Turkey Hunting: How to Make Turkey Beard and Spur Ropes

Use Turkey Beards and Spurs to Display Memories

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The Equipment

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1 | The Equipment

The equipment needed to make a beard or spur rope is both minimal and simple. You need the beards and spurs, of course, and some sort of cable or line to string them on. Dark trotline staging works well, as does a thin strip of rawhide leather. Long bootlaces, both leather and woven, are also good choices.

Personally, I prefer using small-diameter galvanized aircraft cable (shown here) because it has no stretch. Other equipment needed: a hot glue gun and glue sticks, small eye screws, and the brass bases of shotgun hulls, preferably 12-gauge, with the primers removed.

(Use the hacksaw to cut the plastic shell casing off the brass base, and a nail or small punch to drive out the spent primer.)

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Glue Beard

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2 | Glue Beard

Place a shell casing flat on the work surface and hold the turkey beard upright with the butt of the beard inserted into the brass.

Carefully fill in around each side with glue until the hull is full, then simply hold the beard upright in the hull until the glue is firm. This usually takes 30 to 45 seconds. Waiting until the glue is completely hardened isn’t necessary, but it needs to be firm enough so the beard doesn’t shift inside the hull.

I usually glue all my beards into the hulls in one run, then go on to the next step in the process, which is . . .

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Next Step

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3 | Next Step

. . . gluing the screw eye in place. If you want, you can use a small-diameter drill to make a pilot hole, but it’s not really necessary because the hot glue will hold the screw eye in place. Simply insert the screw eye into the primer hole and fill in around it with hot glue. As with the beard, it’s necessary to hold the screw in place until the glue begins to set up.

You won’t do a perfect job of hot-gluing, especially at first. If you have run-overs, simply trim away excess hardened glue with a sharp knife.

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String Beards

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4 | String Beards

When your beards are all done, simply string them together, using whatever spacers suit your fancy. I like wooden beads, but personal preference should be your guide here. The important thing is to make sure the beards are far enough apart so they can be seen and appreciated individually. I recommend at least an inch between beards.

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Beard Rope

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5 | Beard Rope

And here is the finished beard rope.

A rope can be as long or short as you want it to be, but five or six feet is about the maximum for ease of handling. But who says you can have only one? 

Click to the next slide to see what a spur rope looks like.

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Spur Rope

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6 | Spur Rope

And here's a spur rope.

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Bonus Read: 5 DIY Turkey Taxidermy Projects

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It’s the gobble that pulls us out there, but it’s the adrenaline rush that keeps us there. And it’s the sight of that magnificent bird, just before we set him to flopping, that makes the whole thing worthwhile. But after it’s all over with, we have things left over. What to do with them?

There’s the turkey itself, of course, and there are many delicious ways to make it disappear. But there are also inedible mementoes of the hunt, trophies in their own right – the beards and spurs of those gobblers we’ve taken. Many of these, sad to say, end up stored in shoeboxes or forgotten in sock drawers, or eaten by silverfish and dermestid beetles and eventually thrown away.

What a shame, and what a waste. Properly prepared and displayed, both beards and spurs make attractive decorations for any hunter’s den or office. One of the easiest ways to display those beards and spurs is by stringing them into a rope. It’s easy. If I can do it, believe me, anybody can.

First of all, of course, you need to accumulate enough beards and spurs to make a rope. Since this usually takes several seasons, you need a safe way of storing them until you have enough to make a rope. Using an airtight container in the freezer (a Tupperware-type plastic container or zip-type freezer bags, or both) is the best way. Alternatively, you can store the beards and spurs without freezing them by using the same plastic containers and adding a few moth balls, but freezing them is the safest way.

To prepare spurs for storage, use a hacksaw to cut the turkey leg bones close to either side of each spur, then use a Q-Tip to push out the marrow. Fasten each pair of spurs together using bread ties, small plastic cable ties, fine wire or stout string.

Many hunters cut a turkey’s beard from the breast with a sharp knife and trim away as much skin and fat as possible, but to eliminate the trimming and have a more attractive beard, simply grasp the beard at the base, put your other hand on the gobbler’s breast, and pull steadily. The beard will pop cleanly loose, leaving all skin and fat on the carcass, and the beard filaments will be held together by the cartilaginous base from which it grows. 

(Editor's note: Click through the rest of this photo gallery to see how to make beard and spur ropes.)