If you harvested a nice bird this turkey season and would like to both honor the memory of such a fine creature as well as immortalize a great day in the woods long after your bird has been eaten, then doing a tail fan display mount such as this a great way to do so. Now there are dozens of different tail fan mount display kits on the market these days from many different manufacturers, but I’ve always especially liked the ones that look more like the actual bird instead of just the tail feathers. I’ve done several mounts with a kit you can get from Van Dykes Taxidermy Supply which I really like, but in this blog and video, I’ll be using one that’s a little different, which I got from McKenzie Taxidermy Supply. This one features the bird in more of a side angle which will be perfect for this particular turkey, as it had two beards! Whether you want to use a mounting kit like one of these, or any others though, the process for preparing the tail fan feathers is the same.
Step #1 – Preparing the Tail Fan Feathers and Beard
For this first step in preparing the tail fan, you’ll need a couple of layers of cardboard, some long pins, and some salt or borax. To begin, carefully remove the tail section from the bird after you have the rest of the turkey field dressed and spray down the feathers heavily with alcohol to kill any bugs or insect eggs that could come back to damage the tail fan later.
Next, cut away as much remaining tissue as you can from around the base of the feathers, leaving just a thin layer, and pin the feathers to the cardboard in the manner that you’d like to display them. Take you’re time with this step and make sure you get it exactly how you want it to look when finished, as once the fan is completely dried out, it’s pretty well going to permanently be in that position.
After you have the fan all pinned in place, rub a heavy coat of borax or salt into the base of the feathers and change it every few days as it dries out the tissue.
In a similar manner, carefully remove the beard from your turkey at the base and place it in a cup of salt or borax. I won’t be using the spurs in this mount, but I will be saving them for my wild man necklace, so I cut them off with a hacksaw, removed the tendons, and put them in some salt as well.
Step #2 – Prepping the Mount
As the tail fan and beard are drying, I like to get the mount ready to go. You can use a mounting kit like the one I’m using here right out of the box, but I like to spruce it up a bit and make it look a little more realistic. You need at least three different shades of color to make something look lifelike, so I like to paint some light bronze and black highlights onto the mount to give the feathers a more realistic look, as you can see in the photos below.
Step #3 – Mounting the Fan and Beard
After the remaining tissue around the fan base and beard has dried out for a week or two, it’s ready to be mounted. There are different ways you can do this, but I like to use good ol’ Bondo automotive body filler to permanently secure and seal the tail fan. I first mix up a small batch and work it into the backside of the tail fan, paying close attention to getting it in between the feather bases as you can see below. And when it’s dry, I flip it over a do it again on the front portion of the fan to hold it all together.
Next, I secure the fan to the back of the mount with some drywall screws and attach the beard, or in this case the beards, with a hot glue gun. I also added an extra piece of wood to make the mount a little more secure for hanging on the wall, and then attached the hanger.
After it’s all done, I gently preened and dusted the feathers to clean them up a bit more and make them look as nice, and then I hung it on the wall.
And there you have it my friends, that’s how to do make a nice-looking display of your bird with one of these handy dandy turkey fan mounting kits. Check out the video below to see more…