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Thread: Dall sheep horn removal

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    Default Dall sheep horn removal

    Does anyone have any tricks to remove the horns of a sheep? I've simmered the skull for a couple of hours and have it nice and prepped for the next steps but can't get the horns off. I've let it sit in a plastic bag for a year and also have been hitting it on the garage floor every couple of weeks with no success. Do I need to simmer it again to soften the tissue?

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    Member 0321Tony's Avatar
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    Seen a video where a guy was throwing the skull of a bighorn down on the concrete to knock them loose.

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    I believe you will have to simmer them off now,, the soft tissue that adheres the horn to the base will be dried out after a year I would bet. Often so cool here in the fall that bacteria never gets going enough to rot them off. I lightly simmered mine off from this fall,, I had bagged them for 6 weeks and then simmered them just hot enough to loosen the flesh and twisted them off. This can discolor the horn so go slow and try to only get enough horn in to get them loose, should take a few inches. Simmer wrestle, repeat until they pot off. Use a saw to cut the last couple inches of the skull horn bases and remove the flesh from inside there too. Use only water.....

    Kind of like this, only I used a steel 5 gallon can with the top cut out and did not submerge the horns like he did, just a bit of the bases to wick the steam up into the horn base.

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    Member akrstabout's Avatar
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    I tied mine shut in the garage in a black trash bag for about two weeks. Popped off easily. If ya simmered before just letting rot ya mighta missed the easy time frame. Careful simmering as horns can get mushy, seen it with my goat.


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    So so so foul smelling hahahaha. Clean enough after soaking w dawn and washing soda ya could drink from em. Kept them propped up to hold the liquid.


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    Quote Originally Posted by akrstabout View Post
    I tied mine shut in the garage in a black trash bag for about two weeks. Popped off easily. If ya simmered before just letting rot ya mighta missed the easy time frame. Careful simmering as horns can get mushy, seen it with my goat.


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    How hot was it where you left your horns to rot off? 2 weeks seems fast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coueshunter105 View Post
    How hot was it where you left your horns to rot off? 2 weeks seems fast.

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    Just in my garage. 50 degrees or slightly warmer. Don't turn on unit heater till oct, live here in anchorage. There was lots of maggots if that info matters, maybe they helped?? It look some force to pop them loose but they were wiggling so I went for it after a few days since I had noticed they were loosing up. I think it was a few days passed two weeks. I couldn't stand it any longer hahahahahaha


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    It should never take hours of simmering to pop off a horn. You will damage them if you are not careful. At this point I would take a very small drill bit and put a series of very small holes up the back of the horn. Drill right into the bone, but not through the other side. That allows water to infiltrate inside the horn. Then Id dunk the whole thing in a bucket or rubber maid container of water and cover it up. Make sure the whole thing is covered up with water. Put it on a heating pad so the temperature comes up a bit and let it sit a few weeks. It should start to loosen up at that point. If it does, then wrap the skull/horn in soaking wet towels, then in a big plastic bag, drain the water an put it back in the container. Cover it up, leave the heating pad on. Check again in a few weeks. That should do it.
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    Hmmm, in the future try taking a knife and cut all of the tissue/membrane as close as possible to the base of the horns. Get this area wet with water and then seal in a trash bag and place in a heated room (50-60 degrees). After 2 weeks or so the horns should twist off or bang the horn on concrete to knock them loose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpost View Post
    Hmmm, in the future try taking a knife and cut all of the tissue/membrane as close as possible to the base of the horns. Get this area wet with water and then seal in a trash bag and place in a heated room (50-60 degrees). After 2 weeks or so the horns should twist off or bang the horn on concrete to knock them loose.
    Ah ha! I did that knife trick. Good info. Totally forgot about that. Plus I think I stressed the horns every few days by wiggling hard.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Hughiam View Post
    It should never take hours of simmering to pop off a horn. You will damage them if you are not careful. At this point I would take a very small drill bit and put a series of very small holes up the back of the horn. Drill right into the bone, but not through the other side. That allows water to infiltrate inside the horn. Then Id dunk the whole thing in a bucket or rubber maid container of water and cover it up. Make sure the whole thing is covered up with water. Put it on a heating pad so the temperature comes up a bit and let it sit a few weeks. It should start to loosen up at that point. If it does, then wrap the skull/horn in soaking wet towels, then in a big plastic bag, drain the water an put it back in the container. Cover it up, leave the heating pad on. Check again in a few weeks. That should do it.
    Will soaking the horns in the water that long discolor the horns?

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. They have to give sometime!

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    Quote Originally Posted by aksnagger View Post
    Will soaking the horns in the water that long discolor the horns?

