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Getting gobbler home for full mount?
Headed to Nebraska next week. One of my bucket list items is to kill the slam and mount one of each species. I have an Eastern mounted. If I kill a Merriam I plan on freezing it whole and buy a cooler to put it in and check it on the flight. Anyone who has done this have any advice or even other options? Thanks!
I once heard to buy a pair of XXL panty hose, grab the neck and pull the bird into a leg sort of inside out. That will keep the feathers from getting too ruffled. I've never tried it, but sounded like a good idea. Except explaing to the cashier why you're buying XXL hose LOL
Wipe as much blood off of it as possible. You can also stuff a little TP in the mouth to keep more from coming out, if lung shot. Fold his head back and tuck it under his wing. Lay his tail flat and secure 2 cardboard pieces around his tail (one under & one on top). You could also wrap him in a towel to keep his feathers all smoothed down.
I had plenty of folks that hunted geese with me bring birds home to mount over the years. I always had them remove any blood, wipe out the birds mouth and stuff it with TP as T-roy suggested above. Then we would tuck the birds head under its wing and stuff it into panty hose. If the bird was to be frozen place it into a plastic bag, probably a garbage bag for a turkey. You don't want it to dry out. Also a great idea to do something to protect the tail feathers as T-roy mentioned as well. Never a worry on a goose but a turkey is another matter.
I would consider removing the tail fan to protect the feathers. Talk to your taxidermist first but it would be simple to do.
Another suggestion would be to investigate if there is a local taxidermist where you are going that might be willing to remove the tail the way it should be done for mounting for a nominal fee. The tail fan can then be closed tight and laid over the body before bagging and freezing it. Takes up much less room and keeps it from being damaged. The incision locations around tail are important and must be between certain feather tracts. It needs to be removed properly so that it can be reattached correctly later. Most if not all taxidermists remove tails from turkeys they mount. If asked, I would not have him/her skin it because depending on your taxidermist at home who is going to mount it, some prefer the leg to leg versus long ventral incisions. Also, accurate body/neck measurements need to be taken to get the correct form which need to be done at the time you skin the bird. Almost all good turkey taxidermists remove the heads, feet and tails to be assembled individually at specific points later in the mounting process. Some even remove the wings. Check with your taxidermist and see how he would want you to handle the fresh bird. Ask... maybe your taxidermist can train you on removing the tail correctly, which will certainly make it easier to freeze and transport.
I have flown birds home in coolers as checked baggage from Florida and mailed 2nd day from Central Texas, both worked equally well. I prepared the birds the same way both times. I made sure the bird was well cooled before I stuffed cotton balls into the throat and then wrapped the head in a paper towel. I had one piece of cardboard that I cut 4" longer the distance from the front of the bird with the head tucked under the wing to the tail. I put the bird on his back on the cardboard with the 4" going past the end of the fully collapsed fan.
Next I cut another piece of cardboard to put over the underside of the fan to protect it extending from the back of the drumsticks to 4" past the tail tips. Using plastic wrap, I wrapped (several times) around the both pieces of cardboard beginning at the end of tail moving forward. Once satisfied that the tail wasn't going to move I then continued wrapped the bird with the plastic wrap until it was fully covered, tucking the head under the wing in the process. Once this was done I put the bird in a feed/grain sack and then froze it.
For the flight I just put clothing around the frozen bird in a cooler. For the shipping I put paper and whatever I could find around it. I also do this for cross country drives. You can leave the bird in the back of the truck a couple days this way and it won't thaw if frozen solid plus its protected by the bag. Living in Iowa, WY, ND, SD and NE are all a days drive so have brought quite a few birds home this way for friends who hunted with me. Probably sounds overboard but that was what a taxidermist recommended to me in 1997. I have always followed it, never having a problem and knowing the bird will be in great shape when I get home.
It really is pretty darn easy to skin the bird for the mount. Watch a couple youtube videos and its really easy. And I have just flown with birds in carry on before
Just fyi your Nebraska bird will qualify for a slam all by itself. Tom's in Nebraska will mate with anything that remotely resembles a hen:)
Man, this is some great advice! Thanks so much for the detailed responses!
