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Thread: Sheep Horn ??s

  1. #1
    Member 8x57 Mauser's Avatar
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    Question Sheep Horn ??s

    Some questions for you sheep hunters:

    1) How tough is it to remove Dall Sheep horns? Soak 'em for a while and twist 'em off, or do you need to have a taxidermist do it to avoid breaking the bases?

    2) What does it take to clean the flesh out from the inside? Do they tend to come off the bases pretty clean, or does one need to scour the insides? Would sending them to the beetle guys be a good idea?

    3) How far down are they solid? Maybe a better way to ask this is at what part the horns start to be hollow? Are the lamb tips solid horn, and the next year's growth hollow, or do they have to be three or four before there starts to be void space inside the horn?

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    If you've ever seen a skull without the horn, you would see that the spongy core is perhaps ten to twelve inches in length max. When I shot my 42" bighorn ram, I didn't bother taking the horns off to clean them out. They just dried as is and are fine. I'm not sure but taking them off might affect the B&C scoring eligibility.

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    After the skull has dried for a week or two, you can pop the horns off by throwing them on the ground. They'll start to loosen up and then you can twist them off. There's a good bit of flesh attached to the core so I'd recommend you clean it out or they'll smell pretty bad. After you've removed the horns you can boil the skull in water and get most of the flesh off. if you have a microwave oven that's large enough you can also loosen horns by zapping them. I've done that with mountain goat and pronghorn antelope horns.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 8x57 Mauser View Post
    Some questions for you sheep hunters:

    1) How tough is it to remove Dall Sheep horns? Soak 'em for a while and twist 'em off, or do you need to have a taxidermist do it to avoid breaking the bases?

    2) What does it take to clean the flesh out from the inside? Do they tend to come off the bases pretty clean, or does one need to scour the insides? Would sending them to the beetle guys be a good idea?

    3) How far down are they solid? Maybe a better way to ask this is at what part the horns start to be hollow? Are the lamb tips solid horn, and the next year's growth hollow, or do they have to be three or four before there starts to be void space inside the horn?
    DO NOT soak them! You want them dry. I do a little taxidermy work on the side and we let them dry for a few weeks and work under the edge a bit with a flat ended screw driver to clean and separate the edge from the core. We would then lay a 2x4 flat on the asphalt, grab one side of the horns, and whack the base against the 2x4. Repeat as necessary. The drier they are, the easier they come apart. We then boil the skull plate in washing soda and
    allow it to dry before mounting. The actual horns can be salted/boraxed on the inside to remove all moisture. I would say the cores are 4-5 inches long and tapered, so the horns are hollow to that point.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    I was told to put them in a trash bag, it'll help speed things up. Then lettem sit and they'll come off easy.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by spoiled one View Post
    DO NOT soak them! You want them dry. I do a little taxidermy work on the side and we let them dry for a few weeks and work under the edge a bit with a flat ended screw driver to clean and separate the edge from the core. We would then lay a 2x4 flat on the asphalt, grab one side of the horns, and whack the base against the 2x4. Repeat as necessary. The drier they are, the easier they come apart. We then boil the skull plate in washing soda and
    allow it to dry before mounting. The actual horns can be salted/boraxed on the inside to remove all moisture. I would say the cores are 4-5 inches long and tapered, so the horns are hollow to that point.
    I agree with this

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by TradBow View Post
    I was told to put them in a trash bag, it'll help speed things up. Then lettem sit and they'll come off easy.
    Trad...just curious what Charlie does??? Just kidding, bud.

  8. #8

    Default I went through this last year...

