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Thread: DIY Bear Skull

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    Default DIY Bear Skull

    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.



    Last edited by Snyd; 10-08-2012 at 12:09. Reason: fix pics

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    Default A few more after the simmer and first degrease soak




    Last edited by Snyd; 10-08-2012 at 12:09. Reason: fix pics

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    Grab a 5 gallon bucket and soak it in laquer thinner for a while. it'll take the grease out of it and wont hurt the skull. we do it alot.

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    LOL! Your bottom pic looks like a pretty cool 'Arm and Hammer' advertisement, Alaskan style.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blink View Post
    Grab a 5 gallon bucket and soak it in laquer thinner for a while. it'll take the grease out of it and wont hurt the skull. we do it alot.
    Lacquer thinner huh? How long is "a while"? After that do you just let it air dry or do you have to soak the lacquer thinner out with something?

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    after you degrease it peroxide will whiten that thing right up...then seal it good
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    Congrats on the bear. Here is the link to how I did mine, degreasing is the key. Looking good so far.
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=19666

    Steve

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    Thanks guys. What about using Kerosene to degrease? I've got 5 gallons of the stuff I've had sitting around for years.


    EDIT: Check this out. Wikipedia says: "It can be used to remove lice from hair, but this practice is painful and potentially very dangerous. Also, this practice removes all natural oils and fats from the scalp."

    I think I'll give it a try.
    Last edited by Snyd; 09-22-2009 at 15:44.

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    Snyd, she leaves them soaking for a couple of days in thinner.

    Let us know how the Kero works. Havent tried that one yet, 'sides if you have it on hand already, might as well give it a try.

    If you have access to the concentrate peroxide (through a salon) That will really whiten it up.

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    ya like 60% peroxide..whoohoooo wear gloves and goggles!!
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    I did a bear skull last fall and used the advice of a buddy of mine who is a taxidermist.
    My first steps were nearly identical to yours, except de-greasing involved a bit more simmering in water with a healthy add of Borax. The grease floats off the skull; the Borax binds with it. Before removing the skull from the water, I skimmed off the grease. I did this about 3 times before the water was essentially grease-free.

    For whitening, my buddy recommended hair LIGHTENER, bought at Fred Meyer in the ladies hair care section. Note this is lightener - not hair coloring. Hair lightener is the stuff with peroxide, used to bleach hair.

    Following the directions on the box, and using painter's gloves, I brushed on the lightener (it is somewhat paste-like). I dobbed everywhere, including inside the nose cavity, etc. Then I let it sit on a shelf in the garage for a couple days. Eventually, the peroxide paste semi-dried, and I bushed, rubbed it off. The skull was beautiful white, and had a clean bleach-like smell.

    Final step was painting it with clear polyurethane, mainly because that's what I had in my paint locker. I'm sure any kind of clear coating would do a similar job.

    Cheers - glad you had a good hunt.

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    Well, I've had the skull in kerosene for a little over a week now. It looks like I can see some sludge in the bottom of the bucket. Not sure but I think it's grease accumulating. The bucket was wiped clean before I started. I'll give it another week and pull it, let it dry and see what it looks and smells like.

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    Wink

    I have degreased them every which way imaginable. But always after months or years, they blotch up. I now just use a thinned mixture of White Kilz Primer (Paint). It works on every kind of skull and even on horns, if you want to eliminate the blotching and then get a good even stain on the antlers.
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    Default teeth

    You might as well find a way to get those teeth out. There is alot of material in the roots and you should clean that area out. I wouldn't be suprised if they fall out in the degreasing process.

    I'll be doing my bear skull soon too. I've had a major outboard project this fall so I've yet to do it. I did do my Dall sheep but that was just a cleaning of the skull cap and horn removal for the taxi.

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    Thanks, Snyd, Stid, and all others who commented on their two seperate threads! We boiled 5 deer, a moose, a bear and a fox this weekend. The Washing Soda works! No smell either!! Not lying, boiled some without first and it was nasty. Washing soda kills the scent and degreases to some degree on first boil. Will use washing soda with borax and see how that degreases the bear and fox skull, after I get the pots scrubbed clean from the grease already. We had cut most of the flesh off already and dug much of the brains out too. But still meat, tissue, and junk all over skulls and in sinuses and such. Power washed bear and moose. The deer are already done, one or two were euro mounts and we just painted with oil based spray KILLZ. Did my caribou that way last year, no yellowing yet. Bear and fox though you can feel grease in spots, top of skull mostly between ears.

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    Sorry in a rush. We used a box n half of Washing soda. We boiled the deer on one pot of water, shoulda dumped out after 2 or 3 but went with it, it worked great still. The washing soda says on box it is a degreaser! On the bear skull I did yesterday lots of oil instantly on top of water. About .5hr total simmering. I used over 1/3 of a box just for the bear, yeah, no smell either!! Deer we tried to keep it a cup per gallon of water and we added more each time we did a new deer. Takes so long to boil that much water in a huge pot, so that's we didn't swap for new water! Used HuntAK59's colman stove that fits ontop of a one pound propane. Just a large single burner and it does work! We simmered skulls, not boiled. Except for my dad moose skull cap, cut pot side, put lid, and covered with rags over holes and lid. Boiled since not much in water. Simmered for a while but that was not working so well. Cranked it up and blam! Foam and steam cleaned the whole cap in no time!! Pressure washed it and done SON!!

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    What about caribou skulls? How do you fit the antlers into a pan? I am going to do a Euro mount.....

    Do you usually see blood stay in the antlers? Wondering if I waited too long to strip the velvet.........

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    What about caribou skulls? How do you fit the antlers into a pan? I am going to do a Euro mount.....

    Do you usually see blood stay in the antlers? Wondering if I waited too long to strip the velvet.........
    It would be about impossible to find a simmering pot big enough for a caribou skull 'and' rack, if you find one I might be interested in having one too. If you simmer a fresh porous antler it may disintegrate. If you're not interested in saving the velvet, it's best to strip that right away, as in a few days. All depending on the antler growth as to how much blood is in them. Stripping the velvet and submerging them in a large container filled with cold water ( salt added helps too ) will draw most of the blood out eventually...some guys like throwing them in a river or pond, but since they will be frozen soon, I wouldn't advise that. ( If the velvet will not strip easily, you might want to soak them first in water till they do. ) Not sure if it will bleed out very well after the velvet & antler has dried, and they may smell very funky for a very long time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    What about caribou skulls? How do you fit the antlers into a pan? I am going to do a Euro mount.....

    Do you usually see blood stay in the antlers? Wondering if I waited too long to strip the velvet.........
    You can take a steel drum and cut it to fit about any skull. I can down a 55 gallon drum to simmer my moose.






    As mentioned always strip velvet off ASAP, it will get very hard to remove and stink.

    I have used Kilz oil based paint to get them back white and then used GEL stain to recolor them. Go easy and slow on the stain. If you don't like it reapply the Kilz and try again.










    A couple bear skulls I did using the maceration process.

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    Nice job there Steve. I'd sure like to do a moose like that one of these days. I simmered this years ram skull yesterday. It's soaking now.
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