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A few guys have asked me how to make the tail fans for decoys or how to mount your own. As promised, here is the step by step tutorial. The entire process should take you between 2 and 5 hours depending on your skill and experience.

READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE YOU START-it'll save you some time to see where you going before you get there!

The following are instructions for mounting you Wild turkey tail fan

What you need-
1. Sharp knife or scalpel
2. Mule team 20 Borax (meijer or wally's)
3. Wire brush
4. Masking tape or painter's tape
5. Hot glue gun and glue
Step 1-Skinning

Lay the bird on its back. Fr the purpose of this tutorial imagine the turkey's head is to your right and tail to the left. Locate the vent and part the feathers along the imaginary line that rings the tail just behind vent. If you hold the tail in you hands you will see the joint that connects the tail to the body. Carefully cut through the skin all the way around making a circle around the tail. Use you knife of a pair of shears and cut the bone just below the quills. Take you knife and separate whatever fat, meat, or grease that connects the tail.

You should now have a turkey tail that includes the Long tail feathers, the medium and short tail feathers and the several rows of back feathers.

Step 2- Fleshing

The first thing you may notice is the star shaped bone you cut through to remove the tail from the body. Using you knife and shears, cut this bone out. Examine the tail and you will notice the quills are connected by grease and fat. Begin the fleshing process by skinning the tail down by basically turning the inch or so of skin down like a sock. You will need you knife for this. Now the quills and fat are exposed. Take you knife and slice between each quill but do not go through the skin. Repeat this for each layer of feather on the tail. Usually there are 3 to 5 layers. (see image 1). Image 1 shows a partially fleshed turkey tail next to a fleshed turkey tail, take note of the yellow fat and grease on the tail to the left. You should be able to remove 80% of this fat with your knife. Once the tail feather are separated, using you wire brush gently stroke each quill to remove fat. Also use the wire brush on the fat on the skin. Once you are finished fleshing, your tail should look close to image 2.
The hard part is done!!!! Now to the fun part!

Step 3- Setting your Tail Fan

Begin this step by thoroughly coating the skin and quills you juts fleshed in Mule team 20 borax. DO NOT USE SALT! Now, I have a table for this part but you can use firm cardboard or plywood. Lay your tail fan on the table with the quills facing you and the front of the tail facing up. Gently spread the tail fan out to desired position. Full strut is about 160 degrees but many people go to 180 degrees. Using a one inch strip of masking tape or painter's tape, tape the feather on the far right to the edge of the table about 4 inches from the feathers tip. Next, tape the far left feather. Count the number of tail feather and find the middle feather (or two if even numbered) The middle feather will be the very top and the sides the very bottom. Layer the feathers to where the tip of each feather goes about 1/8" from the vane of the next feather.

Once you have layered the feathers, gently take a long strip of masking tape to secure the feather in their spot. Do Not Press On The Tape! Continue to layer each section of feathers the same way. Tape may not be needed for most the lower sections.

Now that your fan is taped You should be able to pick it up off the table and it will kinda hold its shape. Flip the tail on its front. For a tail fan mount for your wall take your knife and remove the skin on the back of the tail all the way up. none of these rear feathers will be seen anyway. Take your hot glue gun and coat the quills and skin in glue and let dry. (for a decoy fan do not remove the back feathers)

Let you fan sit for about half and hour then flip it back over. If the glue is solid carefully remove your tape. Look how the feathers run and pull with the feathers or you will rip them.

Now your tail fan should be set like a full strutter!

Step 5- Cleaning, Grooming, and Display
Using a barely damp rag with some dawn detergent on it, wipe the feathers with grain. This should just barely get anything wet. If you tail is very bloody to start with do this before you set it up.

Once you have cleaned it you can display it how you want. Image 3 will show a fan I did last year from one of my Kentucky birds. This fan is in a tail fan display plaque you can set on a mantle or hang on the wall. Look online to find what plaque fits you or cut your own out of barn wood.

Step 6- Beard and spurs

For a mount like mine, Cut each leg about 1/2 inch above and below the spur. Poke a wire through the hollow legs to remove the marrow and tendon. coat inside in borax. Using your hot glue, fill the cavities (there are 2 running up and down a turkey leg). Pat the ends while hot to get a crisp look. Once dry use a dab of hot glue to attach the spurs to the plaque.


Do not fill the cavity with glue and run a lanyard through the spurs. The staple your lanyard to the back of the plaque with the spurs hanging at your desired height.

For the beard, find where it attached to the skin and cut a circle around it. Cut at an angel instead of straight down. There will be some white cuticle left on the beard, don't cut this or the beard will fall to pieces! Coat the cuticle and root in borax. Most beards are about 1/2 wide. Drill a 1/2 inch hole in the bottom of the plaque and glue the beard in.


After coating the root in borax drill a whole in the skin and put it on the lanyard with your spurs.


I hope you guys fin this informative and helpful. Feel free to pm any questions or post them. Hopefully I covered all the bases. Happy Hunting!

· Registered
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Here are some other ideas for preserving you harvest!

Image 1 shows a few items. A wing bone yelper wrapped in whitetail leather, A lanyard with the beard and spurs of a jake, and a traditionaly quiver i made with the traditional "secondary or hunters" feather.

Image 2 is hanging from my rear view mirror!
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