One of the more popular ways to preserve a memorable turkey hunt is with the fan and beard mounted on a plaque. You can take it to a taxidermist, but if you want to save some money, doing it yourself is a fairly simple process.
-- First, remove the beard by cutting it away from the breast. Be sure to leave just enough flesh at the base to keep the bristles intact. Moisten the base and dip it in a mixture of salt and borax (about 50:50). Then set it in a well-ventilated area to dry.
-- Next, cut the tail off at its base, leaving enough flesh and bone so the fan remains intact. When in doubt, err on the side of caution; you can always remove more later.
-- Beginning on the underside, filet the flesh and smaller feathers away from the tail base by guiding your knife blade along the shafts of the retrices (large tail feathers). You'll soon encounter a bone at the center of the fan base. Leave this intact, for now.
-- Turn the tail over, and do the same thing on the top, leaving the first layer of tail coverts (smaller feathers) intact. This first layer lacks the dark band at the top.
-- Using a pair of diagonal cutters, cut away the bone in the center of the tail base.
If you did all the above correctly, there should be enough tissue remaining to keep the large tail retrices connected together as a fully intact fan.
-- Carefully trim away any remaining flesh and fat, then cover any remaining flesh or tissue generously with your salt-borax mix.
-- Spread the tail out into a half circle and tack to a board or other hard surface to dry.
-- Go back to the flesh and feathers you filleted off the tail and pluck out some of the shorter tail feathers that originally covered the top side of the fan base - 8 or 10 should suffice - and set them aside for later.
--You can purchase game bird fan mount plaques at most outdoor retailers that come with slots for the fan and beard, or you can make your own.
-- Once the fan has dried completely, lay some of the shorter feathers back in place and fasten them with hot glue.
-- Hot-glue the beard in the bottom slot and the fan in the top slot and hang it on the wall. That's it! -- By Bob Humphrey