It’s no secret that ever since I was a small boy and would walk into my
grandfather’s home and see a great horned owl (there were no laws
governing them back then) looking down at me with those big round eyes
I was fascinated by taxidermy.
Some say that we hunters hang heads on our wall because we are
keeping score but I don’t think so, rather, I think we are bringing the
outdoors home with us and just as a painting inspires beautiful
thoughts so the wall mount of an animal inspires fond memories of the
hunt to enjoy at our leisure.
Taxidermy has come 360 degrees since some of the crude mounts
that were put out in my grandfather’s time, in fact some are so good
today that they look like the animal is as alive as when the animal was
taken. I have noticed small facial features in particular such as eyes,
and the transformation from the old mounts without eyelids displaying
big round eyes to the newer ones with natural eyelids as they appear on
a deer and actual whites in the eyes of the deer.
Another form of taxidermy perhaps older than any other form of
taxidermy has gained a lot of attention in recent times and for good
reason. Call it the European mount or simply the skull mount and you
are talking about the same thing. IF you have watched old movies
perhaps you remember seeing cobwebbed covered skull mounts on torch lit
castle walls or in rooms where vampires call their bedrooms, but
nothing could be further from the truth.
A well done skull mount or European mount more properly is a
very tasteful piece of artwork that will last as long as any mount with
hair on it. The skull mount has a beauty all to itself and in the
shadows of a fireplace light can bring about a relaxing mood as the
hunter reflects on the animal harvested.
Of course the skull mount is much less expensive than a typical hair on
mount. There is less time involved in doing one and less materials. You
can do a skull mount yourself or you can have one done by your
I have a skull mount of a nice eight pointer that I took in
Missouri. The deer had great G2’s but was just not one I wanted to put
the time and money into to have mounted in a traditional way. In fact I
created a little piece of my own art, if one can consider what I have
done art. I have tied a couple of turkey feathers, and pheasant
feathers onto the mount and hung red beads on strips of leather. Each
thing that I have done on this mount represents something to me and me
alone. The red beads are for turkeys I have taken, the arrowhead V’s on
the top part of the skull are for deer taken with a bow, and the marks
down the entire front muzzle of the deer mark deer I have taken with
firearms. Some may call it weird but to me it is art with significance.
Some like to paint pictures on a skull mount, while many prefer to
leave them plain and natural. To each his own is my motto.
When I did my skull mount myself I knew nothing about doing
them and my method was much longer and more tedious than it should have
been. Since doing that first skull mount I have found new and better
ways of doing a European skull mount. Here are some tips in doing your
own skull mount.
What you will need:
- A good sharp comfortable to use knife
- A Coleman stove or even a propane stove used to fry fish
- A pair of vice grips
- A pot big enough to totally immerse the skull into
Instructions to make a European or skull mount:
- Detach the head from the spinal column
- Skin the head out the best you can
- Remove the eyes, detach the lower jaw and cut away the tongue.
- Glue back on any thin bones that may have fallen off
- Be particularly careful not to boil so long that the teeth will
begin to loosen if you have left the teeth in. Boiling should only take
from twenty to thirty minutes.
- Paint the skull with 35% hydrogen peroxide
There of course is another way to have the skull cleaned as well as
one could ever expect and that is to have it done by flesh eating
beetles. You may find such services advertised on the Internet or
perhaps your local taxidermist can put you on to someone who has these
Make no bones about it the skull mount or more properly the
European mount is more than a piece of bone, it is art in its’ truest
form, quite affordable and a good way to capture a hunting experience
and enjoy it for years to come. All of this plus it will take up less
space in your trophy room and makes a great conversation piece.