Submitted by Dr. Paul Bambara, Team HuntingLife PROSTAFF
The beauty of a wild turkey can never fully be appreciated until the hunt is a success.
Yes, a gobbler in full strut at close range is a life altering experience, but to truly admire a mature tom you must feel the weight of the bird draped over your shoulder. You must run your hands over the iridescent feathers, must fan out the magnificent tail, stroke the beard, and test the sharpness of the fighting spurs. To me the best part of a harvested turkey is the fabulous meal that is going to follow, yet the memories come when I look at the various trophies that I have amassed in 30 years of chasing and guiding for wild turkey.
I was lucky enough to attend a seminar by the late great turkey guru Ben Lee.
During that information filled talk some 29 years ago, he asked the audience to raise a hand if they had ever killed a wild turkey. There were far more people looking around then raising an arm in triumph. Back then turkey numbers were down and permits for the privilege of pursuing the noblest of birds were rare and hard to draw. Today the same question would find most arms raised. Now many hunters shoot multiple toms every spring, this no longer a rare feat with turkey populations and bag limits at all time highs.
I love my mounted birds, and my flying tom gets more comments in my trophy room than any other mount, especially from women who always want to know, “just what is that”? A full strut mount of my largest turkey to date dominates a corner of the room. These are very nice but also big, bulky, and expensive. I have too many fans to put out, as they take up a lot of space, and I often give them to non-hunter as decorations for their homes. I also have a pile of beards just sitting around gathering dust. Here is a unique, very easy to make, and small trophy that looks great and can be hung anywhere, especially off your rear view mirror, and captures the spirt of a turkey hunt without the size or expense of taxidermy.
Instructions for your DIY Wild Turkey Mount
You need a wild turkey tom to start, at least two years old. Cut off the beard leaving a small piece of the skin attached and salt for a week or so until dry. Use a sharp set of shears to cut each leg above and below the spur. Use a small knife and peel the skin off the leg and around the base of the spur, use a toothpick to clear the marrow out of the center of the bone, and salt for a week or so. Take your spent shotgun shell (we shouldn’t be leaving these in the woods anyway) and cut the plastic a short distance from the brass. With a punch and hammer, gently tap out the spent primer. Thread 2 beads, the spurs and 2 more beads on to a length of leather shoe lace. You will find a countless array of beads in all sizes, shapes, colors, and materials in any craft store. Slide the lace ends into the empty primer hole and hot glue in place, DO NOT fill the whole shell up with hot glue. Allow to set for 10 minutes then hot glue the beard in the shell and hold in position until set, usually a few minutes. That’s all there is to it. Enjoy!
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