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Making Taxidermy Mount Decisions

Last spring, I was lucky enough to harvest a mature, good-looking tom. Then, I pulled the trigger on buying a full-body turkey mount. I’ve wanted one for more than ten years, and I was happy to finally make the decision to buy one.

In the taxidermy world, turkeys are tough to do right, so I wanted to go with a taxidermist that has a strong reputation and long track record of high-quality work.

I choose Cally Morris at Hazel Creek Taxidermy. This was an easy choice for multiple reasons. First, Morris and his company have won many taxidermy awards, and have a reputation as being one of the best in the industry. Second, Hazel Creek specializes in making freeze-dried heads. The result is a final product that is all original skin and body parts of the turkey, not a fake plastic head. Finally, they can ship full-body mounts anywhere in the country, so the fact that they are located in Missouri and I live in Minnesota was simply not a problem.

After the taxidermist is chosen, it becomes decision time – you’ll need to answer the following questions to figure out what style of mount to order.

  1. Do you want the mount on the wall or on the floor? Typical wall mounts include a bird on a limb, flying, or harvested and hanging from its feet. Typical floor mounts are set on a table or a pedestal. On one hand, a wall mount gets the trophy up high and out-of-the-way. But a floor pedestal mount allows for a variety of “habitat” base options and keeps the trophy at eye-level for more close-up views.

  2. How do you want the body positioned? Different body positions dramatically change the look and attitude of your mount. Consider four major elements: head placement, stance, wing set and tail fan arrangement. The many combinations of these factors achieve different looks, including a gobbling turkey, a tom in full or half strut, an alert or relaxed posture, and many others.

  3. What direction do you want your mount facing? You can choose from a side-profile mount, a mount with the bird looking straight out with its back against the wall, or a trophy positioned at a quartering angle.

  4. What wood do you want for your display fixture? You’ll need to choose the type of wood for your tree limb, plaque or pedestal. Or you could also choose to do the woodworking yourself.

  5. If choosing a pedestal mount, what habitat do you want? For common habitat, most hunters choose to replicate the place where they shot the bird. For example, a hunter who shot their tom in the western mountains might opt for a base that features pine cones, pine needles and rocks.

To help answer these questions, visit several turkey taxidermy web sites to see examples of mount types, body positions and habitat options. And don’t be afraid to ask your taxidermist lots of questions. A good one will spend plenty of time on the phone with you, so you’ll understand and feel comfortable will all your options.

For my trophy, I chose a pedestal mount of a walking gobbler in cornfield stubble. I couldn’t be happier with the turkey-mount decisions I made. The memory of that great hunt will always be proudly on display. But it now looks quite lonely by itself. It could really use a friend – maybe a good-looking Osceola? That decision will have to wait!

JJ Reich




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