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I want to do a european mount. I don't want to do the boiling because I don't think my stomach or my neighbours could handle the smell. I have heard a few alternatives that I have never tried but sound like they may be worth a try. Reviews also say n

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  • #16
    I doubt you'll find a taxidermist who will do a real good job for $75.

    My daughter does quite a lot of business and charges about $200 if mounted on a plaque ... and not much less if it's not on a plaque.

    It's usually a combination of treatments that gives the best result. Beetles will not totally clean everything. Most important thing is to get all the brain out first. The fat in the brain will stain the skull and it's almost impossible to remove. DO NOT use regular household bleach. What's left after the beetles are done with their work is removed by boiling. Use a small amount of lye (1/4 cup to three or four gallons water) and that will help lift the fat out. Skim this off the top as the pot is boiling. Avoid getting the antlers in the broth or they may become discoloured. Pull off any remaining flesh carefully. Usually the stuff around the antler buttons is most stubborn. My daughter then makes a paste from powdered peroxide that she buys bulk from a beauty shop. The paste is painted on the skull (avoid getting it on antlers!), wrapped and plastic wrap and left overnight. The peroxide is then washed off CAREFULLY (it will instantly bleach anything white, including your clothes). Often some areas require a second coat of peroxide paste to even up the whiteness. The nasal bones always come out intact with this process.

    Some so-called taxidermists (the $75 variety in particular) clean the skulls with power washer. That is the worst technique as it almost always blows away some of the nasal bones. The brine vat technique does produce good results but often requires months in the tank. And is VERY, VERY smelly! Only taxidermists who live miles away from anyone in the country employ this method ... or they get shot by their neighbours. No one will do that job for $75 because it is way too labour intensive. And noxious.

    We remove the brains with a steel rod about ten inches long with a one inch eye bent into one end. Put the rod in a power drill, shove it into the brain cavity through the spinal cord hole, flip the switch for drill ... and stand back! Brain comes out quickly but it is messy. Best to be wearing rain gear.

    Very often the bridge of nose separates despite best efforts. No big deal. When everything is finished, simply glue the nose with SuperGlue and compress together with plastic ties till glue is set.

    Click image for larger version

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    Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 11-03-2019, 12:28 AM.

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    • #17
      Try the "Buck Boiler".
      Easy, peasy. Just follow the instructions.
      A hundred bucks + shipping (and about five bucks worth of car wash quarters! LOL!) and you can Euro mount anything you kill!

      If you boil the skull at to high a temperature, the skull bones will fall apart. The "Buck Boiler" holds the water at the perfect temperature.
      I wrapped the base of the antlers in tin foil so they wouldn't discolor.
      When the instructions say, "start with hot water", they ain't whistlin' Dixie! I didn't! Took half a day to get up to temperature.
      Took about 36 to 48 hours to "cook" everything.
      Then a trip to the car wash, unless you happen to own a power washer.

      I tried the beetle method.
      The beetles won't eat at low temperatures, to maintain the proper temperature for the beetles to remain active, the skull will become rancid before it's totally clean.
      The "boil" method works best.
      Beetles or boil, there will still be hand work to be done after the power wash.

      https://www.cabelas.com/product/On-T...er/1089654.uts

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      • #18
        Originally posted by FirstBubba View Post
        Try the "Buck Boiler".
        Easy, peasy. Just follow the instructions.
        A hundred bucks + shipping (and about five bucks worth of car wash quarters! LOL!) and you can Euro mount anything you kill!

        If you boil the skull at to high a temperature, the skull bones will fall apart. The "Buck Boiler" holds the water at the perfect temperature.
        I wrapped the base of the antlers in tin foil so they wouldn't discolor.
        When the instructions say, "start with hot water", they ain't whistlin' Dixie! I didn't! Took half a day to get up to temperature.
        Took about 36 to 48 hours to "cook" everything.
        Then a trip to the car wash, unless you happen to own a power washer.

