Ya'll know that I'm a big proponent of USE EVERYTHING when it comes to your hunts! Keeping with this philosophy, I decided to cure my own pheasant skins from a recent hunt my husband and I went on. I was first introduced to this idea by one of my fellow Reel Camo Girl Team Members, who first did this with chukar and they looked amazing! I'm so happy with the outcome! They were really worth the extra time it took to skin the pheasants.
This process takes some time and some very good knife skills, I'm warning you before hand! So make sure you set aside plenty of time to remove the skin. After that the process is super easy.
- 1-Box of Borax
- Kosher Salt
- Large Piece of flat cardboard
- Dry Area
- Soft Paint Brush
- Hot glue gun
- Wood Plank or something to mount them on
First start with a fresh pheasant (thawed if frozen). With the breast side up take a very sharp knife and remove the head of the pheasant. Then make a slit from the tail to the neck. Working on one side at a time, take a sharp paring knife and gently remove the skin away from the body. Be careful not to cut through the skin, or else it will not lay right when finished. The wing area will take a bit of work to carefully remove the skin from the wing. When you get to the wing make a slit on the inside of the wing and remove the skin where the thick feathers meet the tip of the wing. You may need to leave a little piece of meat on the tip to make sure the skin and feathers stay intact. This is okay, because when you start to place the Borax on it you will just have to keep the Borax on it a few more days to dry out all that moisture out of the meat.
Once you have removed the skin from both sides of the pheasant, take a spoon and gently scrape the skin to remove any bits of meat that may be attached. Then gently place the skin on the piece of cardboard. This is a crucial step because you place the feathers facing down, you will need to place them how you would like them to permanently be. When you have the skin and feathers in the right position sprinkle some of the Kosher salt (about 1/8 inch thick) over the thick area joints like the wing and tail tips. Then cover the whole skin liberally with Borax. You will want at least 1/4 inch thickness of Borax all over the skinned area. There should be zero skin showing or peaking through the Borax. Then place the birds in a dry area where they won't get disturbed. And let them cure for 1 to 2 weeks. I noticed that mine took almost two weeks to fully cure. When the skin is properly cured there should not be any rancid smell to them. If there is cover it again in Borax mix in some kosher salt and let them cure again for a few more days. When they are properly cured the skin should be firm but not extremely hard, but the bird should be able to keep its form.
Once the skin is cured take a soft paint brush and gently brush the Borax off the skin and feathers.
After the Borax is brushed off the skin, place the skin on the wood plank to get mounted. Place the bird skin side down and place it in the position you would like it to be mounted in. When you are ready to mount the bird start by glueing the tail end first. Don't be afraid to use a lot of hot glue! With one hand hold the top half of the bird in place gently lift the tail end up and place hot glue all over the skin, with extra on the tail part. then gently press the skin down onto the wood. You may need an extra hand to help keep the bird in position while you are gluing. Then repeat the process with the top half of the bird. By gently lifting up the top half placing glue all around the skin and gently pressing down onto the wood. Once the body is secure place some glue under the wings, do to the curve of the wing you won't be able to place glue all over the back of the wing. So place some glue on the top part of the wing and glue them into position. A good tip to remember is to make sure the wood you are going to mount the birds on has hooks on the back for hanging before you glue the bird into place! After they are securely glued to the board you are finished!! Now you can add, Awesome Taxidermist to your resume! ;-)