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Taxidermynet Turkey Seminar

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by Harry Whitehead, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    Since I've been forced to mount my own birds due to not finding help I thought that it might be fun to share with everyone how I do things. Feel free to critique and ask questions and there may be a little surprize for those that participate.

    I basically set up my mannikin first so that I may check for balance, symmetry and pose. By doing it this way I can devote more time into things like grooming without having to go back and try and correct something later. I don't want to get into skin prep because I don't want this to turn into a gas or no gas thread but just for everyone's information, I USE GAS!! Soooo, after the skin is fleshed, washed, gassed and dried and after the borax it is applied to the mannikin that I have set up.

    I am using the mannikins that I produce along with the drumsticks. All thread rod is used but you can also use straight rod and thread the end yourself. I start from the ground up. What I mean by that is I place the feet where I want them on the base. I then apply the drumsticks and then bend the legs to look natural on the base depending upon the pose. I then carve out the body to accept the drumsticks to give the bird the correct position. Depending upon the exact pose the back of the bird will either be level with the ground or more erect. The bird that we will be mounting is a strutting Rio......

    Attached Files:

  2. What size threaded rod do you use Harry? Does it run the entire length of the drumstick? Where does it exit out of the foot at? Thanks for the help. Brian

  3. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    Thanks for the questions Brian!!! I use 1/4" threaded rod or straight rod of the same size and thread the end myself. I will drill out the marrow of the legbone and run the rod staight down the center of the bone. Depending upon the pose and the angle of the legs and feet depends upon where the rod comes out of the foot. For support you have to use the heavy rod so it makes it hard to bend at sharp angles so keep that in mind. My drumsticks have a canal for the rod to go through but you have to use a paddle bit and drill out a hole in the body where the rod will go through. I simply cut the rod off and fill the hole that I drilled with fiber bondo once the drumsticks are in place. When the bondo sets it isn't going anywhere and the mount will be very stable..... I like to use this method because if you use a form that already has the drumsticks incorporated in the form then you can't use it on an uneven surface or limb because your balance would be off.....

    Surely someone has a question!!!! Come on!!! I'll post another pic of the progress soon......
  4. I see a wire your using for the neck. What will you be using to build that up? Regular neck material or something else?

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  5. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    I will use 1 1/4" neck material. The length of the neck in this bird is about 13" from the first moveable vertebrae coming out of the body to the ear hole in the head. I had 7" of neck in the freeze dried head so therefor I will use 5" of neck material to get my neck length correct. Here is the pic of the body with the head and tail all set up........Once you understand the skeletal features of doing bird taxidermy the rest seem to fall into place. You will be able to see this later in the discussion.....

    You can see that the mount is taking shape already. You have already accomplished balance, symmetry and pose by using this method....

    Attached Files:


    RWTAXIDERMY New Member

    2 questions, #1- should the body be level with the ground and if so at what points should be used as a reference to do so?

    #2- Also what is the proper way to attach the tail-fan, I see you already have it attached to the form, i assume you must skin yours different because I usually can not attach the tail-fan till after the skin is on and in proper place.

    I have several more questions, but will ask them as this progresses....Thanks for your time.

    Thanks Rick
  7. stuffr2

    stuffr2 New Member

    For those that "fight" mounting turkeys, PLEASE follow these steps as Harry is showing you. I fought them for a long time until meeting the famous CHEESE. Now I can set up 2 bodies with drumsticks and feet attached, 2 tails and 2 painted heads, all while getting my 2 skins prepped the day before. I have no problem getting 2 birds completely put together, siliconed or caulked, an groomed on the next day by using this method. I know some taxidermists may be tired of hearing "anatomy" and "skeletal structure" in seminars, but if it isn't right on the inside it will NEVER be right on the outside! Thanks for posting Harry, it's nice to get a refresher course from time to time.
  8. A- Fish

    A- Fish Stehling's Taxidermy

    Great idea Harry. Thank you for your time with this !

    Couple of questions:

    1.I see your form is level with the " earth". For a full strut pose, I normally give my birds more tilt down. I modify the tail area on the form to maintain the high spot in the center of the turkey and still have a nice flow of hackle towards the tail. Your thoughts ?

    2. At what point do you add in your crop ?

    3. I normally attach the head directly to the rebuilt crop area...I do this after I inject my caulking through the head area of the bird. My actual neck length on a strutter is only about 3 to 5 inches, depending on how much I want it to show. Your thoughts on this ?

    4. I assemble my form and then put it on the base or limb. I keep the rebuilt drum stick area movable until I get it where I want. Just a different way of doing it.

    Setting the form up before hand is THE bets way to go. Like stillwell said, you can get everything set before hand, and it makes the process faster.

    Thanks again Harry. Great work as always.
  9. Bill Yox

    Bill Yox Active Member

    Harry thanks so much for doing this for us here.
  10. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    Thanks Brian!!!! I see your birds are looking pretty good!!! Keep up the good work!!

