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bootlegger
Southeastern LA Fan
Ponchatoula
Member since Dec 2012
3473 posts

Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial


I've seen a lot of people asking about help with doing European mounts, so I wanted to put together a picture-heavy, step by step tutorial. Kind of a way to give back to the board for various other advice I've received here. I hope you all enjoy this, and see that I may be useful for more than just lawn advice!

I am not a trained taxidermist, nor am I saying this is the only way or the best way. But, this is the most efficient way I have found in the past several years of doing them. It doesn't involve stinking up your house, or sneaking one of your wife's good pots out into the garage. It also eliminates a lot of danger from using an open flame and propane.

So, without further adieu, let's get started.......

Cooking bucket materials needed:
20qt flat back bucket (Tractor Supply)
15ft (or so) extension cord (Lowe's)
1500w water heater element (Lowe's)
1" electrical conduit nut (Lowe's)
1 1/4" hole saw

The first step is to make your boiler. I use a flat-back 20qt feed bucket from Tractor Supply. Using a 1 1/4" hole saw, drill a hole near the bottom on the flat side of the bucket. Insert a 1500w water heater element into the bucket, using the 1" conduit nut on the inside to secure it.
*Do not overtighten, or the gasket will squeeze out, causing a leak*
Cut the female end off the extension cord, and connect the hot and neutral to the two poles on the element, either via eye terminals, or just pinning the wire under the screws. Remember to NEVER plug it in unless the element is fully submerged.

Image: https://s30.postimg.org/6xjhsoopt/IMG_20170201_174648.jpg

Image: https://s27.postimg.org/6d0biztk3/IMG_20170201_174606.jpg

Image: https://s30.postimg.org/mjdmem0w1/IMG_20170201_174643.jpg



Now, on to the deer...



Once you get the deer's head removed (leaving as little of the neck attached as possible), skin off all of the hide. The best way is to skin it as a taxidermist would for a mount. If you just hack away, you may cut into the bone, which will leave visible marks once the mount is complete. There are several videos on YouTube to reference for this. Many people use a scalpel, but I've come to prefer this small, hooked tip knife by Mundial:
Image: https://s23.postimg.org/6wztlogvv/IMG_20170203_185038.jpg


Then, CAREFULLY remove the eyeballs (kinda tricky), as well as the tongue and jaw. The closer it looks to a skull mount at this step makes the rest of the process easier.
Image: https://s29.postimg.org/5wfaifouv/Screenshot_20170203_190649.png


Image: https://s30.postimg.org/toxnn9jq9/Screenshot_20170203_190652.png



Now, fill your bucket with water, drop the deer head in (does not matter if the antlers are submerged) and plug the unit in. I usually fill near the top, so that I don't have to add as much water as it slowly steams off. When I see that the water is good and warm, I'll drizzle in a generous amount of Dawn soap (8-10 tablespoons).

Image: https://s24.postimg.org/icwhy7pxh/IMG_20170117_151014.jpg


Because you're not dealing with an open flame, and because the (non-thermostat controlled) 1500w element seems to keep a near perfect simmer temperature, you don't have to babysit the bucket. Just be sure the water level doesn't drop too low and expose the skull. I usually have to add water only 3-4 times through the course of the cooking.

When I get around the 6 hour mark, I'll pull the skull out and begin the picking... I use needle-nosed pliers.

Image: https://s28.postimg.org/v9zxdntst/IMG_20170117_151020.jpg


Pull as much loose meat off as you can. Also, grab the vertical piece of cartilage in the nasal cavity and remove it.
Image: https://s29.postimg.org/don0x3xzb/IMG_20170117_151152.jpg


At this point, you should clearly be able to see the ear canal. This is where the needle-nosed pliers come in handy. Open the pliers, and insert one jaw into to ear canal.
Image: https://s24.postimg.org/5ieyx2zf9/IMG_20170117_151210.jpg






This post was edited on 2/3 at 9:13 pm


bootlegger
Southeastern LA Fan
Ponchatoula
Member since Dec 2012
3473 posts

re: Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial

Pry away from the skull, and the ear canal should easily pop off, taking with it some more meat and cartilage, leaving just one thin piece of bone on the brain cavity, like so:
Image: https://s27.postimg.org/gidej70v7/IMG_20170117_151242.jpg


Now close your pliers, and punch through this bone, breaking it loose and forcing it into the brain cavity, leaving just a hole on each side:
Image: https://s28.postimg.org/amchomral/IMG_20170117_151253.jpg


Now, back into to bucket for approximately another hour. I usually add some more Dawn at this point. Get your water hose and a good nozzle ready, and it's not a bad idea to wear rubber boots for this next part.

