Friday Classic: European Mount – Pitfalls

Over the years I’ve done a handful of european mounts myself. It’s always tedious and doesn’t turn out as well as it would if done by a professional. But I like the process and often don’t want to throw down the money to have a taxidermist do the job.

This year I had decent goat that I wanted to keep the skull of, but I didn’t think it warranted a professional job. Additional motivation was provided when my son decided that the antelope head was pretty much the coolest thing he’s ever seen. For the last week he demanded to see the head as often as possible.

Together we skinned the head, removed the jaw and scraped off as much meat as possible. My son was mesmerized and often warned me:

“Don’t hurt the buck”

“Don’t hurt the ear”

“Don’t hurt the teeth”

At every turn I would remind him that we can’t hurt him “He’s already dead”. By the end he grasped the concept, reinforcing it to his sister later.

We were right on track. By the time the kids had to go to bed we had the skull scraped and boiling over a propane camp stove in the garage. Before I went to bed I turned off the burner, removed the scull from boiling water, scraped off a bit more tissue and let it sit on the counter for the night. This repetitive process would continue for the next couple of days.

But leaving the garage I made a significant error.

The next morning, I let the dogs out and later went to feed them, they were nowhere to be found. The search didn’t take long, I had connected these dots before. One garage door was open. The skull was not on the work bench. Just behind the garage were the two labs, they had eaten the entire skull in under 30 minutes.

It was hard to blame them, it’s what they do. And I was the one who left the garage door open. A trike might have been in front of the sensor and caused it not to close, maybe I never pushed the button. Either way the outcome is the same.

SBB_4560On the off chance you are working on a european mount and manage to keep your canines away, here are two hot tips I picked up from a neighbor who has a ton of experience in this area. I can confirm the merit of the first tip and was eager to try the second:

  • For anything smaller than elk use an ammo can instead of a pot to boil your skull in. It fits a deer or antelope sized skull perfectly, keeps the antlers out of the water better than a pot and means you don’t have to heat up as much water.
  • After you have boiled your skull for quite awhile, put it in a plastic milk crate and then spray it with a pressure washer. My neighbor swears it works like a charm for removing some of the tough to get at material, specifically the brains. The crate keeps you from chasing a bouncing scull all over the driveway. If you don’t have your own pressure washer head to the car wash.

Let us know if these work for you and if you have any other good tips we could try the next time around.

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