The flopping and thrashing of a fine gobbler gradually subsides as you bask in the warm glow of a moment as Dame Fortune's favorite stepson. It's a magical time of wonder, perhaps seasoned by reflection and appreciation of turkey hunting's myriad joys. But soon celebration yields to contemplation and awareness of what lies ahead supplants adrenaline, you face the sometimes demanding task of getting your turkey out of the woods.
Carrying a 20-pound bird, especially if miles of walking in rugged terrain lie ahead, can be quite tiring. Then too, there are considerations such as ensuring that the bird will be in good shape for a taxidermist, protecting tail feathers for a fan mount or use to tie trout flies, and keeping wings pristine so they can be used for wingbone yelpers or fly-down flappers. Most vests feature a capacious pouch suitable for carrying a turkey, but a longbeard conveyed to the truck this way likely will look like it has been exposed to the not-so-tender mercies of the U. S. Postal Service.
The answer is a do-it-yourself turkey tote.
These handy carrying devices come in a variety of forms, but an eminently functional one involves nothing more than a handle and short length of stout cord. The handle can be as simple as a sanded section from a broom or a large dowel, but if you enjoy full utilization of your game, opt for a section of deer antler. A 5- or 6-inch antler segment with little or no curve and sufficient diameter to fit your clenched hand fits the bill perfectly. If you wish, leave a 2-inch portion of a tine, which allows you to place two fingers on either side of the protrusion, in place at the midpoint of the piece of antler. This adds a bit of comfort to the carrying process.
Begin by sawing the requisite section of antler. Next, use a heavy-duty drill to bore a hole through the middle of it then touch up with coarse sandpaper to smooth out rough spots. If you wish, coat the handle with clear epoxy, but personally I prefer the natural patina that time and use produce on the antler.
Next, thread a short section of braided cord through the hole and knot one end to keep it from slipping through the hole. Carefully burn both ends of the cord to prevent unraveling and make a slip loop in the non-handle end. When you enjoy the good fortune of having a turkey to tote, just slip this loop around both of the turkey's legs the spurs and cinch it down.
The cord should be of a length that enables you to carry the turkey over your shoulder in the most comfortable position. Determine your carrying position by placing your arm against your body just below shoulder height. At the outset, allow a bit of extra length, adjusting as necessary. If you want to add distinctive touches, burn or carve your initials on the handle, provide a space to carve tiny notches each time you take a turkey, or even try your hand at scrimshaw. Each time such a turkey tote is used, the hunter amplifies his joy by carrying his bird home with a fine, highly useful accessory.