        I tried the beetle method.
        The beetles won't eat at low temperatures, to maintain the proper temperature for the beetles to remain active, the skull will become rancid before it's totally clean.
        The "boil" method works best.
        Beetles or boil, there will still be hand work to be done after the power wash.

        https://www.cabelas.com/product/On-T...er/1089654.uts
        We never boil our skulls that long. Actually, one needs to keep the water just barely boiling or less. I have an old pressure cooker pot (without lid) that I used to cook the skulls. Have only had one very large whitetail that wouldn't drop in completely. Usually not a problem keeping the antlers out of water. We usually use plastic wrap taped on with duct tape to protect them but even when antlers have slipped in the soup they don't seem to get discoloured. Again, use lye in the broth and it will bring out the fatty oils in brain cavity and nasal areas that will discolour the skull. The fat rises to top as foam and skim it off. Boiling for a couple of hours generally does the trick. Power wash will blow away many of the fine nasal bone structures. Some folks don't care about that. Matter of preference. Yes, the bugs have to be kept at room temperature. Ours are kept in the laundry room in basement adjacent to my bedroom. I rarely notice any smell and not for long. The key there is to peel off as much meat as possible before throwing in to beetles. Get the brains and eyes out. I even dig out ear cartilage but that can be a pain. After the beetles are finished I leave the skulls hanging in utility sink for a few hours and shake them often. Most larvae will fall out and can be put back in the bin with the tribe. It's the larvae that do the cleaning work, not the beetles. I suppose housefly maggots will work but I suspect much, much slower. Also, keeping houseflies captive is more of a problem because they fly. This particular beetle does not fly. Not that I have ever seen anyway. We use a large Rubbermaid tub with a panel cut out in the cover that's enclosed with duct taped fine mesh screen for breathing. The biggest problem has been keeping flies and mites out of the beetle bin. They can cause havoc with the beetles. Easy prey for fly maggots and mites. Best to freeze the heads or almost freeze them, then remove for thawing BUT KEEP HEADS ENCLOSED IN GARBAGE BAG until ready to work on them. Strip as much meat as possible as quickly as possible and then immediately drop into the covered beetle tub. Don't leave the heads out anywhere where flies or mites can get at them before going in the beetle tub. Keeping the beetles going is a genuine hassle but they do the best job per unit of time involved. The brine vats work about as well but that is a terrible stinky and lengthy process. It can take months.

        Euro mounts, when done properly, are labour intensive. Much more than one would think. The expert taxidermist outside of town here simply will not bother with Euro mounts any more. He refers any of those clients to my daughter. Formerly he used the brine vat tank method but it was just too smelly for his wife to tolerate. And she WOULD NOT have the beetles on the place. For some reason she thinks they can attack and eat her alive. Pffft!

        So far we haven't had a client ask for a moose Euro mount. The way their heads are constructed I simply cannot see how it could be done. Would require a small sealed room for the beetles. Or a custom made sealed box. Then I have no idea how one would boil off the residue. Moose antlers grow out the side of their skulls so not possible to simply drop the skull in a pot. I'm sure I could figure out something but it would be a very expensive proposition. Doing cap mounts for those damned things is challenging enough.

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        • #19
          "... We never boil our skulls that long. Actually, one needs to keep the water just barely boiling or less. ..."

          When it's 35°F to 65°F lo to hi, and the "bucket" is in an unheated shed, it takes a bit longer. Not only that, I started with cold water, THEN read the directions.
          The "Buck Boiler" bucket has a heating element that maintains the perfect temp.

          When I skinned out the head, I removed the eyeballs and tongue. The carwash did the rest.
          The bucket was started with some hydrogen peroxide and a couple of drops of dish washing liquid. Water has to be added occasionally to keep the skull submerged.
          To get the entire skull submerged, about 1.5" to 2" of antler base had to be submerged also.
          I was afraid that the foil wouldn't protect the bases sufficiently.
          Apparently, it worked just fine.

