Last Chance Cleaning

It seems my last chance buck is staying true to its name. After two years of alternating between the barn in winter and an ant hill in summer, it appeared I needed a more drastic solution to cleaning it. Given that I plan on putting my possessions in storage and leaving the country next year, it appears this summer is my last chance to turn this skull into the european mount that I intended.

I had already taken the first step and cleaned off as much of the hair, meat, etc. that I could from the skull. The problem is that I did that last year, so by now it was very dry and slightly rotten, I opted not to post a picture of this, but trust me, it was bad. I then assembled my cooker, and installed the head, all while holding my breath.

The Setup

The Setup

 

I used a propane tiger torch propped on a rock as a burner, which then heated an old wash basin sitting atop two cinder blocks. Any large pot and burner will do, as long as it will fit the skull and heat the water to near boiling. After much research I have found that actually boiling the water is bad for the skull. Finally I wired the antlers to the edges, some people tie them to lumber, the key is to keep them out of the water to avoid discoloration. I opted to put the skull in before the water started to get hot so as to avoid burning my hands while wiring the skull to the right depth.

Initially I had just used plain water but once it was hot I decided that a grease cutting dish soap might be a good plan, it seemed to work well for me. While the water heated I gathered up some tools to help scrape and clean off what I could. I used a long set of pliers, a putty knife, and a heavy bristled dish scrubber.  The dish scrubber can no longer be used on dishes.

Essential Tools

Essential Tools

This was my first attempt at cleaning a skull so I wasn’t sure what would work, in the end I found that the putty knife worked best, while the dish scrubber was just shy of useless. The technique I used was simple but time consuming. I heated the large basin to a simmer and every few hours I would pull the head out and scrape, brush, and grab at it with the pliers… in no particular order.

Elbow Grease Turned Out To Be A Key Ingredient

Elbow Grease Turned Out To Be A Key Ingredient

 

In total it took somewhere in the neighborhood of nine hours and five beers to complete. That said it didn’t require constant attention so I was able to do some yard work and visit with a friend while I cleaned it.

All Cleaned Up

All Cleaned Up

 

All said and done, I think it looks pretty good cleaned up. It has a bit of a natural yellow colour to it and I am told that many people opt bleach or paint it for that bright white finish. I may in the future paint it, but for now I do believe I’ll leave it.


Posted in How-To, Huntingwith 3 comments.

Comments

  • Kyle says:

    Some good eats right there!

    • Tyson says:

      Throw in some carrots and potatoes and you’ve got yourself a stew goin.

    • Denny Flora says:

      Go the car wash and spray it off with their power washer or use your own if you have one while it is still warm. It saves a lot of work, believe me I did many like this. And when you done buy some cheap hydrogen peroxide and soak the head in it, the results will be pure white. Remember to tape the base of the antlers!!!!

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