Prepare Your Spring Turkey for the Taxidermist, Part Two

In Part One of this short series of articles dealing with getting your trophy spring turkey sagely to your taxidermist, we covered materials needed to transport or freeze your specimen. However, before you have to make any decisions on your harvested bird’s destination, you first need to actually kill a bird. Here are a few tips on proper pre-harvest planning.

The first thing to consider when taking a trophy bird is to pre-determine, if possible, that the potential bird is a worthy specimen for you to get mounted. While beard length and age are certainly the most looked at qualities, other details for consideration should be making sure that the bird is not missing many feathers.

Tail feathers are the easiest to see, but hopefully you have a good pair of optics that will allow you to look over the wings and look at the breast area. You should not see any patches of skin. A properly feathered bird will not be showing any bare spots except where the wing attaches to the body and around the anal area.  

Once you have decided that a bird may be of high quality, you need to consider the shot placement. If you are not an archery hunter, hopefully you are very knowledgeable about the pattern of your shotgun. You need to make a clean kill.

A concentrated head shot is very effective, but in my thirty years of turkey hunting, a head shot almost always leads to the bird flopping around on the ground for up to five minutes. Every turkey hunter knows that a flopping bird creates a feather cloud. Taxidermists need those feathers….on the bird. A good shot in the high neck will sever the spine and reduce the bird’s ability to flop around, so make that shot count.

After your bird is harvested, handle it with care and always lay it on its back. This will protect the soft feathers of the belly and chest area which can break off easily. I like to slide my birds into a pillow case to do this. You will need to make sure the wings are placed against the body naturally and you will need to lay the head and neck along one side of the bird. This will compact the bird and keep most feathers protected. It will also make a smaller package to handle while transporting or placing in the freezer.