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Thread: Suggestions for cleanning a bear skull

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    Member Gilliland440's Avatar
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    Default Suggestions for cleanning a bear skull

    I am looking for suggestions on cleanning a bear skull. Anyone in Anchorage have flesh eating beatles or bacteria that need some food?

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Boil it in soapy water outside in a large pot maintaining sufficient water to keep submerged.
    Power wash at the carwash (careful, don't lose the teeth).
    Soak in gasoline or coleman fuel for a week or more to degrease, (drill holes in lower jaw through the bottom to allow grease to escape in larger bears). Air dry and wash again with soapy water.
    Drop off at taxidermists to soak in whitening/bleaching solution, (minimal fee involved unless you do alot of business with him/her and don't forget to include the teeth).
    Coat repeatedly with 50/50 solution of elmers glue and water.
    Lastly, clear coat many times with aerosol clear coat froma rattle can.
    Best of luck however you choose to do it.
    Also-Do a search on this forum for many other ideas as this topic has been covered before.
    BK

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    Don't boil anything. That is bad advice on an old and outdated method. If you must clean it yourself, do this.

    1) Cut off all big chunks of meat, remove eyes, remove brain.
    2) Submerge skull in water and simmer for one hour, with some powdered detergent.(boiling is brutal and causes damage)
    3) Submerge in cold water for a few minutes and remove all flesh from everwhere, and let dry.
    4) Order skull bleaching kit from Cabela's or their sister company Van Dykes.
    5) If you are still to cheap to do step #4, then google peroxide paste skull bleaching

    Please don't do a bunch of stuff to it, screw it up, and then take it to a taxidermist. Your time, labor, gas, and mistakes will cost you way more than if you just took it to a taxidermist in the first place. By the way, why would you go through all the cost of killing a bear, and not simply shell out a hundred bucks to get it professionaly cleaned and whitened? No headaches, no messes, no worries, no potential damage. I don't get it.

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fabricfan View Post
    Don't boil anything. That is bad advice on an old and outdated method. If you must clean it yourself, do this.

    1) Cut off all big chunks of meat, remove eyes, remove brain.
    2) Submerge skull in water and simmer for one hour, with some powdered detergent.(boiling is brutal and causes damage)
    3) Submerge in cold water for a few minutes and remove all flesh from everwhere, and let dry.
    4) Order skull bleaching kit from Cabela's or their sister company Van Dykes.
    5) If you are still to cheap to do step #4, then google peroxide paste skull bleaching

    Please don't do a bunch of stuff to it, screw it up, and then take it to a taxidermist. Your time, labor, gas, and mistakes will cost you way more than if you just took it to a taxidermist in the first place. By the way, why would you go through all the cost of killing a bear, and not simply shell out a hundred bucks to get it professionaly cleaned and whitened? No headaches, no messes, no worries, no potential damage. I don't get it.
    cause it runs 200-300 for skull cleaning anymore when left with the taxi.
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    Member trapperbob's Avatar
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    Maceration works well with or with out the sand fleas. Just clean it up as best you can place in bucket cover it with water give it 2 to 3 months it will wash right off. Here is a link to another thread I mis-spelled maceration in that thread . Lots of info online also about maceration.
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...skull-cleaning

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    Like they said above, boiling is a long and messy step that is unnecessary. It also stinks. The teeth fall out also. Then you have a puzzle.

    The best way is if you have a pressure washer. Get a sheet of plywood and put in the driveway. If you want to you can screw a couple of small blocks in a v to the sheet to wedge the skull into as you are working on it. Put on your rubber gear. Make sure you remove all the meat you can with a knife. if you can remove the jaw also. Now just start spraying it startiing at one end. You will need a narrow nozzle to get it done. It should only take about an hour. Make sure you get all the little holes cleaned out. The toughest part is the brain.
    When you are done soak it in a bucket of 1/2 peroxide 1/2 hot water for about 2-3 days. If it is a big one you will need to flip it once in a while. Then rinse it and soak it for a day in the bucket starting with hot water. Let it dry and it will come out really nice. I have done many and it is easy and cheap to do.
    Good luck guys.

