Showing off Your Kill - Caping Style

For many hunters, the thrill of hunting is all about the chance to show off some of your kills. Some hunted animals lend themselves easily to being made into trophies, like deer and moose, but other animals are a little trickier. In fact, one of the hardest animals to figure out a way to display is a turkey. If you are a turkey hunter interested in making a trophy out of your latest kill, then caping might be for you. Caping is relatively easy to do and much less expensive than having a trophy mounted. In fact, unlike mounting a deer head, you can easily do the caping process yourself at home.

If you want to give caping your turkey a try, the first thing you need to do is completely skin the bird. To do this, grab the top of your turkeys head and run a very sharp knife under the skin on the back of the neck, where the feathers on the back meet the turkeys head. You can follow that incision down the back of the bird, all the way to tail feathers. The ideal strip you should be cutting off the back here is about two inches wide, but once you start cutting, you will see how the pattern of the feathers come together and a natural place to cut.

Once you reach the tail feathers, continue cutting the tail skin until you reach the end of that row and remove all of the feathers and skin you have carved - make sure you remove the tail skin completely.

From that swath you have removed from the bird, pick away at the flesh and fat that is attached to skin. This process may require the use of a smaller sharp knife and a spoon to scoop away large pieces. Make sure to remove as much flesh and fat as possible; if you leave these things on, you final product will not come out right, and it may have an unpleasant smell to it.

With the fat and flesh removed, take your piece of skin (it will be wet at this point), with the feathers still attached, and drench it in Borax to kill the germs. Now, you will need a good-sized piece of cardboard and some straight pins. Pin the top of your skinned portion of turkey to the cardboard, and then work your way down, adjusting the skin to your desired look - experiment with spreading it out and pulling it back in tights. When you have it in the position you want, go around the skinned portion pinning it securely to the cardboard. Once you have the skin positions correctly, you can start working with the feathers to create a design you like. Fanning the feathers out around the bottom, using a pocket knife to carefully work each one into position, is a common position for caping, but you can create any look you want. Make sure to pin each feather when you have it in the place that you want.

Now, it is just a matter of waiting. Let the cape sit for at least three weeks, and then shake it so that the excess Borax falls off. You can cut around the cardboard so that is it not visible around the cape if you like. Many people also cut a piece of wood to match the cape so that it can easily be mounted on the wall. The cape should stick to the cardboard on its own at this point, so you can remove the pins if you like, but if they are an unobtrusive, they give an extra level of security to your work.