Years ago, my dad took me on a trip to look for hunting land in the mountains of West Virginia, and on one piece of property, the landowner pulled out an old cigar box to convince us how good the hunting was on the property.
It was full of the beards of turkey gobblers he’d killed. As many as he had in there 45 years ago, he must have been some kind of hunter, but I’ve always wondered if there wasn’t a better way to save the precious memories of past hunts better than sticking them in a cigar box and putting it in a desk drawer.
Nine years ago, I discovered a way, thanks to Charles Grantham at Lynches River Outfitters in Friendfield, S.C. He had a handful of beards on display in the lodge, tucked neatly into spent shotgun shells.
All it takes is turkey beards, spent shotgun shells, a drill or reloading kit, some bathroom caulk and rawhide — you’ll get all you ever need from a baseball-glove repair kit available at most sporting goods stores. By snipping the rawhide into lengths, you can tie your beards together into a neat display.
The beard in the photos came from the gobbler above, taken in March 2015 near Bowman, S.C..
1) Get your gobbler’s beard and a spent shotgun shell — hopefully the one that killed him.
2) Take a drill, select the proper-sized bit, and drill out the spent primer. You can pop one out more easily with a shotgun reloading vice.
3) Slip the end of a length of rawhide through the primer hole and tie a knot. Pull the knot down into the empty shell, leaving a length of rawhide hanging out the primer.
4) Using standard bathroom caulk, fill the bottom third of the shell.
5) Push the base of the beard into the shotgun shell until it is in the caulk. How much beard you want hanging out the end of the shell is your choice.
6) The beard/shell display should look like this, with a length of rawhide hanging out of the shell’s primer hole. You can display it by itself, or try the next step….
7) If you want to tie multiple beards together, tie your knot in Step 3 with two different lengths of rawhide so beards can eventually be joined.