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Thread: smelly skull

  1. #1

    Default smelly skull

    Just got my bleached brown bear skull this week from the taxidermist. It looks good, very white & clean, however it smells. I've had it setting in the sun for a couple of days to see if that helps. I know it'll have some odor, but right now I wouldn't put it in a room because although not outrageous, over time it'll smell up the room. Does it take a while to off-gas or are there any thoughts on what to do. Right now I figure I'll leave it out a long as I can and then maybe polyurethane it to try to seal in any remaining smell. thanks for any suggestions

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Copper Center Ak

    Default skull

    I'm unsure of how it was cleaned, but there shouldn't be any smell, at least not any thats as noticeable as your describing. Have you looked inside the back of the skull or up the nasal passage and made sure something isn't still in there? Never know. I've done dozens of skulls and never had this problem.

  3. #3


    thanks for the reply. yes, it looks clean & bright. that's what's puzzling.

  4. #4
    Member OKElkHunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default brain

    There is probably still brain or nasal matter still in the small crevices of the skull. I don't know how it was cleaned, but I would take it back to whom ever did it and have them finish the cleaning job. If you don't get the matter out it will smell even worse over time and permiate the bone. I use high pressure air to blow out any remaining matter after picking skulls clean, I have also heard of taking skulls to a car wash and using the high pressure rinse to blow out and rinse clean the cracks and crevices. Which ever method use, you must use caution not to break or blow off any bone matter.
    “Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong." ~Calvin Coolidge~

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005


    Did he soak all the grease out of the skull before he bleached (peroxided) it? Once all the flesh is out of all the cavities the skull needs to be soaked in one of several different things to get the grease out of it. Acetone or white gas. Or, water and Dawn dishwashing soap. I used Dawn soap and water to do it to my sheep skull a couple years ago. I soaked it for 24 hrs, changed the water/soap and soaked it for another 24 and then plane water for another 12 or so. You could see the grease floating on top of the water. I have never done a bear but understand that they have more grease in the skull than sheep. My sheep definitely had a smell before but nothing afterwards.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don’t have one, you’ll probably never need one again

  6. #6
    Member sharksinthesalsa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    wasilla ak

    Default what smell

    does it smell rotten or does it smell like gasoline or chemicals?
    "early to bed, early to rise, fish like hell, and make up lies"

  7. #7


    I would do like suggested above and check the back for pieces of brain. I have done dozens of deer, elk & antelope and never had this problem. Would definately bring it back to whoever did it.

  8. #8
    Member akpredator's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Plain and simple

    If it stinnks -BRING IT BACK- DONT try to fix it your self, DO NOT take it to the car wash and pressure wash it ,you will blow out the nasal cavity. I have beetels and know that if you pull the skull out too early even though it looks clean they may not have gotten it all so just bring it back to who ever did it for you and have him finish it.

    good luck

  9. #9
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    My guess is all the oils are not out of it - bear skulls are very oily, as Snyd said, the grease that comes to the top of a bucket when you soak them is crazy. Take it back, it will only get worse.

  10. #10


    Thanks, the oily issue makes sense because it feels like it has oils still in it......just doesn't feel hard/dry like some of my deer skulls. I emailed the taxidermist. he's in anchorage, I'm in Texas so if it's something I can do like soak with detergent, etc. then I'd try that rather than pay the postage again to ship. thanks for the feedback.

  11. #11
    Member ollie's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Delta Junction, Alaska, United States


    I soak all of my skulls in a 50/50 mix of ammonia and water. It's a great degreaser for bear skulls. I place the skull in a 5 gal. bucket with lid and check on it after 1 week. You will see the grease floating on the top. If it's a really greasy bear skull, I will change out the solution and degrease further until there is no more grease floating on the surface. I will then continue to whiten the skull. As the others have said , it's important that all the tissue and matter in all of the cracks and crevasses are cleaned out thoroughly before you do anything.


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