By Alex Killman of www.SoutheasternBowHunting.com
How To Do A European Mount The Right Way
Memories are great, but physical reminders of a successful hunt are even better. A European (skull) mount is one such reminder that is easier to create than you might think.
Separate deer head from carcass at the base of the skull.
Remove the bottom jaw.
Simmer the deer head in Oxi Clean and dish soap (DO NOT BOIL).
Remove all meat and clean out all skull cavities.
Whiten skull using Volume 40 creme.
Hang using a skull bracket.
1. Separate The Deer Head From The Carcass
If you’ve never separated a deer head from the carcass, it can seem like a daunting task, but you’ll soon find out that it’s one of the easiest parts of the process.
Simply take a very sharp knife and start at the base of the skull where it meets the neck. You’re going to cut from one side all the way to the other.
At the top of the skull, you’ll hit bone rather quickly, but the sides and bottom of the neck will take a little more work to cut all the way through.
Once you’ve hit bone all the way around the neck, you’re going to squeeze the body of the deer between your legs, grab the antlers (or the head if a doe), and begin to twist the head in a complete circle until the neck breaks loose.
The head should only be hanging on by meat now, which can be cut by your knife. The head should be free from the carcass now.
2. Remove The Bottom Jaw
Removing the bottom jaw is a little less straightforward, as there’s a tongue and a lot of connective tissue to deal with.
Simply start your knife in the “v” where the bottom lip and top lip meet, and start cutting straight back. Do this on both sides, cutting through all connective tissue until the bottom jaw is completely loose.
The more meat you remove now, the better. Anything still connected after this step is going to just be more work later on when simmering in the pot.
3. Simmer The Head (DO NOT BOIL)
This step of the process is almost always called “boiling” the deer head.
However, anyone who has done this a time or two knows that the intense heat of boiling it will make the skull brittle and will cause it to crack and separate in places.
Ask me how I know.
You’re going to need a pot large enough to fully submerge the deer head without covering the antlers. An outdoor, propane-fired burner and large pot is preferable.
You’ll want to pour in about 1/2 to 2/3 of a scoop of Oxi Clean detergent, as well as a liberal amount of dish soap, such as Dawn. Squeezing the soap bottle for 3-4 seconds is good enough.
It usually takes a while to get the water hot enough to simmer, and when this happens, the Oxi Clean is going to cause the water to want to rise rapidly if it’s too hot. Just work the propane valve to get it right in the sweet spot.
The sweet spot is where the water is just about boiling, and the Oxi Clean is foamy and covering the skull.
Remember to try and keep the antlers from being submerged as it can change their color a little.
Allow the skull to simmer now for around 30 minutes.
4. Remove All Meat And Clean Out Skull Cavities
Once the skull has simmered for around 30 minutes, carefully pull it out with one hand.
With a clothes hanger, metal rod, old toothbrush, or any other long, skinny tool, begin cleaning out the brain cavity through the small opening in the back of the skull.
This is one of the longest and most tedious parts of the process. Keep scraping and dipping back in the water to rinse out what you’ve dislodged.
Clean out the eye sockets, the nostrils, and all other cavities and crevasses the same way.
Next, take an old knife and scrape away all meat that is still hanging on to the skull.
When you’ve done all you can do, there will likely be pieces still hanging on.
Simply simmer for 15 additional minutes and get back to work. Repeat this as many times as necessary.
Once your skull is completely clean – or as close as you can possibly get it – I like to get a big container of salt and pour it through all the cavities.
The salt will cling to any small, remaining pieces of meat and dry it out. I’ll typically do this 2 to 3 times over a several-day period, just to make sure I get it all.
5. Whiten The Skull
Now that you’ve got a clean, dry skull that you’re proud of, you’re going to need a few items to whiten it. You’re going to need 40 Volume Creme Developer, rubber/thick latex gloves, and a shallow plastic bin large enough to sit the skull down in.
40 Volume Creme can be purchased through this link (Amazon) or at your local beauty supply store.
There is a Clear version and a Creme version. You want the Creme, as the Clear version runs like water and we want it to sit on the skull.
40 Volume is harsh on the skin, so the gloves are necessary.
*NOTE: keep 40 Volume Creme off of antlers, as it will whiten them. It’s not a big deal if you get a drip on them as long as you immediately take a wet paper towel and carefully remove it.
Once the skull is in the clear bin, begin pouring the creme all over the skull, keeping it away from the antlers. Use your gloved hand to smear it completely over every inch of the skull, top and bottom.
The teeth will likely have black on them, so make sure to coat them as well. Also, pour it in the nostrils and eye sockets, letting it get on any parts that will be seen.
Once you’ve got a good amount of Creme sitting in the bottom of the bin, stop pouring from the bottle and start picking it up out of the bin with your gloved hand, and finish smearing it everywhere on the skull, all the way up the pedicles.
Once you’re satisfied with how covered the skull is, sit it somewhere high or locked away so that no children or animals can get to it.
Let it sit for 24-48 hours. At that point, lay the skull on the ground away from plants or nice grass, and simply rinse the 40 Volume away.
It rinses away very easily. Rinse it off inside and out. If the skull is fresh, you’ll likely notice some yellowing still on the skull.
That is normal. A second Volume 40 bath is sometimes necessary to achieve the level of whiteness that you’re after.
If, however, you’re satisfied with it, move on to the final – and most satisfying – step.
6. Hang Using A Skull Bracket
Congratulations! You’ve made your first European style skull for mounting! Now, you just need to hang it.
We've got a number of fantastic deer skull mounts that are perfect for displaying your trophy. From The Bambi Bracket to the Buck Bracket.... Skull Bracket is the best skull mount to compliment to display your deer skull with. It’s a sleek design that looks great and isn’t too bulky. It holds your skull through the rear cavity.
Check out some of our favorite mounts below or shop them all by clicking HERE.