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Old November 29, 2009, 08:17 PM   #1
Foxy265
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cleaning a deer head

need some advice on how to clean my deer skull;
i shot this buck in late Oct. with my bow, had good blood for first 50yrds then nothing to very little blood, crossed a road and couldn't find it. searched area for hours to no avail. Noticed some buzzards in early Nov. in an area about 300 yrds from where i shot him, had to wait till after area gun season to check. Checked it today and bingo he was there. my question is how can i get the skull clean, i attached a pic, as you can see it was infested with maggots and bugs. HELP!!!
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Old November 29, 2009, 08:45 PM   #2
fisherman66
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Flesh eating beetles might be the best way. Some taxidermists offer this service. It's much less expensive than a skin mount. The peroxide finish is very inexpensive too.

If you're interested I'll dig up a PM with contact info.
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Old November 29, 2009, 09:01 PM   #3
sserdlihc
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I have cleaned skulls and turtle shells with bleach.
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Old November 29, 2009, 09:06 PM   #4
SAIGAFISH
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in the ground

bury in the garden with horns out till summer then alittle bleach
good to go
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Old November 29, 2009, 09:07 PM   #5
cornbush
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Go to VanDykes Taxidermy and order one of their kits, its Sal Soda and a peroxide process, works great and its cheap.
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Old November 29, 2009, 09:17 PM   #6
liberty1
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http://www.javelinahunter.com/step_1_prep.htm
This is the best method I have found. Works great and does not take to long.
If you use bleach the skull will yellow over time. Peroxide glows white and cleans up any little pieces of meat you missed.
The super washing soda mentioned works fine.
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Old November 29, 2009, 09:23 PM   #7
Double Naught Spy
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If not bugs, I prefer to use maceration (soaking in water).

You MUST be careful with bleach. Bleach will very easily damage the bone if you are not careful and it is hard to tell when you have bleached enough during the actual process because it is hard to know the results until the bone dries out afterward and then it is often too late. Too much bleaching can make the bones "dry" and brittle, especially the more delicate bones.

The same goes for boiling. Nobody suggested it yet, but some folks boil. You can overcook the bones just like over bleaching.

After the skull is clean and free of moisture, a variety of good clear floor waxes (non-glossy) will soak into the bones and help to preserve them and even help with some of the damage of over-processing.

I have not tried the floor wax on antlers, however, though I am fairly certain it will work just fine.

FYI, burial in the ground will transfer some mineral stain to the bones and give your bones a more earthtone appearance if you don't like the bleached white look. Note that brown soil will give a brown appearance and red soil will give a reddish appearance. Also, tannin as from oak leaves or tea (soak the skull in water with a lot of oak leaves or just use brewed tea) will also given your bones a nice brown color. The oak leaf process takes much longer, however.
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Old November 29, 2009, 09:29 PM   #8
cornbush
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The Sal Soda method does use boiling water, if you order the kit and follow the directions you should be fine.
Most bubba jobs usually start with "how hard can it be?"
No matter which method you use, if it involves any chemicals try not to get ANY on the antlers.
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Old November 29, 2009, 11:40 PM   #9
zahnzieh
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I've used the water technique for several skulls, very smelly - store in an area yiou dont go to regularly - will stink for a good 6 months. Yeah, be careful with bleach. Also, are you planning a european mount? Some taxifdermists will use hide/head from another deer w. your antlers - looks good, only an expert can tell.
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Old November 29, 2009, 11:43 PM   #10
wyobohunter
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Quote:
need some advice on how to clean my deer skull;
i shot this buck in late Oct. with my bow, had good blood for first 50yrds then nothing to very little blood, crossed a road and couldn't find it. searched area for hours to no avail. Noticed some buzzards in early Nov. in an area about 300 yrds from where i shot him, had to wait till after area gun season to check. Checked it today and bingo he was there. my question is how can i get the skull clean, i attached a pic, as you can see it was infested with maggots and bugs. HELP!!!
Dude, no offense (well, maybe a little) but I wouldn't display the skull of a meat animal that I let go to waste. I think you should work on learning a thorough search pattern before worrying about how to make a nice European mount. An anthill can clean a skull up pretty good by the way.
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Old November 30, 2009, 12:08 AM   #11
cnimrod
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see your point wyobo, do you really want to tell that story every time someone comments on it. but it'd still make a nice coat hanger in the mudroom and nothing ever goes to waste in nature.
as to the OP - used the water method for a snapping turtle I wanted to save and it was a little tough on the gag reflex after several months.
Buried my first spike buck skull under the pine tree out back before i learned soils under pine tees are highly acidic it dissolved the skull when I checked a few months later. Gonna try the above 'superwash' boil technique on my son's first spike.
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Old November 30, 2009, 03:38 AM   #12
bamaranger
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too bad

