How to keep antler color?
I got a blacktail this weekend with some really nice orange antlers, and I think he'd make a great European mount. Will boiling the skull bleach the antlers white? Is there any way I could prevent this?
I wouldnt recommend boiling your skull..
Agree that "boiling" can be risky. I have "simmered" skulls carefully with success, but you really have to babysit them, and don't submerge the antlers in the water. Maceration or beetles will provide the best results for your situation, but if macerating try not to submerge the antler bases.
The coloration is somewhat superficial, and can easily be scratched off, so handle carefully. Once all of your cleaning, degreasing, and whitening are finished, I recommend a light coat of "flat" or "satin" Krylon spray on the antlers to protect the reddish color pigments from scratches (that's not necessary, but may help in the long term).
I worked on one from the SE last year that was "reddish" as you described, and they are really cool! Here are a few pix:
Boiling the Skull , WILL NOT damage the skull Or antlers >>>>>>> IF DONE PROPERLY <<<<<<.
Most people think you just boil them till all of the meat falls off the skull. NOT !!!
As Lonewolf said, SIMMER boil & remove meat by cutting it away.
A PROPPERLY boiled skull will look EXACTLY like a PROPPERLY Beetle cleaned skull & you wont have to put up with the stink.
What people dont realize is the bugs only eat the ROTTING meat & sometimes takes a LONG time for them to finish the job.
Boiling & cleaning PROPPERLY can be done in one day if done right.
I would rather get it done & in the degreasing solution than smell rotting flesh for a week or more.
I did this last year for the first time and got great results. Indeed, not so much a boil as a simmer. I used twenty mule borax mixed with dawn soap for the degreaser. I put a galvanized bucket on my crab boiler, filled with water, tied a piece of 2x2 across the bases so the skull won't go so deep into the bucket and lighten the bases. Some suggest tin foil around the bases, but I didn't use anything and maybe have just a bit of lightening on the bottom of the bases. I even kept the nasal bones somehow....probably beginner's luck.
Essentially you want a sharp knife, a dull knife, a pliers, and a piece of wire hanger for pokin stuff out. Once it gets good and hot you ladle it over the cap since it's not all the way in the water and the heat has a lot to do with the tissue "falling off". It took me between two and three hours but I was meticulous, and very cautious. But, it looks great, I kept the color (were also very dark antlers) and it's a great way to spend an evening drinkin beer and handling your trophy....take that as you will.
Since you're in Juneau, bring it on by....would be good for me to see a set of antlers at least somewhere this year. None in the woods yet for me. Send me a pm if you like.