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How doyou get to the skull?

Old 02-14-2005, 11:29 PM
  #11  
Giant Nontypical
 
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Saskatchewan Canada
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Default RE: How doyou get to the skull?

Like mentioned cape the face and remove as much meat as possible, the sooner it is done after the kill the easier. If you don't have time put in a garbage bag and in the deep freeze, let it dethaw and it comes off nicely. If it has sat for a while then I soak so the hide is workable, it will stink so do it outside, then cape and scrape! Remember when caping it don't have to be pretty, just start removing hide and meat, the eye I use a filleting knife and work the blade around so they come out in tact, the rest is pretty much like skinning. For the cartilage in the nose(if fresh) I will use needle nose pliers in a push and pull method to remove. (if not fresh I will remove during the boiling procedure). I then either spray off with a garden hose or is the wife is working use the kitchen sink..lol!

I always boil my skulls and skull caps, the trick is slow/rolling boil vs a hard boil, you must keep an eye on the water level and top when required. I wrap the antlers in heavy duty alum. foil for the entire process, to ensure the antlers or pedicles are not tainted by the boiling water or whitening solution. When boiling periodically remove and scrape skull. I use an arrow shaft via the brain stem to break up and remove the brain matter in a euro mount. I would boil it outside, it tends to not produce the best smell.

Whitening I mostly use an alum. cake pan with peroxide and cotton balls, as described earlier. You can also make a paste with peroxide and powdered bleach(available at a beauty salon it is used for reducing liver spots). With this method you allow the paste to sit for 24 hours then rinse off, if required repeat. Like already mentioned do not use household bleach, it will yellow the skull and can weaken it as well. The natural route works but take time, I would ensure the antlers are protected to minimize fading or rodent chewing. The beatle method is very fast and does an excellent job if you have access to them....just don't let them escape!!!

Not a hard process, it is time consuming but enjoyable and i think rewarding.
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Old 02-15-2005, 11:09 AM
  #12  
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Default RE: How doyou get to the skull?

I skun the whole head, ripped off the bottom jaw. I hung the head in a tree outside, then I waited 'till the fiancee was away (for the day).

Then, I fired up our new Turkey Roaster, filled it up with water (which should come to a very very slow boil.

I read that the boiling could cause the antlers to discolor, so I followed some online directions and covered the bases in aluminum foil.

Just set the head down in the roaster, and let him roast. After about 2 hours, the meat/cartilage peels right off - but you'll still need some kind of implement to help - a dull knife should work (it won't leave any cuts in the bone). Getting the eyeballs out is a gruesome task, and I found skinning the roof of the mouth to be kinda gross. The smell is pretty rank, and it's a greasy mess. I did it in the garage (thankfully) because it WILL stink up your house!!

Afterward, I let it dry for about an hour, then tightly covered it in gauze and soaked it in a pan of bleach. I kept basting the gauze, which stays wet and keeps the whole thing soaked. After about 3 hours, I pulled it and left it dry. I had to do it a second time, I think, b/c it was still a shade yellow on top.

CLEAN OUT THE ROASTER - B/C if your wife finds out - SHE WILL KILL YOU

For the brains, I just poked around in there with a screwdriver and got them all stirred up and gelatinous, then I used the garden hose and blew them out. WARNING - COVER YOUR FACE WHEN YOU DO IT - I learned the hard way.

Mine turned out really nice, I've showed it off (but still waiting for my wall pedestal from McKenzie). I would definitely do it again, b/c taxidermy is just too expensive for me, given my current state of financial bliss.

Allow 6 hours for completion.
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Old 02-15-2005, 12:19 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Default RE: How doyou get to the skull?

Here's some information I found: Clean skulls for use as European/Euro Mounts, Western Mounts, study skulls, or collector's items.

Skulls can be cleaned in many different ways. There are a couple of methods which are more accepted than others, but there is not one single method which I would consider to be the absolute best for cleaning skulls. Four methods seem to be the most common used and proven ones.

Skull Cleaning with Beetles or Bugs:

If you are using beetles to clean your skull, I would recommend that you first skin the skull and remove as much meat as possible. Remove the eyeballs, tongue and any tissue that you can easily cut off with a sharp knife or blade. If you just dump the whole skull "as is" into the terrarium with the beetles you may end up with a half cleaned skull. Even dermestid beetles have a limit on how much they can consume.

If the skull is a fresh one, just lay it in the cage after you are done cutting off the biggest pieces of meat. Make sure you keep your beetles in a dark enclosure with a high humidity. They like dark moist places.

If the skull was already on the drier side when you got it, rewet it by soaking it in water for about an hour. Keep misting the skulls you put into the beetle cage on a daily basis to keep them from drying out while the beetles consume the flesh. They will quit eating if the skull gets too dry. Do not overmist though, or you might cause mold to grow in the terrarium.

It helps if you have more than one tank of beetles so you can switch tanks if the beetles in one tank have eaten their share and the skull is still not clean. This process can take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks depending on the size of the skull, the appetite of your beetles, and the freshness of the meat.