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. They have to give sometime!
    It shouldn't change it. Heat definitely will change the color. I would check it periodically for condition and to see if they are getting loose.
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    Quote Originally Posted by akrstabout View Post
    Just in my garage. 50 degrees or slightly warmer. Don't turn on unit heater till oct, live here in anchorage. There was lots of maggots if that info matters, maybe they helped?? It look some force to pop them loose but they were wiggling so I went for it after a few days since I had noticed they were loosing up. I think it was a few days passed two weeks. I couldn't stand it any longer hahahahahaha


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    Thanks for your tips! My brother and I just rotted some off. I flew them back to Arizona, and found out that doing it inside with a consistent temperature is better than outside where it fluctuates. Popped them off in less than 5 days after bringing them off the roof. and while they smell horrible, the horn still looks awesome and that's what's important.

    One other tip is that we cleaned the skull (horns seran wrapped and taped) before rotting them off, then taped a bag around the bases of the horns and left it nose straight up in the air.

    I boiled off a set of Desert Bighorn horns last year with Whitebone Creations process and I would strongly recommend not ever ever ever doing that to a bighorn. It takes hours and hours and in the end, the time it stayed in the pot totally ruined the beautiful natural varnish that sheep had put on during its 10 years on the mountian. They are dry and matte looking now.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Coueshunter105 View Post

    I boiled off a set of Desert Bighorn horns last year with Whitebone Creations process and I would strongly recommend not ever ever ever doing that to a bighorn. It takes hours and hours and in the end, the time it stayed in the pot totally ruined the beautiful natural varnish that sheep had put on during its 10 years on the mountian. They are dry and matte looking now.
    If I recall a taxidermist friend of mine used to rub linseed oil on horns and they ended up looking great.

    Oh, and btw....As was mentioned above, I never had any trouble getting horns off just using a longer, thin bladed knife to work in around the bases. I'd work the knife in for awhile and smack the skull plate down on something hard. Work the knife in for awhile again and smack the horns down again. From what I remember it didn't take too terribly long before they came off......
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coueshunter105 View Post
    Thanks for your tips! My brother and I just rotted some off. I flew them back to Arizona, and found out that doing it inside with a consistent temperature is better than outside where it fluctuates. Popped them off in less than 5 days after bringing them off the roof. and while they smell horrible, the horn still looks awesome and that's what's important.

    One other tip is that we cleaned the skull (horns seran wrapped and taped) before rotting them off, then taped a bag around the bases of the horns and left it nose straight up in the air.

    I boiled off a set of Desert Bighorn horns last year with Whitebone Creations process and I would strongly recommend not ever ever ever doing that to a bighorn. It takes hours and hours and in the end, the time it stayed in the pot totally ruined the beautiful natural varnish that sheep had put on during its 10 years on the mountian. They are dry and matte looking now.



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    You're welcome. My horns slightly discolored where some soap mixture spilled. I filled em up w warm soapy water and had washing soda mixed in I believe. I think the washing soda is what caused some slight bleaching. Few times of that and no stink left at all. Fleshy stuff peeled off or with a little scraping after each soaking maybe. I can't remember after getting married n having a 13 mo old now hahahahahaha. All right after sheep hunt basically.


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    Quote Originally Posted by akrstabout View Post
    You're welcome. My horns slightly discolored where some soap mixture spilled. I filled em up w warm soapy water and had washing soda mixed in I believe. I think the washing soda is what caused some slight bleaching. Few times of that and no stink left at all. Fleshy stuff peeled off or with a little scraping after each soaking maybe. I can't remember after getting married n having a 13 mo old now hahahahahaha. All right after sheep hunt basically.


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    Ours is in the peroxide right now. Heres a few pics of what it looked like after the sheaths rotted off. The skull is really discolored because the hunter skinned the face off several days before getting it in the freezer. I strongly recommend anyone whos not going to mount their sheep to not skin the face off until minutes before they clean it. And for guys who are mounting their sheep, I still think you should do a Euro because good taxidermy takes forever and a nice looking euro is so nice to have until the sheep is mounted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coueshunter105 View Post
    Ours is in the peroxide right now. Heres a few pics of what it looked like after the sheaths rotted off. The skull is really discolored because the hunter skinned the face off several days before getting it in the freezer. I strongly recommend anyone whos not going to mount their sheep to not skin the face off until minutes before they clean it. And for guys who are mounting their sheep, I still think you should do a Euro because good taxidermy takes forever and a nice looking euro is so nice to have until the sheep is mounted.

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    Interesting point that I'll have to keep in mind. The horns popped off finally after soaking for a week and a half. Well one came off after two days. I didn't have the option with the heating blanket but kept them in a bucket with water and a warm garage. After a couple of days I drilled a couple of small holes in the back to get the stubborn on off. Now, off to whitening!

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    Quote Originally Posted by aksnagger View Post
    Interesting point that I'll have to keep in mind. The horns popped off finally after soaking for a week and a half. Well one came off after two days. I didn't have the option with the heating blanket but kept them in a bucket with water and a warm garage. After a couple of days I drilled a couple of small holes in the back to get the stubborn on off. Now, off to whitening!
    Glad it worked out for you. Ive done hundreds of sheep from Dalls to Urials and have never NOT been able to get them to come off using the rotting method.

    Hugh
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