Pull the skull back out after about an hour, and place it on the concrete, leaning it back on its antlers. Start blasting with water-everywhere. I start by shooting straight into the nasal cavity. Get everything you can blasted out. Pay particular attention to the small crevices beside the eyeballs
Image: https://s30.postimg.org/vqmgz2wv5/Screenshot_20170203_200228.png

and the holes on either side of the upper jaw
Image: https://s27.postimg.org/yrt1k5cur/IMG_20170117_153441.jpg


Then, flip it over onto its nose and antlers and spray the nasal cavity out from the back
Image: https://s24.postimg.org/qsk4yvd45/IMG_20170117_153426.jpg


Also, freaking blast the heck out of the brain from this angle. I put my hose nozzle against the joint of the spinal joint and spray wide open. The bones on top of the ear canal that we busted out earlier should rattle around and help scramble the brain as it flows out. You'll hear them bouncing around in there.
Image: https://s23.postimg.org/tzyfnv8jv/IMG_20170117_153411.jpg



If there is a need, put the skull back into to bucket to cook off any remaining meat and wash it away with the hose. Should be no need for a pressure washer, only a typical hose spigot.

Don't worry if the two front nasal bones fall off, they are easily glued on later. Also, because the ridge of the nose usually separates after all the hot water, I slip a cable tie over it as it dries, and it dries back in place
Image: https://s24.postimg.org/7f20387lh/IMG_20170117_153554.jpg

Image: https://s30.postimg.org/u2g5qvq3l/IMG_20170117_153610.jpg



Once I let the skull dry for a day or so, it is time to whiten. I buy the gallon of 40% peroxide gel and whitening powder from Sally's Beauty Supply.
(It comes in smaller quantities as well)

Image: https://s30.postimg.org/6tqgaf8o1/IMG_20170203_171049.jpg


Mix the two together to make a thin paste. Thick enough to not run, but thin enough to paint on the skull. I guess it could be described as a a yogurt-like consistency.
Image: https://s27.postimg.org/zdzxfta7n/IMG_20170201_171038.jpg


I use a 1" polyester brush to coat the entire skull. Be very careful not to get any of the peroxide paste on the antlers or pedicles. If so, just wipe off immediately.

Image: https://s27.postimg.org/g61ekjm8j/IMG_20170201_171734.jpg


This concoction will dry overnight into a dry powder. After 12 hours or so (when fully dry), hose off the skull thoroughly. Use a small brush to scrub any residue left on the antlers from the cooking bucket.
Image: https://s28.postimg.org/wytwi0xx9/IMG_20170203_174235.jpg


If your nasal bones fell of, you should've bleached them at the same time as the rest of the skull, and once everything is thoroughly dry, glue them back on. I recommend Loc-tite gel control for any repair work.

Also, several squirts of air freshener in the brain cavity for several days after drying will deodorize it.

The display options are endless, and I may update this thread later with some things I have done.






I hope this was informative and useful for you guys. As always, I'm here for any questions, as well as suggestions on improvements. I'm too tired to proofread right now, may come back and do it tomorrow...Just wanted to go ahead and get this up.


Long live the fellowship of the OB

This post was edited on 2/4 at 7:51 am


Tridentds
Texas A&M Fan
Sugar Land
Member since Aug 2011
6797 posts

re: Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial
Damn good post. Very nice work my man.


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40
GREENHEAD22
LSU Fan
LafayettebywayofBush
Member since Nov 2009
11372 posts

re: Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial
This may be stupid but does sticking it in a any pile not help at all?


bootlegger
Southeastern LA Fan
Ponchatoula
Member since Dec 2012
3473 posts

re: Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial
Takes longer, and you run the risk of something stealing the whole thing, or the sun bleaching the antlers. This method, you can go from dead deer to clean skull in under 8 hours.

More than one way to skin a cat, just wanted to share the way I do it. I've never actually done the ant pile method.
This post was edited on 2/3 at 9:11 pm


SeaPickle
LSU Fan
Thibodaux
Member since May 2011
2323 posts

re: Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial
I put mine in an ant pile yesterday. If I get time this weekend I'll start this process. I'll let the ants make progress until then. I have the head under a garbage can ratchet strapped to the fence post to make sure nothing steals it and the sun doesn't ruin it.

OP,thanks for the tips.


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31
LongDuckDong
LSU Fan
St. Francisville, LA
Member since Jun 2008
837 posts

re: Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial
Thanks for the post. Not only will I give this a shot, but I'm sharing it with my 12 year old (Little Dong 1} so that it might be a joint venture - he loves a project. More importantly, he can "pass it down" to the next generation, too, granted he is so inclined. Shining example of why this board was created.

Again, thanks for sharing.




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40
bossflossjr
LSU Fan
The Great State of Louisiana
Member since Sep 2005
11208 posts

re: Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial
Great job bro. Much appreciate the tips & pics. We have started euro mounting all of our deer at my dads place. I may be the one doin them now


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10
GREENHEAD22
LSU Fan
LafayettebywayofBush
Member since Nov 2009
11372 posts

re: Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial
This needs to be stickied.


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20
Yewkindewit
LSU Fan
Near Birmingham, Alabama
Member since Apr 2012
10227 posts

re: Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial
Awesome tutorial with pics and warnings! A+ my man!


HouseofWaffles
Auburn Fan
Member since Nov 2014
2369 posts

re: Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial
Man, I wish you wouldve posted this a week ago


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10
sonoma8
LSU Fan
Maurice
Member since Oct 2006
4891 posts

re: Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial
Awesome boot Def needs to be stickied


wickowick
LSU Fan
Head of Island
Member since Dec 2006
35072 posts

re: Bootlegger's Skull Mount Guide - A Picture Tutorial
I get chops to add this to the FAQ thread


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