That's a dandy buck and I hate you lost him. It happens, or will happen, to more of us than care to admit it. If you know through and through you did all you could to recover him, to prepare for and make the shot etc, may you rest a little easier. If not, do better.

NOw, to clean the skull...... get a full propane tank for the barbecue. Get a big ol pot, big enough to hold the skull submerged, but the antlers clear.

fill it w/ water and go to boiling for as long as necessary. It'll stink, but pull it occassionally and peel, scrape, the cooked flesh , hide and brains out w/ rubber gloves, screw driver etc. cheapest way I know.

If you bury it, etc, the varmints might get it. This will do it in an afternoon, and your're done.

Helps if no neighbors for a 1/2 mile or so and the wife's not home.
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Old November 30, 2009, 03:51 AM   #13
trooper3385
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I think I would just cut the horns off and turn that one into a horn mount. You could buy another cape from a taxidermist and have a shoulder mount. Sometimes they have a lot of extras and they will just give you one. If you really want a skull mount, go with the kit from Vandykes.

Last edited by trooper3385; November 30, 2009 at 03:59 AM.
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Old November 30, 2009, 08:30 PM   #14
Foxy265
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well wyobohunter i searched the area in the direction he headed for hours, only to find out the deer doubled back and to the south of where i shot it. sorry i don't live in a glass house like you. but thanks for your input, all is welcome.
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Old December 1, 2009, 09:20 PM   #15
wyobohunter
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I wasn't bashing you for losing a deer.
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Old December 1, 2009, 09:25 PM   #16
wyobohunter
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I wasn't bashing you for losing a deer. I was just saying that 1: it did seem like you may have given up prematurely (deer was within 300 yds of shot) and 2: I personally wouldn't be proud to display a deer skull if I let the meat go to waste. I lost a deer once and if I found it after it had gone to waste I wouldn't hang the skull on my wall. I don't think I was throwing rocks, to me it was constructive criticism.
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Last edited by wyobohunter; December 2, 2009 at 01:01 AM.
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Old December 1, 2009, 10:06 PM   #17
Catfish25p2000
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Dude, meat or no meat... Nice buck!
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Old December 2, 2009, 05:29 AM   #18
bswiv
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The Sal Soda mentioned before, with a CAREFUL boiling, works. Don't over boil as cautioned. Bone will get soft and delaminate. We use it on gator skulls and it turns out fine.

Peroxide, not bleach.

What we found is that the Sal Soda, which is as I understand it actually a low suds washing soda, seems to do a good job of removing the fats and oils from the bone. This keep the bone from yellowing over time.

It is important to protect the antlers. Keep them out of the water.

Need to coat the skull once it's clean and dry. Find a product that does not yellow over time. If you've got access to a cabnet shop that uses catalized laquer see if they will spray it for you. That stuff is perfect. Hard and NEVER yellows.
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Old December 2, 2009, 09:30 AM   #19
skydiver3346
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cleaning a skull?

Has anybody ever just used an ant hill to clean a skull? Do you think that will work?
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Old December 2, 2009, 06:54 PM   #20
Rob96
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I actually like the stainless steel skulls they sell for doing a mount such as this. All you need are the antlers.
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Old December 2, 2009, 08:05 PM   #21
wyobohunter
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Quote:
Has anybody ever just used an ant hill to clean a skull? Do you think that will work?
While I haven't done it personally, I've known folks who have. Just make sure you find an anthill that somebody isn't likely to stumble across or your skull might get stolen.
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