I rented a video on mounting a bird and watched the skinning process several times. I then tried it on a couple birds from home. Pretty easy. So when I killed each sub-species I just skinned out leg to leg and froze the skin. I made a homemade gambrel with large fish hooks and small chain to hang the bird from a tree while skinning it. Then ate the rest of the bird :)
Good idea Timber. I'm at least going to take the tail off so it will fit in a smaller cooler
I’ll echo what Scrappy said - if you really want a pure strain merriam’s, go to Wyoming, Colorado, or Montana. Most Nebraska birds are mutts with questionable lineage. Not that I’m bashing them - I like to kill turkeys, period. But Nebraska has Rios, Merriams, and Easterns, and any bird there can have vestiges of each.
The best bet is to ask YOUR taxidermist....do you even know if he uses a fake head or a freeze dried head. How many of the leg bones does he use....wing bones etc. He can tell you EXACTLY what HE wants.
Some good advice here especially re: blood and the head. If you feel capable, I would buy some borax to soak up the fluids and skin it in the field with a single edge razorblade. Salvage the meat and do whatever with it. Be liberal with the borax and carefully fold and protect the skinned out bird with clothing and special care given to the tail feathers. I have done this and brought him home as my carry-on bag. Freeze asap so that skin does not have to be wet out. This option worked for me but I will admit that I am experienced in taxidermy so this may not be for everyone. Best of luck to you for whatever you do ............Badbull
I froze a NY turkey and placed him in a garbage bag inside of mt duffel and he flew home to MS as luggage. No problem at all and with clothes packed around him he was frozen solid when I got back.
I shot a nice Eastern in Missouri one spring and planned to have it mounted. Brought it back to the farm house and set it on the bed of a pickup, went inside to clean up a bit and about 30 minutes later came back outside to see feathers everywhere, the bird was ruined. Damn cats...
How long have you guys had turkeys in a cooler with ice before getting frozen? That may be a consideration if it's not possible to freeze your turkey if you are going to be gone on an extended trip. Does anyone have any recommendation on ideas of where to go to freeze a turkey when in the boonies? Possibly a place that may freeze them in smaller towns? Once frozen they are likely good for a couple days.
You may want to grab the turkey you intend on mounting as quick as you can after shooting them. They always seem to do a "turkey dance" once shot and may loose a bunch of feathers. Beware of the broadhead if the arrow is still in it! I often hold toms flat on the ground until they are totally "lifeless" if I'm going to keep a cape.
An arrow can put a sizeable hole in a turkey...especially if it's thrashing around with an arrow in it! I would place paper towels inside the arrow holes plus around the head to prevent blood from spreading. I would not use a plastic bag for turkeys until you are ready to freeze them. Blood may spread all over the bird. Game bags work great for wrapping inside a cooler...and actually absorb blood. I would place garbage bags above the ice and then place the tom on top of the garbage bag so the feathers stay dry...make sure to drain the melt water! Most taxidermist use the original free-dried head off a turkey so keep that in mind if using gillitine type broadheads.
If you are a turkey "purist" .....Unless you head to the NW corner of Nebraska you are likely in areas with hybrid merriam-rios. There may even be hybrids in the NW corner of Nebraska? A lot of areas in Nebraska have toms that have white feathers in the same area with toms that have rio colored feathers. Where I hunt in Central Nebraska there are both...and they are likely all hybrids even though some may have pure white tail feathers. It may not be a big deal to you but something to consider?
Nick, that stinks! Reminds me of the skull mount I was doing in a gobbler head last year, put it on a wall in the sun and walked up just as my dog was swallowing it. Lol
The ratings on some of the newer cooler models is around 5 days...which is pretty good but it would be better to freeze toms whole on extended trips.
Does anyone have any ideas on where to freeze them in small towns? I was thinking of checking out local, small town meat/big game processors, grocery stores, or restaraunts to see if they are willing to freeze a gobbler or 2 for a few days. The motel I stayed at a few years ago had a freezer where I stored a trophy fish (20 lbs) to be mounted.
jims-I have had luck going to town. The first time I did it I ask the grocery store itself if they would freeze it for me. They wouldn't do it because it was not something they had for purchase but one of workers said they would freeze it for me at home. I gave them $25 for doing it, they were happy and so was I. Another time when travelling with a freshly killed bird, I stopped for the night to sleep and went the local sporting goods store. It was easy to find someone there who would put my bird in their freezer for the night. Again, gave them $25 for doing it. I've done this a few times since. The people were just happy to help out, I just had to ask.
I went to small store with a locked bag ice freezer. He let me put my birds on the locked side and freeze them. I then picked them up when i headed home.