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Shipping Your Turkey

Courtesy of NWTF­­
Photos by­ Matt Lindler
Story by Jason­ Gilbertso­n

Preparing your Turkey for the Taxidermist



Part One: Deep Freeze Transportation

National award-winning wild t­urkey taxidermist Cally Morris of Hazel Creek Taxidermy visited the NWTF's national headquarters the other day. We were lucky enough to convince him to demonstrate how he prepares birds in the field for a trip to the taxidermy shop. Morris' Green Castle, Mo., business takes in 900 to 1,000 turkeys each year, shipped by turkey hunters from all over North America.

Part one of this two-part series applies to hunters who have taken a turkey and will have access to a cooling unit before the turkey is shipped.

To get your wild turkey ready for the freezer before shipping, follow these simple tips:

Bringing the bird from the field:

  • Take care of the bird from the second you shoot it.
  • Treat the turkey delicately, like a piece of glass. Grab the turkey by the legs or handle the body, don't grab it by the head or drag it on the ground. Keep the feathers from getting bent or dirty. Also, when transporting the turkey, lay it on its belly, not its back.
  • When you get to camp and you're ready to package the gobbler for shipping, lay it on its back and be careful to keep blood from dripping on the feathers. If blood does get on the feathers in the field, you can wash them off in a­ creek or back at camp.

Preparing the bird for freezing and transport:



If the head is bleeding, stick paper towels in the turkey's mouth.

Roll the head in paper towels. Fold towels over the head and tape them closed.



Tuck the head inside the wing.

Fold the wings tight against the turkey's body.



Pre-cut a piece of cardboard to place over the tailfeathers and feet. Do not tie the feet and feathers together for any reason inside the cardboard. (This is one of the most important steps . . . kinked tailfeathers are difficult to repair.)

Put the turkey headfirst inside a large plastic garbage bag. Roll the bag over in a tear-drop shape, handling the turkey by only its legs or main body. Tape the bag.




Fit the cardboard around the tailfeathers and feet. Tape or staple the cardboard into position.

Lay the turkey in the freezer on its side. In 36 to 48 hours, the turkey will be frozen solid and ready to ship.



Take the turkey out of the freezer and wrap it in bubble wrap.

Set the turkey headfirst in a box. You want the turkey to fit tight in the box to prevent a lot of moving around.You can usually find a box at a local grocery store, Wal-Mart or moving company. If there are old labels on the box, tear them off, or mark them with a black marker, so they do not confuse the shipping route.

Shipping Tips

  • Always ship your turkey to the taxidermist on a Monday if possible, and never on a Thursday. If you send it out in the later part of the week, there's a chance it could get misdirected and sit in a terminal over the weekend, thawing out and ruining your prize. A wild turkey will take about two days to dethaw.
  • Depending on where you ship the turkey, expect to pay $15 to $20 in packing supplies and $35 to $45 for shipping costs.
  • Be sure you have the taxidermist's proper address. Never ship to a P.O. box. Ship only to a street address.
  • Include in the box with your turkey: Your name, address and phone number, and be ready to discuss the pose of your wild turkey mount.

Return Shipment of Turkey

Your turkey will be shipped back via UPS for an affordable shipping and handling fee. Call for details.

Floor Mounts

  • Open up the top.
  • Remove the screws and support rods (support rods pull straight out) from the turkey.
  • Unscrew the tail and take out of the box.
  • Unscrew the turkey from the bottom of the box.
  • Take the turkey out of the box.
  • Re-attach the tail by pushing the wires into the holes on the back of the turkey. Push the tail against the manikin and super glue or hot melt glue the loose skin to the tail.

Limb Mounts

  • Follow the instructions through step #5 (above).
  • Take the limb out of the 2nd­ box and hang on the wall.
  • Take the nuts off the bottom of the leg rods, hold turkey by the legs and insert rods in the limb. Tighten the nuts up on rods.
  • Follow step #6 (above).

If your turkey head gets scratched during shipment, please call and we will send you some paint to touch up the turkey head. If you have any questions, please give us a call.