In the spring of 2000, Paul Napper shot his first Rio Grande turkey.
While getting the feathers mounted, he closely watched as the taxidermist worked. But Napper was frustrated to have waited several months for his taxidermy to be completed.
When he finally got his turkey, Napper took a pattern of the mount the taxidermist used and figured he could duplicate it and mount his own.
“After watching him mount the feathers, I said to myself, ‘I can do that,’” Napper said.
A native of Allen, Napper has been hunting turkeys for 13 years and has harvested 15 toms. He turned part of his garage into an area where he could cut out patterns and mount feathers.
From start to finish, Napper can finish a project in two to three hours. But he doesn’t get into a hurry. He hasn’t gotten around to mounting the feathers from all his successful hunts, but enjoys the time it takes to craft each one.
The key to his hunting success is his 40-year-old mahogany Lynch turkey caller, which has attracted most of the turkeys he has shot.
“With that call, I’ve gotten a few that were so big, they couldn’t fit into my hunting vest,” he said.
He goes on two turkey-hunting trips each year. Napper and his wife currently turkey hunt near Mason. In the mornings he gets to hunt and in the evening, he is able to relax and enjoy the town with his wife.
He said he likes the Mason area because it’s a private area that’s not crowded with hunters.
Napper’s process to mounting his turkey feathers is a simple, yet careful process.
After a successful hunt, Napper takes his turkey and carefully cuts each feather off, while scrapping off any skin left behind. Some people use a solution such as Borax to help remove any skin or meat left behind.
He then cuts each feather at an angle and places them on the wooden pattern in the same order they came off the bird. Napper then carefully hot glues each feather to the board, making the fan of the feathers look as it appeared naturally. Lastly, the beard is glued to the bottom of the finished mount.