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How to Make a Turkey Fan Mount

-- by Rob Ramsdale --

Fan Mount of a Rio/Eastern Hybrid Turkey

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.

  1. 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.

  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 some of the back skin still attached.

  3. Lay the tail fan off to the side and finish dressing the bird.

  4. 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.

  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 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  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 fan 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. 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.

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