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.
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.
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.
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 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.