Spring – a time when everything ‘comes back to life’ after being dormant all winter. Temperatures increase, insect populations rise, and thundering sounds of gobbles fill the air. The anticipation to get back out in the field brings excitement to spring turkey hunters.
If you are anything like me, I can’t wait to chase gobblers and work on filling my tags. However, I have run out of wall space to proudly display the successes to come. Not everyone is going to full body mount a turkey, hang a spread on the wall, or even keep the tail fan. There is a fairly easy way to remember the hunt and keep display space to a minimum – keep only the beard and spurs.
This DIY method of preservation is fairly simple and with only a minimal time investment. The difficulty level is low. You will want to read the steps first before butchering your bird so you know what to keep. If you are short on time during season, store legs and beards in the freezer until you have time to start the process. I just finished mine from last spring’s harvest.
Empty shotgun shell
Vise or clamp
Ziplock bag of borax
Leather lace (like shoe lace)
Hot glue gun and glue
1) Remove legs at the knee
2) Freeze legs in a ziplock bag for at least 24 hours. This step can be skipped, but I would recommend it because I find frozen legs result in cleaner cuts.
3) Use a fine-tooth saw to remove the section of the leg with the spur. I make cuts approximately ¼” above and below the spur. A vise or clamp aids in holding the leg in place while cutting. A utility knife can be used to clean up any rough edges left by the saw.
4) Clean leg section under running water making sure to remove the bone marrow from the center of the bone. Insert a toothpick to help with this. (photo 2)
5) Place in borax for a couple of weeks to dry and preserve (photo 3)
1) Find the base of the beard on the bird and gently pull to make the skin around the beard tight. It may help to pluck some feathers around the beard to get a better view of the base of the beard.
2) With a sharp knife remove the beard by cutting the skin around the base of the beard.
3) If the beard is dirty, wash it in warm water with dish soap and rinse thoroughly. Dry the beard by patting it with a towel and using a hairdryer to finish the job.
4) If freezing for later, place in the same bag of legs and put it in the freezer.
5) Place the base of the beard in borax for a couple of weeks to dry and preserve.
I keep the hull from the load that actually shot the turkey, you don’t have to.
1) Cut the plastic portion of an empty hull at the edge of the brass using a saw or utility knife
2) Remove the shell’s primer by placing the nail or punch on the inside face of the primer and tapping with a hammer. The brass should be placed on something that has a hole for the primer to be pushed through. A ¾” wide ring made from the plastic part of the hull will work.
1) Tie a loop in the leather lace - lace can be substituted with twine or string depending on the look you are after.
2) Thread the spurs on to the lace followed by the brass. Once the brass is in place, I add a dab of hot-glue on the inside of the brass to hold the lace in place.
3) Insert the beard into the end of brass and fill with hot-glue to hold the beard in place.
And now you're ready to display!