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    Member Gr is for Greg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fabricfan View Post
    ...By the way, why would you go through all the cost of killing a bear, and not simply shell out a hundred bucks to get it professionaly cleaned and whitened? No headaches, no messes, no worries, no potential damage. I don't get it.
    I can see what you are saying to a point, but I don't think I would ever discourage people from exploring DIY projects like this. I don't know that this forum would exist if people (like myself) didn't have an interest in trying out hide tanning or skull cleaning etc. on their own. I shot a really nice bear two years ago, and I definitely had the pros take care of the skull for me. On the other hand, my father shot a medium sized black bear this spring for the meat. We were legally required to salvage the skull, so we were taking it out anyway, but it's not the kind of thing my dad would spend a couple hundred on to have done up professionally. So I took it up, cleaned it up, and it turned out pretty nice. No harm in that, eh?

    My two cents for the OP - I had reasonable success with the boiling technique, but I didn't boil the crap out of it. I kept it at a low boil / simmer, and I took it out every 45 minutes or so to pick off as much flesh as I could. The teeth didn't fall out, and after only a few boiling stints, I had it all cleaned up. But, it sounds like there are plenty of folks on here with more experience and better knowledge than I have, so take it with a heavy grain of salt. Let us know what you do and how it comes out.

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    Do not boil.. Boiling a skull in water even for a short time will break down the cell structure in the bone.. and cause flaking once dry.. this flaking will not stop, go away or be fixed.. Simple masceration, or find a guy who has a beetle colony. I like the shrim pot idea.. Once a skull is properly cleaned.. and degreased of all GREASE, oils and blood deposits, can it be whitened. once dry it can be sealed.. taking shortcuts and quick methods only will destroy your trophy.. the do it yourself starter kits are gimicks..I agree with Fabricfan

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    Bios at F&G use a crock pot set on low. Itworks super good on smaller skulls and such. My buddy there just did a fox skull, and it took 5 hours sitting in the crock. After 5 hours, the meat just fell right off. He sprayed out the brain cavity (which poured right out). If you can get a big enough crock, I'm sure it would work great on a bear skull

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    Member Gilliland440's Avatar
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    Thank you for the suggestions everyone. I believe I am going to try my luck with the shrimp pot method. If it adds to the catch ..even a bigger bonus. You all have been more than helpful.
    -JR

  11. #11

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    What does everybody consider the best way to degrease the skull? A buddy and I are doing our own grizzlies, and we both have a few yellow spots. Thanks for any help!

    Andrew

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    Member dieNqvrs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoytguy View Post
    Do not boil.. Boiling a skull in water even for a short time will break down the cell structure in the bone.. and cause flaking once dry.. this flaking will not stop, go away or be fixed.. Simple masceration, or find a guy who has a beetle colony. I like the shrim pot idea.. Once a skull is properly cleaned.. and degreased of all GREASE, oils and blood deposits, can it be whitened. once dry it can be sealed.. taking shortcuts and quick methods only will destroy your trophy.. the do it yourself starter kits are gimicks..I agree with Fabricfan
    I cant agree more! There is no quick and easy way to get professional results. all these 2 to 5 hour jobs will look good for a few weeks until the remaining grease leaches out of them and turns them dingy yellow and will stink. Plus you are damaging the skull and all its delicate components If any taxi dermist tells you they have a quick turn around of less than 2 months for small stuff and 3-4 months or more for a bear they are a hack. Painting a skull with white paint is not cleaning it properly and will look even worse later on. Acetone or white gas will help THIN grease which is good but will not remove it like detergent will. If ever shopping around for a taxidermist to do a skull ask to see a some of their bears or a reference of somebody that had one done by them that have been done for a few months. If it has yellow stains in the back of the zygomatic arch or near the brain case then they are impatient and dont do them properly and dont go to them for any work!! there are quality folks that do skulls on here you just have to ask. Several come to mind from chickaloon to palmer to kodiak.

