How to Mount a Turkey Fan and Beard
Hopefully the arrival of turkey season also means the arrival of a big ol’ tom in the back of your truck. After putting in the hard work to harvest a big gobbler, the best way to honor the bird and preserve memories for years to come is to mount it. To mount a turkey fan and beard, it’s easier than you might think, so give it a try yourself using these directions.
In the field, ensure you don’t ruffle the fan too much or get blood and dirt on it, and keep it as dry as possible. Then stop by your local grocery store and pick up some borax (typically in the laundry section).
When you get home from your hunt, start the mounting process with the beard. Pull out on the beard and use a knife to cut the base away from the breast, leaving enough skin to still secure the feathers. Apply a 50/50 mixture of borax and salt generously to the flesh and skin left on the base. Fill a small container with the borax/salt mixture and prop the base into this container to sit for the night. You’re on your way to mount a turkey fan and beard.
Now move onto the actual process to mount a turkey fan and beard. Start by folding the fan closed and use your knife to cut away the triangle-shaped base from the body. It’s alright to leave too much flesh and skin on at first, as it will be easier to remove more later than shave off too much right away. Keep the small feathers removed from this area for later use. Use your knife blade to scrape away as much meat and fat from the feather quills, skin, and bone as possible, but don’t remove the sinewy tissue that holds them together. Then apply the borax/salt mixture generously to all exposed surfaces to dry and preserve it. Don’t skimp on this, or you’ll end up with a smelly grease smudge running down your wall after you mount it!
Now that the turkey fan is prepared, you need to spread it fully open and let it dry that way. Lay the fan onto a piece of cardboard, and use small pins to hold the feathers in place. Don’t pin the quills themselves, but place the pin in front of the feathers to stop them from pulling back into a closed position. Make sure to correct any small misalignments now, because once the turkey fan dries, you won’t be able to fix it easily. When done, place another piece of cardboard over the fan, and tape them together. Let it dry for several days.
After drying, remove any excess borax and salt from the fan and beard, and patch any holes if necessary. Use the smaller feathers you removed during the fleshing process, and hot glue them in place around the base if it looks pretty bare in spots. If anything still looks wet, re-apply the borax/salt mixture and let it dry for another few days.
Now consider how you will display the fan and beard. You can simply hang them on the wall as is, or place them in a fancy mounting plaque/panel. You can also save and mount the feet/spurs or wings, and get as ornate as you like. There are several mounting kit options you can find as well to make the process even easier. Add a wood-burned turkey plaque or photo of you with that turkey and you’ll have preserved a great memory for years to come.