Creating the best European skull mounts requires following the right taxidermy care in the field and after getting your animal home. In recent years, more and more hunters are taking the DIY approach to making their own European mounts as a fun way to enhance their hunting experiences.
Whether you want to create the mount yourself or rely on a qualified and experienced taxidermist, you still need to follow the right steps to prepare your skull mount for the best results.
Step #1: Field Dress Your Animal
If you intend to enjoy the meat from the animal, take the time to carefully field dress it to remove the “guts.” For large skull mounts like deer mounts, elk mounts, and beak skull mounts, you still want to make sure that you do not cut too far above the front legs when dressing the animal.
For smaller game animals, if you want a complete skeleton of the animal, carefully field dress it to remove the “guts,” and then place it into a plastic bag. Put the animal inside a cooler with ice.
Step #2: Remove the Skin from the Animal
You will need to carefully remove the skin from the animal, including the skull. Be careful to not jab the knife you are using into the skull, as this can damage it. Instead, make careful incisions around the neck and then slide the knife under the skin, in between the flesh, to loosen it.
Step #3: Remove the Head from the Animal
Once the skin has been removed from the animal, you will want to carefully remove the head from the animal. Once the head is removed, carefully remove the brains and the eyes.
If you are creating a skeleton of a smaller animal, then you would not remove the head, yet you would still remove the skin carefully and remove as much excess flesh as possible without damaging the bones.
Step #4: Deep Freeze the Animal
You need to preserve the animal by freezing it. You want to freeze it whether you are going to take the DIY approach or send the animal off to your taxidermist to create the skull mount or skeleton.
How to DIY a Skull Mount
You will need to invest in your own Dermestid beetle colony. You don’t need a large colony to clean skulls. A small colony of a few hundred beetles will work just fine. Just keep in mind that the speed of cleaning and the size of the skull will be different based on the size of your colony.
Larger colonies will clean skulls faster. If you only clean a few skulls every year, then maintaining a smaller colony is better than building a huge colony of thousands of beetles.
Once your Dermestid beetle colony is established, you just put the skull or small animal in with the beetles. The beetles will go to work at removing all the remaining flesh, fat, and any skin or hair you missed.
The best thing about using Dermestid beetles is they will not damage the bones or any delicate structures like other cleaning methods can and will do.
After the skull is cleaned, it is ready for mounting. You may want to whiten the skull using an appropriate whitener before mounting it.
To learn more about DIY skull cleaning, starting a Dermestid beetle colony, or instructions on how to ship your skull to have us clean it for you, please feel free to contact Kodiak Bones & Bugs Taxidermy at (907) 942-2847 today!