Considering a Mount
Tyler Shoberg, Associate Editor on 10/15/2014
A FINE MOUNTED duck or goose captures both the beauty of the bird and memory of a hunt. Whether to commemorate a first duck, trip of a lifetime, or handsomely feathered drake, taking the proper steps from the field to the taxidermist will assure your trophy remains wall worthy for years to come.
Specific Specimen: If your heart is set on mounting that first teal your child shot in September, by all means, do it. But the later a bird is killed in the season, the better. Pinfeathers disappear as spring plumage develops, and the fewer pinfeathers a duck has, the nicer the mount will look.
Soft Touch: Waterfowl are tough critters, so soft-mouthed dogs usually aren’t too damaging. Still, if concerned about a dog’s retrieving style, grab the bird yourself. Look for skin rips or loose feathers, too, and make sure it wasn’t crushed. And never wring a crippled duck’s neck if it’s a potential mount. A duck that looks like it went through a meat grinder isn’t meant for the wall. Better luck next time.
Prepare for Success: You can’t plan when a trophy bird will fall from the heavens. But don’t get caught off guard and let a duck or goose spend all morning in mud and marsh muck. Stash a plastic bread bag in your hunting pack for a just-in-case scenario. If you down a bird destined for more than pictures, place the head alongside the body — not tucked under a wing — and slide it in the bag. Then, safely stow the bird in your hunting pack until it can either go to a taxidermist or into a freezer. Under no circumstances should that prized specimen go on a game strap.
Travel Wisely: Congratulations, you made that trip to Alaska and finally bagged a bucket-list king eider. How do you get it home? Before your trip, stash a midsized soft-sided cooler for the ride home. Follow the aforementioned plastic bag method and thoroughly freeze the bird before putting it in the cooler on top of ice packs or other frozen bags of duck meat. This is your carry-on luggage. Trust me, the airline won’t mind, although they might ask what’s in the bag after it goes through the X-ray.