    I put my ram in four layers of heavy duty garbage bags and then into a large rubbermaid box. I then put the box in the furnace room thinking it would speed up the rotting process. I read on a taxidermy forum that this was the way to do it. I am not a taxidermist. I learned a few things... 1) If you are married and want to give your wife a bad case of the red ass just wait until the stink comes out of the box. How it does, I don't know, the bags were knotted and taped and the lid secured on the box. It still did, and when I came home from work my wife's arms were crossed and her eyebrows were way up on top of her forehead. Instead, put the box on the roof of the house or shop where a bear or more likely a dog won't get to it. 2) While fresh, take a piece of wire and pull the brain out of the brainstem hole in the skull. I didn't, and my method of removing the horns from the skull was different than described above. I placed a rubber mat on the ground and threw the skull down on the mat so the horns struck the mat in the same manner as two rams butting heads. Because I didn't remove the brain it had turned into a soup of sorts and when I threw the skull down on the mat it shot out and covered my face and chest. T.K.O. The next twenty seconds I spent reeling around the yard doing a combination of puking, stripping, and looking for the hose. Gro-Tay. It was during this series of events that I began to fully appreciate the services a good taxidermist can provide for nothing but mere money. To complete the process I ended up taking a thin knife and cutting the tissue between the core of the horn and rebagging the mess and trying again a few days later. 3) Let me tell you about maggots. When I reopened the bags a few days later there was so much movement within the dark interior I thought the ram had come alive again. And then the stink hit me again. T.K.O. It was during this series of events that I began to refer to myself as a cheap, two fisted tightwad, for not fully appreciating the services a good taxidermist can provide. In the end the horns popped off, the skull was boiled in sodium carbonate to clean it, and then painted with elmers glue to whiten it. Then there was the rasp and bondo work to reattach the horns to the skull and the work of creating a decent mount out of two inch yellow cedar. After I went through this "rotting process" I talked to a guy who had also recently killed a ram and he just threw his up on top of the roof and a couple of weeks later the horns popped right off. You decide. I do know that it needs to be warm enough to get the process going in either direction you go. The next time I do this I will carefully trim as much meat away from the skull as possible and definitely remove the brain, or a taxidermist will do it. As far as beatles are concerned I don't think you want to use them on a horned animal, I think they eat the horn. I could be wrong, perhaps a taxidermist can pipe in on that subject?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shedhunter View Post
    I put my ram in four layers of heavy duty garbage bags and then into a large rubbermaid box. I then put the box in the furnace room thinking it would speed up the rotting process. I read on a taxidermy forum that this was the way to do it. I am not a taxidermist. I learned a few things... 1) If you are married and want to give your wife a bad case of the red ass just wait until the stink comes out of the box. How it does, I don't know, the bags were knotted and taped and the lid secured on the box. It still did, and when I came home from work my wife's arms were crossed and her eyebrows were way up on top of her forehead. Instead, put the box on the roof of the house or shop where a bear or more likely a dog won't get to it. 2) While fresh, take a piece of wire and pull the brain out of the brainstem hole in the skull. I didn't, and my method of removing the horns from the skull was different than described above. I placed a rubber mat on the ground and threw the skull down on the mat so the horns struck the mat in the same manner as two rams butting heads. Because I didn't remove the brain it had turned into a soup of sorts and when I threw the skull down on the mat it shot out and covered my face and chest. T.K.O. The next twenty seconds I spent reeling around the yard doing a combination of puking, stripping, and looking for the hose. Gro-Tay. It was during this series of events that I began to fully appreciate the services a good taxidermist can provide for nothing but mere money. To complete the process I ended up taking a thin knife and cutting the tissue between the core of the horn and rebagging the mess and trying again a few days later. 3) Let me tell you about maggots. When I reopened the bags a few days later there was so much movement within the dark interior I thought the ram had come alive again. And then the stink hit me again. T.K.O. It was during this series of events that I began to refer to myself as a cheap, two fisted tightwad, for not fully appreciating the services a good taxidermist can provide. In the end the horns popped off, the skull was boiled in sodium carbonate to clean it, and then painted with elmers glue to whiten it. Then there was the rasp and bondo work to reattach the horns to the skull and the work of creating a decent mount out of two inch yellow cedar. After I went through this "rotting process" I talked to a guy who had also recently killed a ram and he just threw his up on top of the roof and a couple of weeks later the horns popped right off. You decide. I do know that it needs to be warm enough to get the process going in either direction you go. The next time I do this I will carefully trim as much meat away from the skull as possible and definitely remove the brain, or a taxidermist will do it. As far as beatles are concerned I don't think you want to use them on a horned animal, I think they eat the horn. I could be wrong, perhaps a taxidermist can pipe in on that subject?
    Shed hunter, I almost fell out of my chair! Good stuff! Live and learn, I do/have. I would always pop the horns off before letting the beetles clean the skull up. Not sure if they would eat the horn or not. I would not chance it. Besides, the horns must come off or it will stink. I assume you were doing a European mount. If not, boiling with washing soda will be sufficient, in my opinion.

    Musk ox and cape buffalo are horned animals, and those horns stay on the skull throught the prep. I have never heard of the beetles eating those horns. They are much more dense than a dall, though.

    I bet that funk is still stuck in your nose, or at leasted imprinted in your long term memory.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

  10. #10
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    Talking too funny shedhunter!!!

    i just shot mine and let him fall about 1000' bouncing off rocks and stuff. then it was a simple matter to go down the mountain and climb up to where the ram was and retrace his fall line to recover the horn <grin>.
    i let the taxidermist do the other one.
    oh, and if you use my method you don't have to worry about field dressing or caping either.
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    Default That's a lot of solid horn!

    So the consensus seems to be that the horns are solid but for the most recent 4-5 inches? That's a surprise.

    I know gemsbok and kudu horns are hollow most of the way to the tips. And domesticated sheep have at least some void space to all but the last inch or two.

