If you’re like most deer hunters, you want to make sure that your trophy looks as good as possible. For many hunters, this means that you will want to whiten your deer skull. You can pay someone to whiten the trophy skull for you, but it’s actually relatively easy to do yourself – and you can save yourself some money in the process.
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“How To Clean A Whitetal Deer Skull” by Whitebone Creations Hunting
If you want to test whitening a skull for a European Mount yourself, you need a few essential materials.
- Protective Gear
- Large enough pot or container to fit the whole skull
- Pressure washer
- Knife, Tongs
- 40 volume Hydrogen Peroxide
- Detergent (dishwashing liquid)
- Fire Pit / Heat source
Do not use regular bleach! Now, let’s get to the actual procedure:
Cleaning your hunting trophies thoroughly before bleaching is key to an attractive white finish. If you want, keep the skull intact or cut it in half. Put on your protective gear and begin with skinning. You should try to remove as much flesh, blood, and brain matter as possible.
Remove the lower jaw: This allows easier access to the eye sockets, which contain a lot of tallowy fat that, if left in, can cook into your skull.
To directly access the material behind the nose, you’ll also need to remove the fine, bony structure inside it. If you want to preserve the skull, rinse it through the spinal opening to remove brain matter.
You can use a clothes hanger, stick, or tweezers to help remove brain matter.
Boil The Skull
This is what you need the pot for. Fill it up with water and heat it until the water is simmering. Now it’s time to put the skull into the water.
If you boil bones for too long, they become brittle and break apart easily. So don’t let the skull sit in boiling hot water – simmering is just about right. The bigger the skull, the longer it will take. Plan 4-5 hours.
This will help remove all the small pieces of flesh and fat from the skull. After this initial simmering, change the water and add 250ml of detergent. Simmer again and get rid of any grease that was left over after the first clean. Let it simmer for another 2 hours.
After the second simmering round, drain the water and fill the pot back up with fresh water. Add another 50 ml of detergent and bring the temperature down to 40° C. Let it simmer for at least 2 more hours. It may be necessary to repeat these steps several times if you have large skulls.
Ensure all hidden material is removed by using your pressure washer one final time.
Whitening: Hydrogen Peroxide
This is the actual whitening part. Did you know that peroxide works better if the skull is still heated?
Michael Gibson over at http://www.sportingshooter.com.au/ says that “The whitening process is best performed when the skull is heated, on a warm day or next to the fire. Peroxide is activated with heat so the hotter the bone is the better the peroxide will penetrate and the faster it will perform.”
Wear your gloves and protective wear! Protect the base of the antlers with shrinkwrap or silicone tape. Make sure not to get any peroxide onto the antlers. Coat the skull thoroughly in peroxide. It may take several rounds of peroxide to achieve the desired “whitneness.”
Again, wear gloves and protective gear. Prepare the pot with a mixture of half water and half peroxide. Then submerge the skull in the bath, letting it rest until it becomes white. Do NOT let the antlers come in contact with the peroxide solution. This process could take several days. Don’t leave the skull too long – it might dry out. Rinse!
Coating or Sealing
The coating is not necessarily required, but I recommend doing it anyway because it makes the skull look much nicer, cleaner and helps protect its color. Be careful with what you are sealing the skull, as some sealant products can come with a glossy or shiny finish!
Some people recommend Krylon Matte Finish, Paraloid B72, Elmers Glue, or even Beeswax. I suggest testing different coatings before applying them.
You should also consider how durable the coating needs to be. If you want something solid, then try epoxy resin. But if you only want something temporary, then go ahead and apply whatever you like.
Besides cleaning, simmering, and manually removing meat and fat, there’s an easier way to remove everything without using chemicals. Skeletonizing removes the soft tissue while leaving behind the skull.
How Long to Leave Deer Skulls in the Ground?
Depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, and the presence of insects, this process can take months! It is also possible that the burying causes yellowing or other discoloration of the skull.
While the skulls of most animals, such as deer, taken during established hunting seasons within state and federal regulations are legal to possess, some species are protected by state and federal law.
There are several ways to do it if you want to clean and whiten skulls for a Euro Mount. The method described above is probably the easiest way to accomplish the task. However, if you don’t mind waiting for some time, you could also bury the skull for a more extended period. This process is known as skeletonization.
The fastest way to prepare a (deer) skull is to simmer and clean it thoroughly several times. Once clean, use Hydrogen Peroxide for the actual whitening – If you want to, you can seal the skull with Krylon Matte Finish.