Have you ever wanted to display your hard-earned archery harvest, only to change your mind due to the high cost of taxidermy fees? Well, all is not lost. There is an alternative, one that you can do yourself at very little cost and with very little work: European skull mounts. I am sure you have seen what I am talking about. It is the fleshed and whitened skull of whatever game was harvested, be it from a mule deer hunt, a white-tailed buck, pig, bear, or any other game or predator. Take a look at our process, tips, and ideas for European deer mounts.
European Skull Mounting Process
Wondering how to make a European mount? There are four steps in the process:
Step one is skinning, which is the removal of the skin. It is the most tedious and labor-intensive part of the European skull mounting process. You can’t go wrong with this step of the project. All you need is a sharp paring or boning knife. You can damage the hide all you want because you will end up throwing it away. You can skip this step, but the time you save during this process will be lost in the boiling process.
The next step is to boil your mount. You boil everything out of your harvest, except for the skull. You will need a few items to complete this process:
- A pan large enough to accommodate the head
- A heating method to bring the water to a gentle boil
- Optional: I like to add three to four tablespoons of dishwashing detergent with a reputation for cutting grease or fat
The longer you boil your project, the easier it is to get all the flesh off of your project. I typically boil for 14 to 15 hours, but this can be done in several stages. Once you have boiled it for the desired length of time, you can spray it with a jet stream of water from a hose. This really cleans the project nicely. Make sure you spray into the nooks and crevices to remove any tissue.
Pro Tip: When discarding the water and flesh from the boiling water, take special care that you do not throw away any teeth that may have fallen out.
For the whitening process, I recommend the use of hydrogen peroxide purchased from a beauty supply house. I use the 40% version because it’s the highest concentration that can be sold to a non-licensed beautician. (This may vary by state.) It comes in two forms: slurry and clear liquid. Both work great for European skull mounts. The amount to use depends on the size of your pail and the size of your project. The more you use it, the faster it works and the whiter your project will be. Leave it in the whitening solution as long as you want and are satisfied with the results. Just like during the boiling process, be careful when draining the whitening solution. The whitening process may have dislodged some of the teeth, and you will hate to lose them.
Pro Tip: Dislodged teeth can always be reattached with any glue available.
Pro Tip: The industry discourages the use of Clorox, as it tends to be too harsh and eats into the bone.
When placing the skull of the European mount in the whitening solution, take caution if the harvest has antlers. You don’t want any portion of the antlers to become whitened. To stop this from occurring, wrap the bases of the antlers as close as possible to the rest of the project, to keep the whitening solution from contacting the antlers. Otherwise, the antlers will be whitened, causing two-toned antlers. I like to coat the antlers and bases with some automotive axle grease followed by plastic and lastly some adhesive tape.
The final process is the drying of your trophy. I like to use what mother nature provides for us: the sun. I place the head where it will encounter as many sun rays during the day as possible. I do this for several days to make sure it is completely dry. The sun’s rays also provide natural whitening properties. Make sure to keep the antlers wrapped during this process so they don’t become discolored.
European Deer Mount Ideas For Display
Once you have finished the four-step process, you can focus on how you will display your mount. You are limited only by your imagination. You can place it on a wall (mounting hardware available online), on a pedestal, or on wall décor. You can even decorate your project. There are archery celebrities that make lots of money decorating skulls of the European mount with paintings or colored beads. The ideas for European deer mounts are truly endless.
Harvest & Handy Work
I enjoyed the European skull mounting project process and am proud to display, not only my harvest but my handy work, as well. I’m confident that you will feel the same when learning how to make a European mount and getting creative with all the European deer mounts ideas out there. Check out 60X Custom Strings for all the bow strings, archery tools, and equipment needed on your next hunt, as well as our bow string blog for more expert advice!