‘Tis the Season; European Mounting Method
The harvest season is upon us and many hunters and huntresses are successfully filling their tags with trophy bucks. This in return poses the question on what to do to ensure the preservation of you deer. Do you mount the buck? Do you cut off the skull cap and mount the antlers to a board? Or do you pursue the European mounting method? These options will present the animal in a way that will preserve your memories and allow you to cherish them for years to come. But how do you decide what to do with your buck?
Unfortunately, the main cause for such uncertainty is generally the cost of the endeavor. Not many people have an extra $500+ laying around. Not to mention deer season is tucked right before the holidays season, so convincing your spouse to let you splurge on a mount right before Christmas might be as difficult as killing that long pursued buck. So, to combat this possible argument, Cro-Mag Outdoors has provided steps on how to make a European Mount, which is a tasteful, inexpensive and practical option for displaying your trophy.
Step 1: Removal of the Skull
Skin the deer all the way up to the base of the antlers. This will expose the back of the skull of the deer. Next, remove the head from the body of the deer. This can be done by severing the head just above the first vertebrae at the base of the skull. There is a ball and socket at this intersection connected by membrane and a spinal cord. Take your knife and pierce it in between the ball and socket and cut through this membrane and cord. It will take some work, but be patient. Once it is through, cut the remaining muscle and remove the head from the body.
Step 2: Hide and Jaw Removal
*Only skin one side of the head at a time.
Make an incision on the top of the skull and cut all the way to the tip of the nose. This is the easiest method that I have found over the years. Start at the center incision and begin skinning the hide from the skull. With a quick flick of the wrist, work the edge of the knife at the skull, skin intersection (cut the white tissue). Keep working this intersection, until you are past the eyes and roof of the mouth. Take your knife and cut around the base of the antlers, you don’t have to be perfect but get most of the hair away from the antler base. Skin past the teeth and to the back of the skull and remove the hide. Don’t worry about skinning the bottom jaw, because it is not needed for a European mount. Skin the remaining half of the head, until all the skull and meat are exposed.
The bottom jaw is connected by a muscle and a long piece of bone that extends past the eyeballs and hinges at the back of the skull. To remove this, begin cutting the muscle behind the rearmost molars of the deer. This will start to loosen the jaw. Grab the top skull and bottom jaw and separate them by pulling. As the jaw begins to separate, cut the connective muscles in this joint. Keep working the jaw until it is loose.
Turn the skull over and place the antlers on the floor. The skull should become a tripod supported by the antlers and nose of the deer. Be careful to not break the nose, and pull the jaw towards the back of the skull. It will hinge and “pop”. There are 2 little bones that will break at the back of the skull, don’t worry they are insignificant to the mount and will come out after the skull is boiled. Cut the remaining connective tissue and the jaw will be removed.
Step 3: Meat and Tissue Removal
Once the skin and jaw are removed from the skull, you can begin the cleaning stage. Cut the meat and tissue from the skull. This includes the roof of the mouth, eyeballs, brain and any other soft tissue. Try and get all the big chunks of meat off the skull. Once the skull is rough cleaned proceed to step 4.
Step 4: Finishing the Skull
There are 2 options that you can pursue.
Option 1: Beetles
Take the prepped skull to someone who has Dermestid beetles that can eat the remaining flesh of the skull.
Option 2: Boiling
Find a pot large enough to hold the skull, fill the pot with water and place over a heat source, a propane turkey fryer or a fire. Once the water is boiling, place the skull into the pot. Try not to submerge the base of the antlers because they may discolor from the boiling process. Boil the skull until the meat begins to fall off the bone.
Once the meat starts to fall from the bone, take the skull out of the water. Use a pressure washer to blast away any of the remaining meat from the skull. Take care around the nose because there are fragile bones in this area. If there is any remaining meat that will not come off, place it back into the boiling water and repeat the process until the skull is clean. Let the skull air dry for a few days. If you like an off-white skull color, your European mount is finished. If you want a bright white skull, there are product that you can buy online to achieve the desired look.
Hang this skull on the wall, or mount it to a plaque. The options are only as limited as your ideas. But following these steps will provide you with a finished European skull mount. Take your time and take pride in preserving your trophy! Push yourself to learn and grow every day, and you will be able to accomplish all your goals from harvesting larger bucks, to mounting your own deer. Cro-Mag Outdoors is here to help you along the way. To learn more tips and tactics to help hone your skill click here.
Remember, having the desire to become successful in hunting, takes a mindset change and that is the hardest part in this endeavor. We can help you with changing this mindset, and once you have changed you will appreciate the hunt more, and start understanding what being a sportsman/woman is all about. Remember our mission is to redefine tradition. Challenge traditional thinking and push others to do the same. We must dedicate ourselves to hone in on our primal instincts and combine them with new methodologies and technologies to truly master evolution.