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Old November 22, 2006, 04:58 PM   #1
FirstFreedom
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How long to leave buried?

I buried a buck's head with antlers in my backyard Mon, without removing any skin or anything. How long will it take for the worms to clean it off completely, do you think - 2, 3, 4, more months? Thanks.
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Old November 22, 2006, 05:15 PM   #2
whiskey
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I always skin mine and cut off all the meat I can easily remove. Usually a month or so later the bugs have removed about everything left. Never buired one though. I might try that next time.
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Old November 22, 2006, 05:29 PM   #3
Double Naught Spy
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Chances are, you will still have tissue left in a year. Burying actually protects the remaims from the elements and insects.

Your three best insect scavengers are ants and fly larvae for wet tissue and dermestid beetles for dried out tissue for specimens left on land.

The colder weather will slow the insect activity.

Depending on burial depth, ground moisture, temps, etc., the brains can remain inside the skull for much longer because the are further protected by thr skull.

Maceration in water will be stinky but quicker than burial and you won't risk damage from boring insects or attempted excavation by scavenging carnivores.

Add some oak leaves to the water, or even tea so as to get a soft tan/light brown stain collor on the bone, if you like.
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Old November 22, 2006, 05:58 PM   #4
FirstFreedom
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Reason I didn't want to just let hang out to the flys & ants is the neighbors may not appreciate the smell. Thus, buried....but that'll take too long, sounds like. Hmmm, so just throw in a vat of water eh? Is that what macerate means?

scavenging carnivores, you say? Yep, one of my dogs has already dug it up once.
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Old November 22, 2006, 06:44 PM   #5
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First, I don't think the smell will be too bad. Ever had a oppossum, skunk, raccoon, squirrel, or anything like that die around your house. Sure, the smell is bad, but it's far from overwhelming. Deer dont have a whole lot of stuff to decompose either. I would go with the throw the head in water thing. Maybe something like a 5 gallon bucket if you can get it to fit, and change the water ever so often.
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Old November 22, 2006, 07:12 PM   #6
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I did a skulls project long ago. I cleaned all the tissue off the skulls that I could as the first step. As I remember I then used a tub with clorax / water mix to dissolve the remaining tissue.
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Old November 22, 2006, 07:52 PM   #7
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I have heard boiled in salt water but no idea how salty or how long. I see skulls for sale on ebay you might try asking some of the folks that are doing that. If nothing else they might point you in the right direction.
In the ground is not the way I don't think as the bone will turn brown. We have a badger skull we found partly buried a couple of weeks ago which is very brown.
Some of the mountain man reenactment guys might know.

I used to place deer heads high on a power pole out back, but didn't have any neighbors within several hundred yards. Had birds make nests between the horns on top of the head. we enjoyed the baby birds. There would still be some hair after 5 or more years.
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Old November 22, 2006, 08:59 PM   #8
armedtotheteeth
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I think it may depend on where you live. I buried a deer head in my yard, (west Texas) and after about 6 months, I had a piece of leather coated bone. I would just leave it out for the flies and maggots to get to it, Unless you live in town. I guess you have already buried it. Id give it at least 4 months to get the funk off it. I had to peel the rawhide off my Buck with a pair of pliars.
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Old November 22, 2006, 09:02 PM   #9
armedtotheteeth
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Oh yeah, try a ant bed. It seems to help. Here, we are blessed with these wonderful creatures called Fire ants. ( which promted me to buy this stuff called "Over and out")WORKS REALLY GOOD!
They eat everything, probably deer brains too.
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Old November 22, 2006, 09:16 PM   #10
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I have used the fire ant mounds as well to strip a buffalo skull. They were very quick and you didn't have to worry about boring insects.

Otherwise the water/bleach in a bucket has worked in the past. After the skin is off use just a water soak and add dried leaves (oak work the best) to give it a brownish tint.

Make sure to keep dogs/cats away from it when it has the bleach mix. Try cutting slots in the bucket lid to allow the antlers to pass through and then tape around them.
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Old November 22, 2006, 09:25 PM   #11
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I've got an ex-wife that collects skulls - this is the basic process:

1. Detach head, skin, cut out tongue, jaw use knife and locking pliers.
2. Using outdoor stove, simmer head in large pot of water with a little dishwashing liquid for 30 minutes.
Keep antlers out of pot.
Cover antlers with aluminum foil to steam.
3. Remove skull and pieces that have fallen off.
Glue pieces in place later.
4. Pick the skull clean. Use needle nose pliers.
5. Immerse the clean skull in a solution of 1 part (3% peroxide) and 2 parts water. Soak for up to 24 hours. Don’t touch the antlers.

Feel free to modify
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Old November 22, 2006, 09:33 PM   #12
Adventurer 2
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Oh Yeah, Do it outside because it is going to smell.
Don't let your neighbors see because they probably won't understand and you would just freak them out.
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Old November 22, 2006, 11:52 PM   #13
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We had a rat problem in our barn when I was a kid, we shot 14 of them the first night we went out for them.

The next day someone got the idea to stick the rats in ant piles to get the meat off of them. Fire ants picked them clean in about a week and we were sticking 3 in each pile.

So if you have fire ants around try that. Around here in Florida I would not bother burying a skull, my brother had tried doing that with a whole opossum. Two weeks after he buried it there was only small bits of bone left in the cage he buried it in.
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Old November 23, 2006, 12:56 AM   #14
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I buried a 5 point white tail out in the garden in nice topsoil and it took the better part of two summers to get it close to useable. I'd maybe skin it out and get rid of all the bits that you can get at then try burying it for a while but likely still a year or so.
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Old November 28, 2006, 12:29 PM   #15
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The best way to do it is to cut off all hair and tissue you possibly can and put skull in dep freezer until psring. in the spring, take a regular 5 gallon bucket and put skull in. antlers will prevent it from touching bottom, but that is good. Fill bucket with plain old water and let bacteria do their work. After about 10 days pull skull out, dump water. Scrub skull with stiff scrub brush to remove as much material as possible. Put back in bucket refill with fresh water. Repeat as necessary.
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Old November 28, 2006, 12:51 PM   #16
FirstFreedom
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OK, thanks

but nevermind. Dug it up. Boiled it out on the propane grill using an aluminum trash can as the pot. Done. All is well. Thanks again.
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Old November 28, 2006, 01:25 PM   #17
NRA4life
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I cut off as much as possible and then boil the skull in a steel pot with some borax. Do NOT use an aluminum pot if you use borax though. Boil for 45 minutes or so and remove and clean off as much of the gunk as possible. Repeat this process once or twice until it is all clean. Then soak the skull portion only in a 50% Hydrogen Peroxide & 50% water solution for a couple days. Skull will be snow white.
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Old November 29, 2006, 07:49 PM   #18
FirstFreedom
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By the way, a lot of peeps did help me here, espec. Adventurer 2 - thanks again! At this point I don't see the need for the water/HO mix, since the skull is white as is, but good to know how that works.
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