          Moose head?
          How about a huge plywood box, no idea about dimensions, with a screen top with a couple of heat lamps to keep the bugs active.

          I took some turkey wing bones to a local taxidermist to have his beetles clean them up.
          Apparently, his heat lamp allowed the bones to get just hot enough, the marrow in the bones turned to grease and soaked the bones.
          When I got the bones home, they were greasy and stunk to high heaven!
          Not something anybody would want to put in their mouth to operate!
          Trimmed the ends off the radii, ulna and humerus and boiled them about an hour with a couple of drops of Dawn to get rid of the grease and odors.

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          • #20
            I have heard of DIY taxidermists burying skulls in the ground and covering the antlers above ground with an inverted bucket or tub to protect them from mice and scavengers.
            The worms reportedly do a good job, but there may be a problem with earth staining the skull and teeth falling out. Maybe sandy soil would be better.
            Last edited by 99explorer; 11-03-2019, 06:34 PM.

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            • #21
              Hello again!

              I brought those 7 skulls home and the biggest problem so far has been getting all the bugs out of them. I had them in a barrel full of water. Then water with dish soap. Then just water again. Now they are in water with resolve whitening powder. That’s 4 times they’ve been totally immersed and every time hundreds of dead bugs have floated to the top. After emptying I also hosed them off and 2x now have blown them out with an air hose. I’m sure there will be some left behind but still hoping I can get out as many as possible.

              I used the Resolve powder in water and it is actually working pretty good. Skulls don’t smell anymore and much lighter than when I put them in.

              Now just need to glue together the cracks, glue in the loose teeth, and polish and attach the horns.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by IanS View Post
                Hello again!

                I brought those 7 skulls home and the biggest problem so far has been getting all the bugs out of them. I had them in a barrel full of water. Then water with dish soap. Then just water again. Now they are in water with resolve whitening powder. That’s 4 times they’ve been totally immersed and every time hundreds of dead bugs have floated to the top. After emptying I also hosed them off and 2x now have blown them out with an air hose. I’m sure there will be some left behind but still hoping I can get out as many as possible.

                I used the Resolve powder in water and it is actually working pretty good. Skulls don’t smell anymore and much lighter than when I put them in.

                Now just need to glue together the cracks, glue in the loose teeth, and polish and attach the horns.
                I'm curious why teeth fell out if you didn't boil the skulls. These are deer right? You should have used air pressure to blow out the bugs BEFORE soaking. By the way, those beetles are harmless.

                If Resolve contains chlorine bleach, and I'm almost certain it does, you just ruined your skulls. Chlorine bleach causes the bone to break down. The skulls will eventually crumble away. I'm right now working to salvage one a client brought in that someone soaked in chlorine bleach. It fell apart in my hands. We are ordering a fake skull. I would have just thrown in the towel and done it up as a cap mount but he wants to see what the fake skull looks like. If it doesn't work out I can still do a cap mount for him.

                I will double check on the Resolve contents but for now I STRONGLY suggest you stop that till we make sure it's not got chlorine. Go to a beauty shop and pick up some #40 peroxide. That is the bleach that is safe for bone.


                Edit: Resolve is a "bleach alternative" whatever that means. May be safe for your skulls ... or maybe not. I haven't heard of anyone using it so be cautious. If you go with the peroxide, it works best when the bone is heated up. Immerse skull in simmering hot water for a few minutes and then quickly apply peroxide with brush (synthetic bristles ... peroxide will destroy hair bristles). The beauty shop stuff usually has perfume which will leave your skulls smelling like fruit salad for a while. Also usually has conditioner so be sure to rinse the peroxide off with hot soapy water.
                Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 06-26-2020, 09:58 AM.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by IanS View Post
                  Hello again!

