Although it’s frowned upon by some, there are hunters that hit the woods each season simply looking for trophy bucks. The goal is to harvest these animals and keep the antlers as prizes. Many of these same hunters pay hundreds of dollars to have a European mount created. What many people don’t know is that it’s easy to create a European deer mount in your garage. You don’t have to be a taxidermist to do it either.
One of the best parts of hunting is collecting trophies. Pelts, antlers, hooves, or whatever. Everyone has something they love to collect. For some, the skull is their favorite part. Here, we’re going to teach you how to bleach a deer skull. It’s a bit of an involved process, but when you have a bleach white deer skull afterward, you’ll be the envy of all your friends, which makes it worth it.
Needed Supplies for Deer Skull Whitening
It’s important to gather needed supplies before you begin the process. Supplies needed for deer skull whitening include:
- Deer head
- Skinning knife
- Pot large enough to boil skull (Pot should be plastic or ceramic)
- 2 x 4 that fits across the pot
- Hydrogen peroxide 6% concentration or better
- Clearcoat lacquer
- Plaque or Log
How to Bleach a Deer Skull? - 5 Easy Steps
There are five basic steps to bleach a deer skull.
- Whitening with Peroxide
- Clear Coating Skull
Below, we will go over the entire process in more detail.
1 - Cleaning a Deer Skull Before Whitening
Before it’s time to start the whitening process, you need to clean the skull well. It’s important to skin and scrapes the skull before you move on to the next steps. The head can be removed from the body with a saw. Remove the eyes and then skin or scrape the skull. As long as you’ve cleaned a deer before, you should have no trouble with this step.
Scraping the skull is a bit more intensive, but a good knife makes short work of it. If you’re having a hard time with a particular area don’t panic. You can worry more about it in the next step. In the meantime, just get off as much as possible without scratching or causing any damage.
2 - Boiling a Deer Skull
After a rough cleaning, you’re ready to boil the deer skull. You don’t have to worry about submerging the antlers in boiling water; just the skull itself. Prepare the water by adding ¼ cup of calcium carbonate to every gallon of water.
Next, bring the treated water to a rolling boil. But, do not add the skull to the water while it’s boiling. Instead, wait till the water is simply simmering. At this temperature, let the skull rest in the water for about 30 minutes. Scrap it again and any leftover bits should come off easily. Use a hose to clear out any brain or nasal secretions leftover. It’s important to make sure you don’t overboil the skull, or you’ll ruin it.
3 - Whiten with Peroxide
After you’ve let the skull dry completely, you’re ready to whiten it with peroxide. Whatever you do, don’t submerge the antlers in the peroxide bath. It’s important to use peroxide with at least a 6% concentration. But don’t use anything over 12%. Mix peroxide and water 50/50. Let the skull rest in the bath until it has achieved the needed level of whiteness. It can take a few days in the bath to achieve the right level of brightness, but it’s important not to forget about it because the skull could disintegrate.
If you’re having a hard time finding peroxide that will work, you might want to see if you know a hairdresser that can help you out. One of the best peroxides to use for bleaching antlers is the same peroxide beauticians use to lighten hair. If you can’t find the right peroxide volume on your own, and a hairdresser is unable to help, they should be able to at least point you in the right direction.
4 - Add Lacquer for Clear Coating
After you remove the skull from the peroxide/water bath, you should add lacquer. The lacquer will give it a great clear coated look that you’ll enjoy for years to come. But, don’t try to clear coat the skull until it has dried completely. The exact finish you choose for your European-mount will depend on your tastes.
Some hunters will like a matte finish. Others will want their skull to have a sun-bleached or untouched bone look. Another great option is the satin or gloss finish. A satin finish on a deer skull is extremely nice to look at, but it is obvious that the skull has been altered.
No matter what finish you choose, you aren’t just making your skull look better, you’re also helping the skull from deteriorating. Without a clear coat treatment, the skull could mold, air could cause it to yellow, and it would eventually become more of an eyesore than the envy of all your friends.
5 - Mounting
The last step in the process is mounting. Although you don’t have to mount your bleached skull if you don’t want to. However, if you want to, a European-mount is easy to create with at this point. The easiest way to build a European-mount is to install the skull on a plaque. The most popular mount for this option is to install it on a plaque with the head downwards and the antlers up. It’s the best way to show off the mount.
If the skull doesn't install on a plaque easily, you can use a belt sander to level out the bottom of the skull. Using the belt sander on the skull lets you get a perfect angle. Run two screws through the back of the plaque into the skull. But use caution at this point, so that you don’t have anything protruding from the plaque or skull.