Once you have cut the fan from your turkey to preserve it you have several days before the drying process begins while in the folded position. I would recommend setting the fan as quickly as you can in most cases though. With these two Rio fans I waited approximately 4 days before I was able to set mine after my travels.
To preserve the fan you will need a flat surface for the drying process. Cardboard is ideal for this as you need to use push pins to hold the fan in place. Cardboard will be the easiest method for applying the push pins with little to no effort other than placing them in position.
What you will need:
Find a box or piece of cardboard that is big enough to hold your fan.
Salt (idodized table salt is okay to use as pictured above) to cover the areas of exposed fat tissue.
A cardboard platform to hold your fan.
Push pins to hold your feathers in place during the week long drying process.
How to preserve your fan:
Place cardboard in a safe area for drying. You will need to leave your fan for at least 1 week.
Have your push pins and salt handy. Trim away as much fat from where the fan was cut away as possible before pinning the fan down to the drying board.
Start by placing the fan on the board so that all of the feathers are on the board as pictured above.
From either left to right, or right to left depending on how you work start with the first feather making a straight line across the bottom of the board. Place your first pin into the feather closest to the quill as possible as to hold the feather in place. Take the next feather slightly overlapping the first feather and place a pin just as you did with the first one. You will repeat this process with each feather until all feathers are pinned down and your fan should be full with no gaps between the feathers.
Once the fan is in place and you are happy with the way it looks cover the area where you cut the fan away with salt. Don’t use the salt sparingly. Make sure to cover the entire area for the curing process to begin.
Leave fan in place in a cool, dry area for one week to dry. Once dry you can remove each of the pins from the fan and carefully lift and dump the excess salt. You a small paint brush to remove excess salt as needed.
Your turkey fan is now preserved and you can find your favorite mounting piece to display your trophy.
To preserve your turkey beards simply place them in a zip loc baggie with salt and leave while your fan is drying.