So your deer season was a success and now you have another great buck to go with the other four already on the wall. The buck is a good one but no better than any of your other mounts so the question arises. Do I fork over the $450 to have this nice eight-pointer mounted? The economy has hit everyone and years ago that buck would have went straight to the taxidermist for a full shoulder mount and hung next to the others in the man cave or garage. Today however money is a little tighter and it just don't make sense to pay that much for a mount. There is an alternative and it is the european skull mount. You can send your skull off to a taxidermist if you want but that will be a hundred dollar bill so why not do your own. It's really easy to do and the results will be just as good as the taxidermist. Here are the steps to creating a great mount and allow you to display your buck proudly with the others.
The first thing is to remove the skull from the neck with hacksaw or sawzall. You can leave the hide on the skull if you like but removing it will speed up the boiling process. Removing the hide from the skull is recommended and is not that difficult to do. Once the skull is ready you will need a pot large enough to submerge the skull completely making sure not to submerge the antler bases or they will discolor. If this does happen you can color the antler bases with wood stain to match.
It is recommended that this process is done outside. You will need a burner to heat the pot of water to boil the skull. A turkey fryer is perfect if you have one or a propane burner on your grill. I used my camp stove to produce the mount in the photo and a large heavy duty pot I got at goodwill. Once you have the pot ready and the water warm add some Borax and stir. You can do this with just water but the borax helps to degrease and shrink the meat in those hard to reach cavities like the nasal passages and brain cavity.
This process can take several hours so go catch the first half of the football game then check your skull at halftime. At this time, using a knife, scrape the meat from the skull. No need to get too aggressive just remove what comes off easy then re-submerge the skull for another half of football. Be sure to add a little water that was lost in the process and you can add a little more Borax at this time as well. After the game is over return to the skull and again scrape what you can. At this time I use a water hose to spray out the nasal cavities and all the little pockets where it would take so long to remove the meat. The pressure from the water hose makes this process easier and quicker as well. This is the time to remove the brain from the brain cavity. The borax shrinks the brain and will make it easier to remove from the small hole in the back of the skull. A metal coat hanger is a great tool for this step. Return the skull to the boiling water for a couple more hours. By now the lower jaws may have come loose just put them in the boiling water as well along with any teeth that might have fallen out during the process.
Now the skull is almost finished. Remove the skull from the boiling water one last time and inspect closely for any remaining meat and clean the skull thoroughly. If there is any meat still attached to the skull just boil a little longer. Once the skull is completely free of meat and cartilage and the brain cavity is clean it is time to glue the teeth and lower jaw in place. I have yet to lose any teeth but I know people that have so just be sure to glue the teeth in place before gluing the lower jaw. It is fairly obvious where the jaw connects so just trial fit the lower jaw then add a small amount of super glue at the contact points and hold in place until dry. Repeat for the other jaw and set aside for a while before handling, to allow the glue to completely set up.
There is one more step you may or may not want to accomplish and that is to bleach your skull. The skull, with this article, was not bleached. Bleaching the skull is a simple task but one of personal preference. This process with the Borax seems to bleach the skull nicely so I skip this step myself but if you prefer a little whiter skull here is what you will need to accomplish. First you will need some peroxide. You can't use the hydrogen peroxide most of us keep around the house you will need at least 40% peroxide by volume. You can get this at hair salons for pretty cheap. Place the skull in a plastic tote or one of those cheap turkey cookers from the grocery store Pour the 40% peroxide in the container and using a small paint brush just paint the skull thoroughly with the peroxide. Be sure to wear gloves during this process and maybe even some eye protection just to be safe. Make sure you get the peroxide in every nook and cranny so that the whitening is uniform throughout your skull. For those problem areas that just will not whiten use a paper towel and lay it on the problem area and saturate with the peroxide and let stand for several minutes and check. Continue this process until the skull is whitened throughout.
Another step I skip but is very popular is painting the skull with Elmer’s glue. This process gives the skull a bit of a satin finish and helps to seal the skull and strengthen it as well. You want to use just regular Elmer’s glue but add about 50% water to thin the glue. Paint the glue on evenly getting into all the cavities again so it all looks uniform. The glue will also help hold the teeth in and will fill any cracks in the bone which makes it much easier to dust later on.
To display your skull you can purchase a nice plaque for around $40 or just hang it on a hook on the wall works too. Another option, if you're handy with a saw and some wood, is to make your own. The european mount is a great way to preserve those memories of the hunt and save some money. It is also a great reason to get out of the house and create something you can be proud of and will last forever on your wall.