Proper field care:

Game care begins in the field. The minute that special bird hits the ground proper field care for taxidermy begins. Birddogs hold a place in our hearts as retrievers as well as conservation tools. However, as a taxidermist, it is often that a client brings a bird that has been retrieved by a "hard-mouth" dog. Some birds that get retrieved end up being fine. Others are not so lucky. Try to keep all mountable birds away from dogs. I know, easier said than done.

Keeping these things in mind will greatly increase the odds for a quality mount:
  1. Retrieve the bird yourself if it is potentially a trophy.
  2. Do not carry birds by their necks, this could cause feather loss. Always carry trophies by the feet.
  3. If the bird is not dead, try "if at all possible" not to wring the neck. One effective way is to lay the bird on its chest, and carefully apply pressure to the back with your knee or hand; this will suffocate the bird quickly without damage.
  4. Keep as much blood and dirt from soiling the feathers as possible. Keep in mind, I will remove this later, yet, it is best to KEEP IT CLEAN.
  5. Broken bones and bullet holes in beaks are generally not a problem. However, lost feathers cannot be replaced!
  6. Life begins at 40! 40 degrees F. that is if you're talking about tissue destroying bacteria. Keep birds cool and put them in the freezer ASAP. Fold the head under a wing. Place them in a plastic bag, PLEASE DO NOT WRAP IN NEWSPAPER OR PANTYHOSE. Plastic bags only! Force as much air out as possible & seal it up. The smaller the bird, the more important this step is! For very small birds, (quail, parakeet) it can be helpful to soak the belly area in rubbing alcohol to prevent rapid bacterial growth.
  7. Get the bird to me quickly. The faster I get it, the better shape it will be in, and the quicker you will get it back.

How to kill a turkey:

Sometimes HOW we kill a bird is as important as how we take care of the bird before taxidermy. Nothing could be truer than with turkeys. I mount a LOT of turkeys and the biggest problem I see is shot damage to the feathers. We all know that a headshot with a tight choke is the way to kill a turkey with a shotgun, and I’ll take it a step farther and say it’s the only way to kill a turkey with a bow as well! Bow shot turkeys that got hit in the body and then flapped and flopped around losing half their feathers before dieing are a taxidermist's worst nightmare. To have the best chance at a quality mount get the bird in as close as you can, wait until his head is up out of his feathers, and shoot him right in the lips! Undoubtedly the bird will start to flop and flap around. Try not to pounce on the bird to prevent this. If you can, get a hold of BOTH legs with BOTH hands and hold him up to do his final flapping. If you don't feel comfortable picking the bird up, (and I don't blame you) just let him flop naturally. After the bird has expired, hang him up or lay him on his belly and let him cool out. Then wrap him in a plastic bag and get him to me ASAP. I'll skin the bird and send you home with the meat. If you can't get it to me right away, just keep the bird cool in a cooler or freeze the bird whole. DO NOT GUT THE BIRD. A cold (below 40 degrees) bird in a cooler will keep for three or four days.