I have been fortunate over the years to have taken a handful of turkeys. One issue that I encountered was how to properly display a trophy turkey.
Initially, I had the tail fans, beards, and spurs of my first Jake and then first longbeard mounted on wall plaques. These are beautiful mounts that remind me daily of those hunts; however, they do take up a large amount of wall space. Nowadays, I keep the beard and spurs for display/memory; clean, borax, and epoxy tail fan to use on decoys; and keep the breast, legs, and saddle meat from the bird for some spectacular meals.
I came up with this way to display the beard and spurs to be able to proudly display the trophy of each bird individually, which allows me to be able to recall each hunt and maximize wall space. The tools I use for these displays are typically on hand in any household and include a hacksaw, knife, fine-grit sandpaper, epoxy/glue/or silicon, q-tips, borax or some type of powdered cleaning detergent, painters tape, 6” of small-diameter string, and a cap full of rubbing alcohol. Below are a few basic steps:
- It is not necessary to cut the beard off a turkey. Simply grab at the base of the beard where it meets the skin, apply gradual force, and the beard will come off cleanly in one piece without any additional skin/meat. If the beard has any blood it in, take the time to gently wash it with warm water and comb out the blood/broken beard hairs. Dry the beard and set aside. If the beard is in good condition without blood dried in it, the washing step is not necessary.
- Then take a hacksaw and cut 3/4” below the spur, and then cut 3/4” above the spur to remove it from the leg.
- Take a q-tip and push out the bone marrow, I take soak a q-tip in rubbing alcohol to clean out the interior of the bone and then 2 dry q-tips.
- Using a boning knife, remove the scales, tendons, and flesh from the bone around the spur. Be careful of cutting the spur. Once the bone is exposed, let the spurs dry overnight.
- After the spurs have dried, take fine-grit sandpaper and remove anything left on the bone.
- I always take the shotgun shell used to shoot the turkey with me out of the woods. I remove the primer and the plastic hull in preparation for mounting the beard and spurs.
- Cut 6” of the small-diameter line (in my case it was decoy string).
- Run the line through the bone of the spurs, then put the tag ends through the top of the shotgun shell brass, and finally tie a knot that will keep the line from siding out the primer hole and block any epoxy from leaking out.
- I have used quick-set epoxy, silicon, and glue to this next step so whatever is available will typically work just fine. Mix the epoxy and fill the shotgun shell brass 3/4 of the way up. Slowly place the base of the beard into the epoxy. Once it is in the correct position that I want it to dry in, I tape the beard to the wall on my workbench to hold it in place while it dries.
- Once dried, I use a sharpie to fill out the shotgun shell brass with the details of the hunt such as location, date, the weight of the bird, etc.
As a waterfowl hunter, I have a call board that holds my waterfowl lanyards, backup calls, retired calls, waterfowl bands, and other keepsakes. I screwed small brass hooks into the bottom of the board and hang the finished spur, beard, and shotgun shell brass products on the hook for display.
So the next time you are successful in the turkey woods, give this technique a try. It also looks great hanging from a rearview mirror!