DIY European Mount

European mounts have gained in popularity over the past ten years.  They’re aesthetically pleasing and as well as being a less expensive alternative to a shoulder mount, they take up less space.  They also run in the $100 to $150 range.  In my opinion, that’s too much money to pay somebody to strip a skull and make it bright white.  For under $10 and one hour worth of actual work, you can produce a professional quality European mount.

My dad did his first European mount around 1995.  It was a heavy 8 point he killed on Thanksgiving week in West Virginia.  It took hours.  It was a gross, tedious process that yielded a passable, yet lacking end result.  Since then, we’ve done dozens and the technique has refined quite a bit.  Of all the ways we’ve done these over the years, the following method is the easiest and yields the best result.

1. I’m going to use a bear skull because it’s the middle of summer and this is all that was in the freezer.  A whitetail skull would be the same process, just try and keep the antlers out of the water.  More on that later.

FrozenBearSkull

2.  In a bucket, dump a couple heaping palm fulls of Arm & Hammer washing powder and two caps full of concentrated Lysol.  Fill the bucket with water deep enough to submerge the skull(if you were doing a deer skull, you could set the skull on a couple of bricks in the bucket and cover it up to the antler burrs).  Cover this and leave it sit undisturbed outside for a week.  The washing powder is mostly sodium carbonate which is a pretty strong base with a pH of around 11.  This alkaline solution denatures the proteins in the meat and fat and basically liquifies them.  The lysol keeps the smell to a minimum.  

WashingPowder

3.  After the washing powder works for a week, transfer the skull to a pot big enough to hold it and cover with water.  Again if this was a deer skull, you could set it on a brick and fill it to the burrs.  Boil this for about an hour outside on a propane burner.  It’s important to note that you’re going to lose teeth.  A black bear has 42 of them and some of them are pretty small so it’s natural that this will happen.  Deer teeth are less likely to fall out, but keep an eye on them.  When you find them, save them.  You can glue them in later.cookpot

 

4.  The skull should come out of the boil clean.  All the meat that was attached is long gone.  Blow it out with compressed air.  Mix a good bit of Dawn dishwashing soap with water and dunk your skull.  This will leech the grease out of the bone and prevent the final product from being yellow.  Leave this to soak for at least three weeks.   Every week, mix up new water and soap and change it out.

Bear Skull

5.  After the degreasing soak, let the skull dry thoroughly.  Now comes the bleaching. Clorox has no use here.  Even diluted, it will make the bone brittle and powdery.  Drug store peroxide is too weak and so is oxyclean.  Get some Clairol Basic White and a bottle of Salon Care 40 Volume from a beauty supply store.  Make sure you get the liquid Salon Care and not the gel.  The powder and peroxide will run about $25 out the door but you can do a lot of skulls with it.  Skull Bleach

 

6.  Mix to a soupy paste.  This stuff has a pretty strong smell so do this outside and it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to wear some gloves.  You probably don’t have to apply it as thick as I did here, but I wanted to make sure you could see it.  You can wrap it in plastic wrap or just leave it out.  The warmer the better.  SkullBleaching

 

6.  After a day or so, the bleaching paste will be completely dry.  Using an old tooth brush, flake it all off and give it a good brush down.  It should be bright white.  Bleached Skull3

7.  Glue your missing teeth back in and hit it with a shot of rattle can clear coat and you’re done.  EuropeanBearSkull

 

I kept the lower jaw intact on this one because I wanted the whole skull to set on a shelf.  If this was a deer or if you wanted to display it on a plaque, you could.  Here’s another bear skull on a 3 dollar craft store plaque.

Eurobear

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