Sticky European Mount Basics

QuietButDeadly

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
As many of you are aware, my son Firedog201 and I have a booth at the DDC and a couple of other outdoor shows each year where we sell plaques for Euro Mounts. Our display consists of skulls that I cleaned mounted on RacPlaques. At every show, we get asked how we get the skulls so clean and white all the time. I do enjoy talking about skull cleaning but given the number of people at the show, it is not practical to go into a lot of detail everytime I am asked. So I wrote up a one page introduction to Euros that contains some basic info on what is involved that we can hand out.

There seems to be a lot of interest in Euros and I like that. There is also a lot of how to info floating around. The following is what we hand out at the shows. It is not intended to be a complete guide but rather and introduction to the main 3 methods that are used. It is aimed at someone who has expressed an interest in doing one of their own. These basic processes apply not only to deer but to cleaning skulls of other critters as well.

If you are already cleaning skulls and have a process that works for you and produces a result that you are happy with, keep on keeping on. If you are interested and want to give it a try, I encourage you to do so.
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Here are some basics......

There are 3 basic ways to get the meat off the bone. Each has pros and cons. They are boiling/simmering, maceration and flesh eating beetles. More on each later.
There are others but most are done by one of these methods.

First there are some things you should not do.

1) Do NOT boil. It can damage the bone and cause flaking as well as setting the grease so you can not get it out.
2) Do not use Mamas good pots and do not do it on the kitchen stove.
3) Do NOT use any product on bone that contains Chlorine. It will make the bone soft and flaky and will continue to damage it over time.

There are 4 major process involved regardless of the method you chose.
1) Skin and remove as much meat as you can including the eyes, tongue and brain
2) Remove the remaining soft tissue by simmering, beetles or maceration
3) Get the grease out of the bone commonly called degreasing
4) Whiten the skull using hydrogen peroxide

Another optional process is sealing the bone after it is white. Some do this while others do not. Your choice but if you do, make sure the sealer you use will not yellow over time.

Most people start out cooking the meat off after they get it skinned and prepped and some leave the brain in but I advise you to remove it. It is a source for lots of grease. The more you get off before simmering, the quicker the rest will come off. You may need to change the water after a lot of the meat/grease comes off. Add some clear dawn with bleach alternative (or other detergent of your choice without chlorine added) to the second batch of water to help degrease. Some places will have to be picked or scraped or it will take forever to come clean. Minimize the time in the hot water and do not get it hot enough to boil.

You obviously do not have the flesh eating beetles but you may find someone in your area that will beetle clean the skull for $25 or $30 if you have it prepped. Then you can get it back and do the rest yourself.

Maceration is probably the easiest and it only requires a bucket big enough to submerse the skull, warm water (approx 90F and time; an aquarium heater to keep it warm) and a week to ten days. It needs to be kept where dogs/varmints can not get to it and it will smell very bad. Bacteria will grow in the water and the soft tissue will rot away. Maceration will also make degreasing easier but be careful when empting out the stinking contents of the bucket. The nose bones will likely fall off and some teeth may fall out. Don't pour them out. After about 10 days, you should be able to hose off any soft tissue that is still hanging on. Again, be careful not to wash teeth away.

Maceration and beetle cleaning cause less damage to the bone.

Once you have the soft tissue off, it is time to degrease. Submerse the skull in warm water, again 90F to around 125F, the aquarium heater again, with clear dawn with bleach alternative (the bleach alternative is actually very weak peroxide). You will see grease come to the surface over time. Change the water about every 3 days or when it gets cloudy. Some skulls take a couple of weeks, some take a couple of months to get the grease out. When the water stays clear for a few days after a change, it may be degreased enough. Not getting the grease out is the number one reason skulls get yellow over time.

Now you are ready to whiten. Most hobbyists either buy the peroxide in brown bottles from Wally World or get 40 volume peroxide and basic white from Sally Beauty Supply. Brown bottle is 3% peroxide and will work but is slow. 40 volume is 12% peroxide and works better but wear latex or nitrile gloves and eye protection. You can submerse the skull but it takes a lot of peroxide to do that. My recommendation is to mix the 40 Volume with the basic white powder to a paste consistency and paint it on the skull. If you get it on the antlers it will bleach them also. Let is set, preferably in the sun until it dries and then rinse it off with warm water and let it dry. If it has yellow spots after it is dry, you may have to degrease again and then repeat the paste. Using the paste multiple times will not hurt the bone so do it until you are satisfied with the results.