                  I brought those 7 skulls home and the biggest problem so far has been getting all the bugs out of them. I had them in a barrel full of water. Then water with dish soap. Then just water again. Now they are in water with resolve whitening powder. That’s 4 times they’ve been totally immersed and every time hundreds of dead bugs have floated to the top. After emptying I also hosed them off and 2x now have blown them out with an air hose. I’m sure there will be some left behind but still hoping I can get out as many as possible.

                  I used the Resolve powder in water and it is actually working pretty good. Skulls don’t smell anymore and much lighter than when I put them in.

                  Now just need to glue together the cracks, glue in the loose teeth, and polish and attach the horns.
                  Sounds good Ian! Good to hear you got them all done.
                  Did you check the brain cavity for left over material?
                  My biggest problem was getting all the cartilage out of the ears and nasal cavities.
                  If you don't mind, post some pictures so we can see what you've done.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by FirstBubba View Post

                    Sounds good Ian! Good to hear you got them all done.
                    Did you check the brain cavity for left over material?
                    My biggest problem was getting all the cartilage out of the ears and nasal cavities.
                    If you don't mind, post some pictures so we can see what you've done.
                    Use a small screwdriver to pry the ear canal structures loose. Best to get rid of all that as it's smelly and the opening provides better access to the brain cavity. I use a piece of very heavy steel wire about eleven inches long with a one inch loop on the end to pull out the brain when carcass is still fresh. Put the wire in variable speed drill, insert through spinal canal and on SLOW speed the brain is sucked out almost intact. A real mess at high speed! The wire and drill can also be used for fishing out nasal cartilage but be CAREFUL as sidewalls in some places inside the nose are very thin and easily damaged.

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                    • #25
                      Honk, the "Buck Bucket" maintains a temperature that is hot enough to "cook" the skull, but not hot enough to cause the skull to fall apart or teeth to fall out.
                      You cook yours in a retired "canner", I'll use a "Buck Bucket".

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by FirstBubba View Post
                        Honk, the "Buck Bucket" maintains a temperature that is hot enough to "cook" the skull, but not hot enough to cause the skull to fall apart or teeth to fall out.
                        You cook yours in a retired "canner", I'll use a "Buck Bucket".
                        A can is a can. As long as the water is simmering just below boiling the teeth should not fall out. I will cook the skulls sometimes a half hour or more at that temp and haven't lost a tooth yet. Sometimes the crack in septum opens after skull dries but easily glued back together with superglue and plastic tie cinched around nose to hold together till glue sets.

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                        • #27
                          There is no more flesh on the skulls and they no longer stink after using the Resolve in water. I started this almost 2 years ago so thinking they may be too deeply stained to get them nice and white. If so I’m ok with the more “leathery” look. Now I have them soaking in plain water just trying to get the dead bugs out of the crevices. Especially the bison heads, every time I blow them out and think I got all the dead bugs out I soak them again and more float to the top and when I blow out with air hose they swarm out like flies. May take a while but hopefully soon!
                          Attached Files

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by IanS View Post
                            There is no more flesh on the skulls and they no longer stink after using the Resolve in water. I started this almost 2 years ago so thinking they may be too deeply stained to get them nice and white. If so I’m ok with the more “leathery” look. Now I have them soaking in plain water just trying to get the dead bugs out of the crevices. Especially the bison heads, every time I blow them out and think I got all the dead bugs out I soak them again and more float to the top and when I blow out with air hose they swarm out like flies. May take a while but hopefully soon!
                            Far out and groovy dude! Keep us updated.

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                            • #29
                              I put the skulls out in the sun and sprayed them with peroxide. It is definitely helping to whiten them up and I won’t have to do any other soaking. Has anyone ever had any hairs stuck to the skull after cleaning. I’m hoping that scrubbing with soapy water and a stiff brush will get rid of them. Perhaps something rough like that Resolve powder again or pumice hand cleaner? Click image for larger version

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                              • #30
                                Today I scrubbed them with an SOS pad and dishwasher soap. All the hairs came off. So now I need to glue up the cracks, varnish and glue on the horns and I’ll be done

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