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A Full-Body Mount

Creating a beautiful full-body mount of your trophy tom begins in the field, right after you shoot.

“The main thing that affects the quality of a mount is how the bird is handled before a person brings it to a taxidermist: treat the bird like a piece of glass.” That’s the advice from world champion taxidermist Cally Morris on making sure your bird makes a great mount. Morris, who also has judged NWTF national taxidermy contests, owns Hazel Creek Taxidermy in Green Castle, Mo. They mount about a 1,000 turkeys each year, shipped in by turkey hunters from all over North America.

“Treat the turkey delicately,” Morris suggests. “Handle the turkey by the legs or the body. Don’t grab it by the head, or drag it on the ground. Keep the feathers from getting bent or dirty. Also, when transporting the turkey, lay it on its belly, not its back.”

If your taxidermists are local it’s simple: just take the bird to them as soon as possible. If you have to ship your turkey to a taxidermist, there’s a lot more to consider. Following these steps will help relieve some of the anxiety about shipping your once-in-a-lifetime-turkey across the country.

Preparing the bird for freezing and shipping:

  1. Pack paper towels in the turkey’s mouth to absorb any leaking blood. Roll the head in paper towels. Fold more towels over the head and tape them closed.

  2. Tuck the head inside the wing. Fold the wings tight against the turkey’s body.

  3. Pre-cut a piece of cardboard to place over the tail feathers and feet. Do not tie the feet and feathers together for any reason inside the cardboard. (This is one of the most important steps; kinked tail feathers are difficult to repair.)

  4. Put the turkey headfirst inside a large plastic garbage bag. Roll the bag over in a teardrop shape, handling the turkey by only its legs or main body. Tape the bag.

  5. Fit the cardboard around the tail feathers and feet. Tape or staple the cardboard into position, though be careful not to staple through the feathers.

  6. Lay the turkey in the freezer on its side for 36 to 48 hours. The turkey will be frozen solid and ready to ship.

  7. Take the turkey out of the freezer and wrap it in bubble wrap. Several layers work best as an insulator. Newspapers wadded and packed in around the bird also help insulate it.

  8. Set the turkey headfirst in a box. The turkey should fit tight to prevent movement. Try finding a box at your local grocery store or moving company. If there are old labels on the box, tear them off or mark them with a black marker, so they do not confuse the shipping route.

  9. Ship your turkey to the taxidermist on a Monday if possible, and never on a Thursday. If you send it out later in the week, there’s a chance it could get misdirected and sit in a terminal over the weekend, thawing out and ruining your prize. A wild turkey will take about two days to thaw.

  10. Be sure you have the taxidermist's proper address. Never ship to a P.O. box. Ship only to a street address and include appropriate phone numbers on the shipping label.

  11. Include your name, address and phone number on a piece of paper inside the box. Be ready to discuss the pose of your wild turkey mount when your taxidermist calls.




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