Once the skull is cleaned of any meat and tissue, take it out of the tank and rinse it real good under running water and brush with a soft wirebrush. If any brain is left in the brain cavity, it needs to be taken out with a small wirehook. The cartilage in the nose cavity needs to be taken out, but not the small nasal bones. Leave them in.

Place the skull in the sun for a few days to dry. Once the skull has been dried for a few days in the sun, it is ready for the bleaching process. Some people skip this process. It all depends on how white you want your skull to look. If you are going for a more off white natural look, don't bleach it. If you want your skull gleaming white, go ahead with the next step.

Place the skull in a container (can't be metal) of hydrogen peroxide. You can purchase this at beauty supply stores at 40% volume, or at grocery stores, drug stores or chain stores at 3% volume . The strength of the peroxide will determine on how long you will have to leave the skull in the solution. If you use the 40% volume, leave the skull in it no more than about 12 hours (overnight). If you use the 3% volume, it may have to be in there for a couple of days. Make sure that you cover, or put a lid on the container with the bleach so it will work properly.

After the bleaching process, take the skull out and let it sit in the sun again for several days to dry. Once it is dry, glue any loose teeth or missing teeth back in with Elmer's glue. It dries clear and can not be seen once it has dried.

Now you may want to spray your skull with a slight mist of Deft matte wood finish or just leave it as it is. I found that if I spray my skulls with a finish afterwards, they stay clean longer, and they are easier to keep clean later on down the road.

The beetles method comes in real handy if you live somewhere where you have a lot of neighbors which would be bothered by the smell of rotten meat, which brings us to method number 2.

Skull Cleaning by Maceration:

I personally like this method the best. The damage to the skull is minimal or nonexistent with this method if it is done correctly.

Skin the skull and remove the biggest parts of flesh on it just as in the above method. Then take the skull and put it in a tub or bucket of water. Make sure the whole skull is immersed in the water. No need to add anything to the water even though I have heard of people adding beer and baking soda to it to speed up the bacteria growth. If you live in warmer climates where the temperature does not drop below freezing, this is not all that necessary. The warm weather and the sun will stimulate the growth of bacteria in the water, and they will start to eat away on the tissue.

Depending on your outside temperature and the time of year this process can take from as little as a week to a couple of months. If you need to, you can place an aquarium heater in the bucket with your skull to keep the water warm. The water needs to be checked every three or four days, and if necessary partially replaced with fresh water. If the water gets too murky and nasty with meat tissue floating around in it, it needs to be changed out. Don't exchange all of the water as you want to keep the bacteria in the water. Always leave some of the old water in the container.

You know that the skull is ready to come out when you can easily remove the meat with your hands. It will literally just fall off and very little, if any, scraping with a knife will be required.

Take the skull out of the water. Rinse it off with clean water and scrub it with a soft wirebrush to remove the last bits of tissue which may cling to the skull. Also make sure you rinse the brain out, which at this point should be very soft and runny. Clean the skull under running water inside and out and then let it sit in the sun for a few days to dry.

If any teeth are loose or missing (you may have to search the bucket in which the skull was in before dumping it out), rinse them off with clean water as well and put in a container for later installment back into the skull. Then follow the steps of bleaching and finishing as explained in the beetles method. The maceration method is ideal if you live out in the country with no, or hardly any neighbors, and in warmer climates where it does not get very cold during the winter.

Skull Cleaning by Simmering Method:

Another method commonly used is to simmer (not boil) the skulls. Skin the skull and cut off the biggest chunks of meat as described above. You can then either soak the skull for a week or so in a bucket of water to soften up the tissue (which is preferred), or go ahead and simmer it in a pot with water and sal soda (sodium carbonate), or baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) works well too.

Never boil a skull as this can do some serious damage to the bones. Just simmer the skull in the brew until the meat comes off easily, almost like cooking a soup bone. The time for this varies according to how dry the meat is on the skull. That's where presoaking the skull in water cuts down on the simmering time.

Once the skull is simmered long enough to where the meat can be peeled off easily, take it out and clean it under running water. Then follow the above steps for drying, bleaching, and finishing.

Skull Cleaning by Bag Method:

This method is not as popular as the other three, but it is effective nevertheless. It works best during the hot summer months. Skin the skull and remove the big chunks of meat. Place the skull in aplastic bag and close it up. Then just let it sit in the sun for a few weeks. Insects will find their way into the bag. And the heat inside the bag will encourage bacteria growth.

Check the skull every few days. Once you can see the meat deteriorating and falling off, it is time to take the skull out.

Again, clean it under running water and make sure the brain is completely gone. If not, remove it with either a small wirehook or needlenose pliers, or if it is soft, just rinse it out.

Then follow the above mentioned steps for bleaching and finishing.
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Old 02-15-2005, 12:32 PM
  #14  
Nontypical Buck
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Alexandria, Minnesota, USA
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Default RE: How doyou get to the skull?

I bury in the dirt up to the bases. Pull it out of the ground mid summer. Any remaining hide peels right off.
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