Okay folks, if you’re the squeamish type, then this post might not be
enjoyable to you, so.. just getting that out there!
About a year ago, Carinna researched how to do a
European Mount (aka skull mount) on a buck that Caleb had shot.
After watching a few videos and reading people’s opinions on the subject,
she bought the supplies and wah-lah, the first skull mount
ever done by one of the Burnett kids! It turned out really nice!
To have a skull mount done by the “pros” costs around $120-$150 (more or less),
but doing it ourselves only costs about $5 – though it does take some time.
If you remember this last deer season, the Lord blessed us with several deer including this guy that came by the tree where I was hunting.
Compared to other states (or even other parts of OK), he’s a not very big, but comparing him to the bucks that we normally see, he’s a one good lookin’ dude,
and I was super excited about trying a skull mount on him!
So, just in case the following pictures are confusing,
let me clarify and say that some of the pictures are of the
skull mount that Carinna did, and some of them are mine.
All of the pictures are after the skull is done,
or at least, right before the skull is done.
Having pictures through the entire process would have been much more helpful for you to understand how this is done, and I seriously thought about
taking step-by-step pictures while I was doing mine,
but somehow…it just didn’t happen.
(You squeamish people that decided to read this post, can thank me later.)
Hopefully next time we’ll get pictures!!
So, here’s my step-by-step list on How to do a Skull Mount.
I’m not sure how much sense it will make (or if it will at all),
unless you’re trying to do one yourself, but here it goes!
(Please pardon me if I accidently leave out any crucial parts to this process.
I’m not an expert, just recalling what I did. = )
*Shoot a buck. Preferably one that has an enormous rack.*
If it’s not enormous, but you are still impressed with the rack…please keep reading.
*After you have skinned the buck and what-not,
cut the head off, and cut the skin off of the head.*
Be sure when you cut the head off, you cut a few vertebras back into the neck, to avoid cutting the skull. Otherwise you’ll eliminate the part of the skull that is necessary if you wish to show it off by hanging it on the wall.
(It’s better to have more skull/spine than you need, because it’s easier to
take more bone off later, than-obviously-try adding any on!)
Also, cut as much meat off from the face as you can.
Hopefully you have a sharp knife. If you don’t, get one.
When you are cutting the meat off, make sure not to slash the bone
with your knife, it will show up on the skull more
than you would think it would when it’s done.
*Cut off as much meat as possible*
This would be the time to cut out the eyes if you haven’t already done so.
The eyes were pretty difficult to get out, but you just have to keep at it…they pop out eventually. (they don’t exactly pop out, I’m just trying to keep up with
my part of the bargain of making people squeamish. =P)
This step is only necessary if you, (like me) put your deer head in the freezer for later because you didn’t have time to do a skull mount right away.
If you have a single electric burner ( like below),
you’ll want to use it outside, or in a shed.
If you don’t have one, and you enjoy living a happy life with your family (and you want to keep it that way) , you might think about getting one. Because. it. stinks!
I know my mom would NEVER allow the smell (nor the sight) of a half cooked, greasy, gamey meat aroma in the house… (the smell of the deer tongue we cooked one year was not enjoyed, much less the smell of this!)
You’ll also need a very large pot like the one below,
which will need to be big enough that when you fill it with water,
and stick the skull in, the water covers the entire skull.
*Place the pot on a burner outside or in a shed. Fill the pot with water, then squirt a little dawn dishwashing soap in the water to help cut the grease*
*Place the skull in the water*
If you can, try to keep the antlers out of the water.
I had to wire mine up so that the antlers were out of the water,
but the whole skull was submerged…
My antlers still sat in the water some, and if you look close at my skull mount,
you can see they darkened at the bottom.
This is what it should look like below. (It’s a stock photo.. by the way.)
*Bring water to a slight simmer, and keep it there*
NEVER let the water boil or else the bones will separate.. and no more skull mount! Mine boiled for just a tiny bit, and some of the nose bones
really started getting loose.
But also, if the water is not hot enough it will take forever!
*Using some of the following; a dull knife ( like a butter knife.), a sharp knife, a brass brush,** long nosed pliers **, a toothbrush, wire, and whatever else seems like it will do the job, clean the meat off every couple of hours as the meat continues to cook and become tender.*
The process of cooking and cleaning will take ALL day if not longer! If it’s taking too long, and you can’t check it or mess with it for longer than 3 hours or so, (for ex. going to bed), just turn the burner off and start the next day.
