First Time Feather Preserving

When I went out for my spring turkey this past season on the opening day, I didn’t have realistic hopes of bringing one home. However, I was lucky to take a great a bird out of the woods that day! I got the turkey home, did all the cleaning, plucking, and set aside the wings, fan, feet and beard of course. I had never preserved anything before except by cooking or freezing it, so I did some quick research. I definitely made some rookie mistakes that I won’t be repeating which we I’ll get into.

I was able to nicely spread the wings and fan on some foam board, using straight pins to hold all the feathers in a nice and evenly spread position. Then, I basically emptied my pantry of all the salt and just caked it onto all the exposed flesh where everything connected to the bird, then set it in my garage. Rookie mistake right here, leaving the feathers where flies had access to them. I thought that the salt would detour them but instead I found my feathers crawling with maggots a few days later. I was then stuck putting the feathers out in the elements for the rest of the curing process so that my house didn’t become home to a million flying pests. I re-salted them and disposed of the maggots a few times, but it took weeks and weeks for the bugs to finish their work. Luckily they only cared about the meaty parts and after some disgusting visits to make sure nothing was bothering the feathers, which were now kept outside but under cover from the rain, they had ate everything left them off.

Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 9.01.32 AM Next time, I’m taking my dad’s advice (which came too late) and getting borax and loading up the exposed flesh much more then I had with just the salt to help seal it better. I will also keep them wrapped inside some old mosquito netting I have in my basement, away from access to flies!

Jul 29, 2013 | Category: Blog | Comments: 1


One comment on “First Time Feather Preserving

  1. Jeannett

    For future reference. I have a simple process for ya’ll when it comes to birds. It only takes about 15-25 minutes to do this

    Supplies needed;
    Knife, Borax mixed with Ground Corn Cob, Coleman Fuel, Dawn dish soap, hairdryer, plastic containers.

    * After you have the pieces you want to preserve, cut away as much of the flesh as you can.
    * Next wash those pieces in cool water and Dawn dish soap. This removes the fats, oils and greases from the feathers. Which, in turn, helps to deter moths. (Moths are the nemesis of feather.)
    * Rinse off in cool water until all soap is rinsed out.
    * Dip the pieces into a container of Coleman fuel. This will remove any excess fats, oils and grease the dawn did not get off. And it will remove the water from feathers.
    * Lay the pieces into a mixture of borax and (ground) corn cob and cover them completely. Lightly rub the mixture along the feathers. Keep re-covering them until the mixture falls away freely, don’t worry if your feathers appear dusty, this is normal.
    * After a few minutes, to ensure fuel has evaporated. You can now blow dry the feathers. Just be careful not dry them against their natural direction.

    Your feathers are now preserved against rotting (no flies) and moths. They are now ready to be mounted.

    If you would like, I can bring you some ground corn cob to hunt fest. Everything else is pretty easy to find at any grocery store.
    Jeannett L. Eiden


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