And last but not least, if I have not confused you enough, go to www.taxidermy.net/forums

There is a section dedicated to Skulls and Skeletons. You do not have to join to use the SEARCH function. Use advanced search so you only get threads in the Skulls and Skeletons section and search for Maceration or boiling skulls or beetle cleaning or whitening......you can read for days on end.

I know it sounds a little complicated and even a bit intimidating but it can be very rewarding. Everyone had to start somewhere.

Good luck with however you decide to proceed and you know how to reach me.
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If you get started and want to talk , PM me your phone number. I can talk faster than I type.
 

longrifle

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
Excellant post! And I'll add pretty doggone unselfish of you QBD....
I'm gonna hook up with you soon for a wall plaque for an old skull I did the hard way years ago.
 

pass-thru

Guest
I have to disagree with the "do not boil." Bring it to a boil, simmer it as long as necessary to take the meat off....easy and turns out great. I use basic white with peroxide and the ones I've done myself have turned out better than the ones I paid the taxidermist for.
 

Firedog

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
I have to disagree with the "do not boil." Bring it to a boil, simmer it as long as necessary to take the meat off....easy and turns out great. I use basic white with peroxide and the ones I've done myself have turned out better than the ones I paid the taxidermist for.

Per the original post -

If you are already cleaning skulls and have a process that works for you and produces a result that you are happy with, keep on keeping on. If you are interested and want to give it a try, I encourage you to do so.

but I know from experience that boiling can damage the bone. I have one that I got too hot and left in to long because it was being difficult.. had to paint it.. looks like :donk.. but I learned something.
 

blgoose

Guest
QBD is the man when it comes to skulls, he has been a wealth of knowledge and I greatly appretiate it.
 

Dave

Guest
great post QBD was wondering where to find the strong peroxide , never thought of a beauty shop. thanxs for the info . check out my album, skull .
 

JAB

Guest
Here's a couple I have recently done myself.


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2j4qagk.jpg

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perry

Old Mossy Horns
Great post I wish this is what I would have done with a lot of the bucks I shot instead of just cutting the antlers off. Thanks for sharing.
 

bhoward

Guest
I'll add, if you accidently bleach the antler, go to the furniture store or Lowe's and get a furniture marker. They have different shades, so try to find one close to your antler colors. Usually you will only have bleached the bottom, and you can apply multiple coats to darken it until it looks natural.
 

JF.whitetail.crzy

Guest
step dad getting a 11 pointer euro. mount. but they have this stuff were you get the skull in all camo. its beast
 

twinrivers

Guest
My question is, what is the best way to get the brain out of the skull? I'm doing one right now with the water bucket deal, but I can't get the brain without chopping the skull up it seems.
 

twinrivers

Guest
A little update, I finished my first euro, now I am working on my other buck from this season.
 

25contender

Twelve Pointer
Great thread

I have a few and do them myself. Good info here. A few ways to get it done...:D...Mark

Can you tell I like European mounts!!

DSC00983.jpg


DSC00979a.jpg
 

bricks

Guest
Here is something new that we started using on our deer skulls:

www.camodipkit.com

It is a DIY camo dip kit that you can use on your skulls, or even guns and bows...
 

Dave

Guest
I have spoke to someone about what clear finish you can use on the Antlers , looking to buy it but can't remember what it was .
 

Firedog

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
Even if you paint it, it you have not gotten the grease out the paint will flake and it will turn yellow. We have gotten in several yellow skulls to try and "restore" only to find out that they were painted. I have yet to see one that did not look artificial when painted.. I am sure a good artist with an airbrush could do it but you are not going to get the natural bone look from a spray can.

Any yes I have one like that. Got it too hot and the bone flaked.. about to cut the antlers off and do an antler mount on them.
 

92rscamaro

Six Pointer
So say someone didn't read this until they already boiled it. Is there anyway to try and save some of the bone from cracking more or falling off as it ages?
 
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