Helpful tips to use on gobbler parts

You sure can’t use May’s weather to prove a global warming theory.

I sat in the woods one day last week and endured a hailstorm and winds so cold, I thought it was deer season, not spring gobbler season. For the umpteenth time in my life I wondered why I was out there.

“Why am I not home baking cookies like any other normal woman would be?” I thought to myself.

Nevertheless, flowers are struggling through the ground in my yard, though I swear I can see them shivering.

It’s time now that gobbler hunters who were successful are deciding how to preserve their trophies. Like me, not every hunter can have every turkey he or she bags so we find other ways to preserve a memento of the hunt. Turkey hunters save gobbler beards the same way and for the same reason deer hunters save antlers — a visible reminder of all the exciting events and moments that culminated in our bagging a trophy.

I’ve seen many hunters wearing a bolo-necklace that displays the beard of a gobbler they took. I got the instructions for making a bolo from one of the hunters, Randy Opferbeck, former president of the New Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Here’s his advice.

You will need a length of leather or rawhide, slightly longer that the length you prefer for the necklace, a dozen wooden beads, the toes of the turkey, and a shotgun shell case, the one from the shell you used to bag the turkey, of course.

“The turkey toes need some preparation before using. Let the turkey foot dry for about three months,” he said. “After this length of time, cut two toes off the foot at the required length (personal preference) and drill a small hole through the toe just below the point where they were cut off. Then, to preserve them and make them glossy, apply a coat of light varnish to them.

“Now, after the toes are preserved and readied, you are ready to actually assemble the necklace. First poke the primer out of the shotgun shell. Next, string the beads and toes on the rawhide, alternating one toe after each two beads. Then string the ends of leather or rawhide strip through the primer hole and tie around the top of the beard. Put tape around this jointure so that it will be flush with the inside of the shell. When this is done, pull the leather tight which pulls the beard into the shell.”

There are plenty of variations to this necklace that an individual can devise according to his own ingenuity. But wearing this adornment is sure to initiate a conversation.

Perhaps you got a gobbler with long spurs and you would like to preserve the legs. I got this recipe for doing so out of Turkey Call magazine some years ago. One year I got a gobbler with 1¢ inch spurs and I preserved them this way.

Then I plucked a bracket fungus off a dead tree in the woods. I mounted the bracket fungus on the wall and set the turkey legs on top and it made quite a striking item.

Here’s how to preserve turkey legs. Mix into a quart of formaline (a 10- percent concentration of formaldehyde with water) one-cup of borax. Prepare the feet for soaking by pricking with an ice pick the fleshy parts of the feet so the solution can soak in.

Soak for 3 or 4 hours. Let dry, but form the feet around a tissue wad to prevent them from drawing up in an unnatural way.

I wanted my turkey legs to stand naturally so I set them flat and tied them with heavy twine to a post with the feet spread out so they would dry in that position.

There are all sorts of turkey beard boards put out by various manufacturers, and they also make a great display on a den wall. I once bagged a double spurred bird in New Jersey and displayed it on a spread out turkey fan. That is now displayed in my living room much to the consternation of many in my own family who cannot imagine why I would want “that” on display in my house.


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