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    Member moose-head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilliland440 View Post
    Thank you for the suggestions everyone. I believe I am going to try my luck with the shrimp pot method. If it adds to the catch ..even a bigger bonus. You all have been more than helpful.
    -JR
    PLease let us know how this works. I have boiled and scraped before, and it turned out pretty nice. I have buried them in the ground for a year and a half and that worked too, but the skull was stained brown when I retrieved it. I think that the shrimp pot might be the way to go and look forward to a report.
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    Member dieNqvrs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moose-head View Post
    PLease let us know how this works. I have boiled and scraped before, and it turned out pretty nice. I have buried them in the ground for a year and a half and that worked too, but the skull was stained brown when I retrieved it. I think that the shrimp pot might be the way to go and look forward to a report.
    Read this thread. http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...skull-cleaning . It kinda worked but had to macerate the rest off. He also lost some pots with skulls in it as well. not a reliable method! The buried skull is mineral and tannin stained, the problem with this method. Hence why fossils are brown. have to ask your self do you want a kinda nice skull that probably get thrown in a box at some point or a stunning quality show peice that goes on the mantle? a hundred or two is not that much in terms of the cost of a hunt for a quality trophy. A true DIY skull project will still cost you $50-75 or more to do it properely.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Chris, what do you think of the Lacquer Thinner for a month idea,
    I've got a Blk Bear skull that after a pretty thorough Beetle cleaning, it still has stains on the lower jaw that do not seem to be coming out over intensive Maceration. I mean soapy water for a LONG time. Wondering what else I can do, I'm waiting on some 40 Peroxide to do that step but wondering if you guys think I should try that Thinner idea first.
    i won't get a Thinner smell in there forever will I?
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member dieNqvrs's Avatar
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    Laquer thinner is just that a thinning agent. It helps break down the oil based emulsified fats into THINNER peices/molecules. Second macaration is the process of using bacteria to break down flesh. You already got rid of the flesh via beetles. You are using detergent to bind and draw the oils out of the bone matrix. The thinner will help. pull it out and air dry and then back into the detergent. the thinner smell should dissapate but i dont really use it to know for sure? 40 vol is 12 %ish just go get the brown bottle 3% peroxide at wally and it will do the same thing just takes longer. just get enough to soak the skull in and leave it for a week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by andrew.stigen View Post
    What does everybody consider the best way to degrease the skull? A buddy and I are doing our own grizzlies, and we both have a few yellow spots. Thanks for any help!

    Andrew
    Get a Gallon of Dawn dish soap, Clear if possible,, Blue will work, but I preffer the clear.. Get a bucket of hot water, add 1 cup dawn, mix, drop a fish aquarium heater in the bucket and make sure everything is submerged. I also preffer to use a clear container so when I see the watrer cloud up, I change the water.. first few times are about every other day.. after that 1-2 times a week.. Soak, rinse, soak, rinse.. no shortcuts. Some bears take 2-3 months, and others have taken 4-6 months.. the teeth will fall out, so when you dump the water, use a strainer. collect all the teeth and put em in a cup.. when the skull is done, use zap gap or a good super glue (gel) and glus em back in.. cant do it wrong as each tooth will only fit in the propper socket. I have also used industrial strength ammonia on stubborn bears. I do a dawn soak, then a ammonia, dawn, etc.. one thing to note is that when the bear skull is submerged for a long period of time.. it becomes porus.. (sp?) use a aircompressor and put the nozzle right to the bone and blast it moving the air nozzle around you can free some of the deeper oils found most commonly in the rear of the lower jaw and the attachment point of the upper and lower.

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