I did that several times.
The water is going to get gunky, greasy and gross.
But don’t gag, gingerly get rid of all that grime!
You could garnish your yard by dumping this ghastly garbage on it,
but, oh goodness, this gal should quit gabbing, and make you grateful
by getting on with this… post.
*Ahem* (sorry it’s been a long day.)
But to be serious…
*The water will need changed at least once or twice, it gets really disgusting
( I dumped it in the ditch, I recommend you dump it
as far away from your house as possible.)
Also, you’ll need to make sure you keep the pot full of water
because it’s going to start evaporating.
You want the water to cover all of the skull as much as possible.*
As the meat loosens, some of it will come off by itself, but most of it
you’ll have to hand scrape. Just sit down and scrape, pull, and yank!
*Another thing is that some of the teeth are likely to fall out,
save them to glue in later.*
Make sure that the teeth aren’t in the water when you dump it out!
The lower jaws will separate and come off, you can keep them if you want.
By looking at the teeth on the lower jaws you can see how old the buck is.
I ended up throwing mine away.
*Okay, see those thin little bones up in the nose? ( above )
Well, there will be cartilage/meat all wound around those bones..and it’s a pain, because you don’t want to tear or break the bones, and they’re very fragile.
So, make sure to be careful, but thorough when getting the meat out of there!*
The brains are a whole ‘nother matter, they’re goopy, rubbery, and chunky, and you only have a little hole (see below) to try to scoop them out of. If you’re careful, you can bang the back of the skull on a padded but firm surface- like a towel folded on top of a cabinet-. This will help the brains to fall out by themselves.
*Another biggie is to be super careful with the long nose bones, they brake very easily! Especially since they are a little loose from the hot water. *
Be very, very thorough in getting all of the meat, brains, and skin off!!
It will be very awkward, but a toothbrush will be necessary for getting all the meat and gunk off from around the teeth.
Hey, enjoy it.. how often do you get to brush a deer’s teeth! (Haha.)
*When you think you have all the meat cleaned off, go over it again, and again, and sure, why not, go over it again! It is super important to get it CLEAN!*
You can clean the antlers some if you want…just my personal preference, but I didn’t mind a little blood and dirt still on them.
When all the meat is cleaned off, get a large (preferably white) tub.
This is the one thing you will be sure and need to buy. (below)
We got ours from SALLY– beauty and hair supply store.
Make sure and buy the crème, not the liquid.
I accidently got the liquid, not the crème, and I had to soak it in
paper towels and lay it on my skull.
It still worked, but Carinna’s was much easier with the crème.
*First get tape or little plastic bags (or both) and cover the bottom of your antlers.*
*Use a paint brush and thoroughly cover the skull with the crème. *use gloves*
Let it sit. Every couple of hours, do another coat. I would use this stuff very generously! If you think you need two bottles, get two bottles!
By the way, after you use the stuff on your deer skull,
and you see how white it makes it
(or, like me, you get some on your hands, and feel how much it burns,
and how it turns your skin white)
you’ll wonder WHY in the world would people EVER
put this stuff on their hair!??!
Make sure you get this crème all over, under, and in the little places on your skull. Including the teeth that fell out.
Once your bottle is gone, (or the skull is a white as you want it.)
rinse the skull off and take the tape off of the antlers.
Now you can glue the deer’s teeth back in. I used super glue.
Then sit back and admire the beauty that you never thought would be,
in a perfectly white…skull.
And, for your sake, I hope you have room in your house –or that the main person who decorates the house… has the same tastes as you do =P.
Because, mine is now nicely wrapped up in the storage part of the attic.
And it won’t be hung up until either Carinna and I were to be the only girls in our room, or unless mother dear decided to decorate or lovely home with a cabin look (Never going to happen). =)
I don’t really mind too much because I’m afraid my pride would be all too grateful to whoever commented on it.
By the time it gets the opportunity to be hung up, and in it’s full glory,
it will be so long since I killed it.. it will seem like old news.
I really enjoyed getting to learn how to do this project!
And I’m hoping I’ll get to try it out some more! =D
“Wherever you are- be all there.”