As an avid turkey hunter, there's nothing quite like the thrill of a successful hunt. For me, it's not just about the meat or the challenge of the pursuit; it's also about honoring the gobbler and acknowledging his unique beauty by displaying his fan and tail feathers.
Whenever possible I love creating turkey fan mounts with my gobblers. When I'm successful on my hunt and I create my tail feather plaque, it allows me to display those feathers in a way that allows me to tell the story of my hunt while paying tribute to the gobbler I pursued.
Each mount represents a special memory and a moment of triumph in the field, and it's a way for me to share that story with others who appreciate the artistry and skill involved in turkey hunting.
With the right preparation and gear, your season will be successful. Check out our page "The Ultimate Gear Guide for Turkey Hunters", we dive deep into the calls, clothes, decoys, and more that will make your hunt more successful.
Whether you're checking on mounting and plaque opportunities before your hunt, or you have been successful and now want to display your success. We've got several good plaques for you to see that could inspire you to produce your own display setup or you can pick up one of the DIY Turkey Fan Display Kits we've recommended.
The process of preparing and displaying your turkey fan is not a difficult one. With the right kit, the DIY taxidermist within all of us can accomplish this feat. You will have your turkey fan displayed in a few short days so let's check out a few designs you may like.
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How to Prepare My Turkey Fan for Display
Now that you have successfully killed a turkey you need to prepare the fan for taxidermy. Since this blog is about DIY taxidermy let's go over some of the steps in getting your tail fan ready for your mounting kit.
If you need a little more guidance on how to prepare your turkey fan, check out this PDF by Storm W. Usrey the Conservation Education Manager with New Mexico Wildlife on How to Mount Your Own Turkey Tail Fan & Beard.
Removing the Tail Feathers from the Body of Turkey
First, you need to do when cleaning and getting your bird butchered is to remove the tail feathers from the bird.
To remove the tail feathers, you will need to cut through the connective tissue at the base of the feathers where they attach to the body. The exact location of this cut will depend on the size and shape of the tail fan you want to create.
In general, you will want to cut the base of the tail, just above where the feathers start to fan out. You may need to use a sharp pair of scissors or a scalpel to cut, being careful not to damage any of the feathers.
Once you have cut, you should be able to gently pull the tail fan away from the body, taking care not to damage any of the feathers or break the delicate bones in the tail. The tail fan should come away easily, but if you encounter any resistance, you may need to use a little more force or make additional cuts to free the fan from the body.
Clean and Prepare the Tail Fan
At the point where you separated the fan from the body, you need to start removing any meat and fat from the fan. Once cleaned up you should be able to see the individual feathers. Make sure you clean between the feathers also removing any meat or fat.
NOTE: you do not want to remove any connective tissue that is keeping the feathers together in a clump.
Now that you have the meat and fat removed you can clean up the feathers themselves. Use a soft cloth and water to gently wipe down the feathers to remove any dirt or debris.
Fan Out the Tail to Prepare for Drying Out the Tissue Area
Now that the fan is cleaned and ready for the next step you will need some cardboard or similar flat material to place and set up your fan.
Place the tail feathers on the cardboard and fan out the feathers. Separate the fan to a half-moon shape similar to that of the gobbler with a full strut. You may choose to tack down the feathers using thumbtacks or push pins.
Place your fan how you desire the finished product to look before you use the push-pins. Once you have the fan in the position you like it's time to dry out the feather ends.
Drying Out Your Turkey Fan
Use Borax or salt to dry out the tissue area of the fan. Using these substances you will need a couple of weeks to get the fan dry.
Now that the fan has dried out you are ready for the hardener. Body filler (w/hardener) is used at the base on both sides. The filler, once hardened, will keep your tail feathers in the spread-out position.
Once the Bondo material has hardened you can remove your push pins and mount your turkey fan.
Best Turkey Fan Kits
Hunter Specialties Strut Turkey Tail & Beard Mounting Kit
This is a great DIY turkey mounting kit for the successful hunter. A great, low-cost, fan mount for every species of bird. An easy-to-assemble mounting kit has the ability to make your turkey tail look good for your man cave, garage, or hunting cabin. Very basic design and style, but this kit does the job.
Cut Log Turkey Fan Plaque Kit
How about a one-of-a-kind turkey fan and beard mounting kit? The display is from cut logs and is generally 18-22" long and 7-10" wide. Each plaque is different with an engraved turkey on the front. Get the real log look without cutting down your tree. Get a plaque with unique knots and rings. Each is finished with a veneer to make your display the conversation piece of your mounts.
Carved Turkey Tail Mounting Kit
BnM Design turkey tail and fan kit w/beard and spur display. The unique nature of this manufacturer is they have 4 choices: Walnut, Brushed Barnwood, Dark Oak, and Light Oak. You can get your display customized with your Turkey Species on the front. Did you shoot an Eastern Turkey, Osceola, or Merriam's? You can have that detail carved into the front of your display making your display unique and providing more relevant information for the stories.
H.S. Strut 3 Beard Mounting Plaque with Natural Oak
Display your favorite tail fan, but display three sets of turkey spurs and beards for all your friends to see. The HS Strut 3 Beard Mounting Plaque is constructed with natural oak finish and laser engraved gobbler in full strut position featured on the front of the plaque. If you hunt several gobblers every year this display kit gives you the opportunity to show off all your turkey beards.
Walnut Hollow Turkey Fan Mount & Display Kit
Stop scrolling for a moment you have to see these plaques. The Walnut Hollow Country store has 8 different decorative face panels. These unique designs can make any simple fan display the talk of the trophy wall. Click on the picture to the right and look at the choices. The wood is made of Solid Oak and each display is 11.5" tall.
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H.S. Strut Turkey Tail Mounting Plaque
Here is a metal turkey display mount. This is a China-built and GSM Outdoors and HS Strut product. There are no reviews on this product and therefore we cannot give you the detailed information. It is an alternative to the wood plaque fan displays.
Turkey Hooker by Skull Hooker
A favorite brand for Shaggy Outdoor Team. We use the Skull Hooker for several of our Elk and Deer European Mounts. While not a traditional turkey fan mount, this alloy steel with a Graphite Black finish looks fantastic. Mount it on the wall, your Skull Hooker tree stand, or set it on the counter or your desk. Mount with one beard center or up to 3 total turkey beards.
Taxidermy Woodshop Black Walnut Carved Turkey Mount with Beard Plate
Another beautiful display by the Taxidermy Woodshop. Get this Walnut Satin Finished mount with Carved Turkey Tracks. A unique design gives life to your turkey fan display. Once your fan is cured in less than 10 minutes you can have your trophy displayed on the wall.
ESH Turkey Fan Mount Kit
ESH Custom State Natural Oak Turkey Mounting Kit is a durable and easily assembled fan and turkey tail kit. Display one or up to 3 beards. This is a STATE Cut Out Design. Make sure you choose your home state or the state you harvested your turkey. A unique option to get the best looking display.
Final Thoughts on Mounting Your Turkey Tail Fan
When it comes to being our own taxidermist there are times we should just leave it up to the pros. But, here is a case where every hunter should find joy in mounting their tail fan for their own enjoyment and for the sake of showing off to their fellow hunting buddies.
You can handle the process of mounting your fan. It is one of the easiest taxidermy skills we can learn. You can save hundreds of dollars or even thousands over your lifetime learning this skill.
Take the time to finish your hunting by mounting your own turkey tail fan.