    RW Use the portion of the back that is between the humerus attachment and the femur attachment. There is a high point right at the femur attachment and then the body should run down to the tail.....When you look at a strutting turkey you will see the "high" point and then the back hackles will slant downward and THEN back up on the tail.

    I just attach the tail using a u shaped piece of wire bondoed to the end of the quills on the tail... The tail should be an extension of the spinal column and not just stuck on the back of the body so on a strutting turkey the fleshy part of the tail (which includes the tail feathers) will actually be above the back. You can see it in the photo of the set up. One thing to notice is if the proportions of the body are not correct then you will have a hard time pulling the tail undercoverts up high enough to cover the bondo. If this is a problem then the distance from the femur attachment to the end of the body is too long which also means that the distance between the femur and humerus is too close together......

    I have the tail attached just to show the complete set up. I will take it off when I put the skin on that then put it back on. When the bird is sewn up I will shoot some silicone in there and that permanetly attaches the tail....
  11. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    I don't like to tilt the front down. I seem to have problens with getting the full breast look if I do that. If anything, I would tilt it upwards to assist in giving a fuller breast.

    I add my crop sometimes before I put the skin on and sometimes after. If I am doing a comp mount I will put it on first. Commercial work I will mount the bird and then make a cut just above the beard and shoot silicone in to fill the void. You have to make sure that the bird is mostly groomed because once the silicone goes in you have about 20 min. When doing the crop area first, you have to make sure the neck has the proper shape and position because you have to build the crop area right up to the bottom of the wattles on a strut bird. (A shingled strut is the hardest mount in turkey taxidermy. I have never seen one that is totally correct. I am working on some things now to pull off a smoking strut mount so stay tuned. I'll let you guys be the judge)

    The neck length on a turkey is around 13 inches +- depending on size and species. Wether he is strutting, standing, flying doing jumping jacks or whatever the neck is around 13 inches. A shorter neck will give you a stubby looking bird and thus the head will be too close to the humerus attachment. Use the full length neck and get the head out in front of the wings....

    As far as setting up the form. I like to start at the feet and move my way up to the body. I feel that you can always make the mount look convincing EVERY time and quicker. If you have consistent results doing it another way then you should continue.....
  12. Birds Only

    Birds Only New Member

    (1) How long does it take you to set up your form and legs like in the pic posted from start to finish?

    (2) Why gas? Just kidding. Don't answer that. Lol....
  13. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    Birds Only, you're funny!!!

    I can set up the form in an hour tops! Let's say and hour and 15 I can paint the head as well.....
  14. Do you measure each individual birds neck when skinning or do you use the 13 inch neck length on all turkeys? And thanks for all this !! This is good info

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  15. marking...and thank you!
  16. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    As far as neck length, the bigger the bird the longer the neck. I've seen 14 inch necks on some Goulds and then 12 1/2 inch necks on some small Alabama birds so to answer your question you have to take notes on each bird. What I do is weigh each bird when I take it in. This will determine 2 things. First, the size body that I use for this particular bird. I DO NOT UNDERSIZE BODIES!!!! If the bird weighs 19 pounds I use my 1820. If it is smaller say 17 pounds I use the 1517. Secondly, the neck length. A big bird will have a 13 inch or 13 1/2 in neck. Smaller birds will be smaller necked.

    The three most important things in anatomy on turkeys for a mount to come out correct is #1. Neck length. #2 Distance between the humerus and femur attachments. and #3. The distance from the femur attachment to the end of the body. If any of these measurements are off then you will have problems pulling off a smoking mount.......
  17. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    Sew up your turkeys!! Do not pin!!! Pinning doesn't allow you to taxi skin and will give you problems when you want a full breast or pulling up the tail coverts to cover the rump.

    After sewing, you can see that the feather patterns are in place even with NOTHING PINNED and no grooming. If the inside is correct the outside just falls into place.......

    Attached Files:


    RWTAXIDERMY New Member

    is it possible to wire the wings from the last joint to the humerus and instead of inserting wire into the body, maybe drilling 2 holes in the humerus and installing 3 1/2" construction screws? I have only mounted about 3 turkeys in my 7yrs of doing taxidermy, so this is still all new to me. Thanks for all your help Harry!! Thanks again Rick
  19. ElkinsTaxidermy

    ElkinsTaxidermy www.ronelkinstaxidermy.com

    We may NEVER see a shingled strutter that is done CORRECTLY. There is a LOT of twisting and pulling of feather tracts in live birds that MAY not ever be figured out by us mere humans. As you say (roundabout), it hasn't been done yet, although attempted by many. I have seen ONE (Brett DeFreitas' 09' World bird) that was closer than the rest, and TONS of poor attempts. I'd rather see a smokin' smooth breasted strutter than a poorly done shingled strutter. Keep up the good work Harry!!
  20. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    I always wire the wings from the inside. I run the wire out the wrist and into the "hand". It doesn't exit so I don't have exposed wires to deal with. I drill two holes where the butt end of the humerus butts up against the form, one on each side....I also cut the ball of the humerus off since my form incorporates the ball in the mannikin iself. Keep in mind that if you have an open wing mount then you have to deal with the different attachment of the humerus.....