    Is there no void space at all past the horn cores, or is it just really limited past that point?

  12. #12

    Default Boil?

    I've had luck with boiling the skull while fresh, not letting the water go higher than the base of the horn. It seems to loosen them shortly so I was able to twist them off. Worked for me but I read above guys saying not to soak them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by outdsman View Post
    I've had luck with boiling the skull while fresh, not letting the water go higher than the base of the horn. It seems to loosen them shortly so I was able to twist them off. Worked for me but I read above guys saying not to soak them.
    The main reason, as I see it, is that when boiled the horns can discolor probably. I would guess that it would be from the fat/oils coming off the skull. With goats, we seem to always have to boil them off and they tend to discolor a bit.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

  14. #14

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    I tried the soaking method along with drilling some small holes below the base of the horn to allow water to seep into the honeycomb area under the horns. This was one of the methods from a taxidermy forum. After three days I tried beating them and throwing them down and they were still solid. I am now going to try and let them dry for a couple of weeks and see if that works. That same forum also said to soak the skull in hydrogen peroxide to clean it. I was thinking of using this method because I don't have any setup to boil the skull.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigram View Post
    I tried the soaking method along with drilling some small holes below the base of the horn to allow water to seep into the honeycomb area under the horns. This was one of the methods from a taxidermy forum. After three days I tried beating them and throwing them down and they were still solid. I am now going to try and let them dry for a couple of weeks and see if that works. That same forum also said to soak the skull in hydrogen peroxide to clean it. I was thinking of using this method because I don't have any setup to boil the skull.
    You need to make the bacteria environment humid...you can't just poor water down. Place them in a garbage bag, tie it off and leave it for a week or so...then try to give them a good thump across a stump, etc.

  16. #16

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    Jimmy,

    I hope I never have to find out again!

    Oh btw, congrats on the fine ram, I didnt know you even came up to hunt, or dont remember. Did you shoot that ram with a gun, or did you finally bowhunt one?

    Just returned to fairbanks yesterday. My hole fall is in shambles as usual, whats new right! no partner, pilot said maybe gotta love that, backup plan have no partner and only 4 days of sheep season left. Looks like 2 years running, no sheep hunting for me, ugg. I just hope to get out and actually hunt SOMETHING this year other then out of state hunts. Last year was a wash, again no partners and my pilot dropped the ball. This seems to be a general thing on Fairbanks pilots, heck just fairbanks buisness altogether!

    I might be in north dakota this october for a black powder pheasant hunt. If you want to join us you're more then welcomed to come. My father and I. And no you don't have to be black powder hunting to go along. SHoot me an email if ya like. He's the only partner that doesnt back out on a hunt anymore these days! I'll know in the next few days if he can get the time off to go or not. You've got my email.

  17. #17

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    forgot....

    I believe charlie also uses the trashbag method, or supposidly did.

    You need to leave those horns in the bag for quite awhile. Go out and test them, if they dont pop off let them sit longer. They'll come off eventually, be patient. Hate to hear of you ruining them. Let things take there course and they'll come off.

    You can buy a skull cleaning kit from any of the big taxidermy shops, vandykes comes to mind. You may need two kits to have enough to do the complete skull, and if not you'll have extra for your next ram. I'm assuming you're doing a euro mount? If so they definatly look nice and are a helluva lot cheaper then a shoulder mount, though I can recommend an awesome taxidermist whose on the lil gerstile river right now hunting

  18. #18

    Default Why not soaking?

    For you taxidermist guys on here that have said not to soak, why not? In the past I've filled up a 35 gallon garbage can with water and soaked the head in it. After 3 weeks or so the horns fall right off, plus the skull has rotted considerably so that I can get a lot of tissue off without boiling. Works especially well with the thin tissues around the nasal bones. So what's the problem with soaking?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fullcurl View Post
    For you taxidermist guys on here that have said not to soak, why not? In the past I've filled up a 35 gallon garbage can with water and soaked the head in it. After 3 weeks or so the horns fall right off, plus the skull has rotted considerably so that I can get a lot of tissue off without boiling. Works especially well with the thin tissues around the nasal bones. So what's the problem with soaking?
    Soaking would probably be fine. I would not want to boil them because the grease/fat from the skull could discolor the horns. It really is quite easy to pop them off using the 2x4 method. Just let them dry out.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    I soaked mine after reading much and taking advice from fullkurl or fullcurl, can't remember which one! I worked em a little every few days and after a few weeks I wrenched them off. The trick is to let the bacteria build up in the water an let it do it's job. Then I soaked the skull and horns in water with Dawn dish soap and that pulled out the fat. Peroxide to "bleach" the skull. Bondo putty to "glue" the horns back on and the teeth back in.
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