 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 feathers around really
well and work any noticeable dirty or greasy spots
on the feathers between 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 fan 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 tail 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 feathers
"combed" back neatly by 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.
Another Fan Mount of a
Rio/Eastern Hybrid Turkey
- After the feathers are dry, rub
the 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.
- 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
- The fan should be check periodically
during its drying period of around 3 - 5 weeks.
You may need to add more borax during this time.
- Once it's dry, remove the pins
and shake off any excess borax. There are many commercial
kits out there with nice wood panels to mount your
turkey fan on. I prefer to mount my own using a
simple wood stand which I then cover in leather.
Good luck with this project.
I hope this will help you create a lasting memory
of your favorite turkey hunting adventure.