A few years ago I decided to do my own euro mount of my first Dall Sheep. It was fun and very rewarding. It's pretty cool to look at it on the wall and know I did it myself. Well, I shot my first Griz this year and decided I'd do the skull myself. I started the process yesterday and figured I'd document it here for the benefit of any other 1st time amateurs like myself who could use the info in the future. Those of you who have done your own before please chime in with critiques, pointers, things you have done (right and wrong) that may help anyone else with this process. Remember, this is the "backyard cheap but effective method". No beetles availble and no money either! I need to save up to pay for the rug
In the field I removed the tongue and trimmed off the big stuff and used my narrowed bladed knife to scramble the brain and remove it. I left the jaw attached since I wasn't sure if F&G required it when I got the skull sealed. They don't. After it was sealed I put it in a bucket of water and put it in the green house with a lid on it and let it set for a week. One could let it set for weeks I guess and maceration would take care of it. I chose to simmer NOT BOIL it with a some sodium carbonate. It can be purchased as Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda, $2.69 and Freds and the wife can use the leftover. I read that this cuts the simmer time down from 2-3 hours to about 30 minutes. I found it to be correct. I brought the water close to a boil, put in a cup or so of the stuff, plopped the skull in and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, I then ripped the lower jaw off and scraped/removed what little fless was left, it was like slimy goo, it came off real easy. I threw it back in the pot. My pot wasn't quite big enough to totally immerse the skull so I had to turn it a couple times. I did this for about another 15-20 minutes The flesh just fell off the thing and the nerves/tendons/cartilage that was in the nooks and crannies came out very easily with a wire or whatever. I got all the flesh off the skull and lower jaw and the teeth did not fall out, except for the real small ones which were loose enough to pull out. I'll have to see how this turns out. I figured they come out like the did on my sheep and I'd glue them back in later. I sprayed out the nasal cavity with the hose and blew out some other holes with it as well. Piece of cake. I tried to only simmer the skull just enough to get it clean. I didn't want to over do it. I think I boiled my sheep too long. Time will tell.
After the simmer job I put it back in a bucket of water with quite a bit of Dawn dish soap to begin the skull degrease process. I'm not sure how well this will work on the bear skull. I guess they have quite a bit of grease as compared to a sheep. It worked well for the sheep skull. Anyway, I soaked it for about 24hours and today changed out the water/soap with fresh. I'll let it soak about 48 hrs this time and change it out again. With the sheep after a few days of this I then let it soak in water and dried it out. When the skull had no smell I called it good. I figure I'll try the same approach and see what happens.
I've read that guys use everything from Acetone to white gas to plain gasoline and other nasties to degrease a bear skull. I'll try this way first. Here are some pics of the skull in the field and today after the first 24hr degrease soak.