Turkey season opens April 15.
Chris Parsons, owner of Blue Mountain Taxidermy, shown here with a bobcat, also prepares turkeys. He is the only taxidermist in La Grande who works with turkeys. - DICK MASON/The Observer
It means an eagerly awaited day, a rite of spring, is on the horizon.
It also means that an unfortunate fact will soon come to light again — turkey hunters occasionally are a paradoxical lot.
Some will spend countless hours practicing calls, scouting and more to prepare for a hunt. However, following a successful hunt they may make a small oversight, one that can prevent their turkey from in effect, being frozen in time in full splendor.
The hunters in question fail to protect the feathers of their birds so that they can be mounted in a way that maximizes their striking appearance.
“Be careful not to sling it over your shoulder,’’ Parsons said.
A hunter carrying a bird out over his shoulder can inflict major feather damage. Hunters instead should gently carry the bird out with two hands.
“Pack it out with the softest hands possible,’’ Parsons said. “Be gentle with them. Remember that how you handle them will have a big impact on the end product.’’
Hunters are encouraged to fire at the head or neck since this keeps the feathers from being damaged. Hunters should not worry about damaging the head since taxidermists always replace them with a plastic one even if it is not damaged, Parsons said.
Blood should always be a major concern since it will stain feathers. Hunters are encouraged to wipe as much off as soon as possible with a damp cloth. Removing blood is particularly important if one intends to freeze the bird before bringing it to a taxidermist.
“When blood freezes, it reshapes the feathers,’’ Parsons said.
Hunters can also protect their bird’s feathers from blood by wrapping its head in a towel. This helps by keeping blood from the head and mouth from reaching the feathers.
Parsons is the only taxidermists in La Grande who works with turkeys. He said they are more challenging than many other birds because of their size. The turkeys are prepared in a variety of poses. The flying mount is the most popular among hunters because it shows the most color and feathers.
The taxidermist describes turkeys as rewarding to work with because it gives him a chance to enhance their appearance.
Parsons explained that turkeys are often dirty whey they are brought in, meaning that their colors are obscured. Once he is able to clean them their striking hues are much more prominent and shiny.