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How to preserve your feathers?


Hey guys,

I shot a turkey last Saturday, and I want to use the wing and tail feathers for fletching. How do I keep the bugs off of them for as long as possible? I was originally going to preserve my tail fan, but then I didn't put borax on the fleshy part that the tail feathers are naturally attached to, nor did I put the tail fan in the freezer to stop that fleshy part from rotting and attracting flies, that laid their eggs, which hatched into maggots. It was stupid of me. I endeavor not to make that mistake again. I pulled the tail feathers out of that fleshy 'knob'. I didn't notice any maggots eating the feathers yet, so I put them in a garbage bag with my wing feathers and put them in the freezer for the time being. What would you do with the feathers if you were me? Do I need to do anything special to them before I put them on an arrow? Do I do it after I fletched an arrow? Do I need to do something before I put them on an arrow and after? Your replies are greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Pat B:
I keep mine in a frig in the basement with furs, etc. You can store them in a plastic bag with borax in it to prevent bug damage.

Dropping them in the freezer for extended time isn't a bad idea. The freezing for longer periods of time dessicates the insects and even their larvae/eggs. It will also dry out the feathers in the long run and I have found that the feathers will strip better if they get steamed before attempting. I just set up the teakettle on the burner and get a good stream of steam blasting from the spout. By running the feather through the steam it plumps the barbules/web of the feather AND moisturizes the central spine.

I strip 99% of my feathers for arrows and find that steaming them takes some of the brittleness out of the feather. Fewer feathers break off early and I almost always get a full strip from tip of the feather all the way down to the sip of the quill.


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