How to DIY a European-Style Mount
I’m certainly no expert, but I have done a few European-style mounts of my own. Growing up as a trapper, I have skinned plenty of animals as well as tanned a few hides for my own collection. So playing around with my own mount only made sense to me. I thought I would share a few pointers that I have learned over the years that might help you in doing your own Euro mount. Most taxidermist don't charge very much to do this type of mount and honestly, if you don't have the tools laying around, it could cost you just as much. However once you acquire a few of the necessities, you will be set for the years to come. Most importantly, it’s fun and you can have it on your wall just a few days after you harvest your animal.
First thing I do is sharpen my skinning knife, especially if it’s the one I used to clean my deer. A sharp knife makes everything easier. I skin the skull by cutting straight down the center of it peeling it off on both sides. Take some time to get the skin completely removed around the antlers. Remove the bottom jaw so you can get the tongue and much of the inners removed. Cut out the eyes and clean out the sockets.
At this point I like to boil the skull for as long as needed to remove and soften up the tissue in those hard to get places. Place the skull into a large container 2/3 full of water and have a fresh tank of propane to keep it going for several hours. Try putting a little bleach in with the water to help whiten the skull up a bit. It’s important to keep the antlers up out of the boiling water so you don’t get them discolored. I like to maintain the brown coloring of the antlers. You can wrap the base of the antlers in duct tape to help prevent any discoloration. Be careful to only boil as long as needed. Keep checking your skull regularly. If you boil too long, the skull may begin to crack down the center.
Once most of the meat and loose skin has curled up, or fallen off, take your skinning knife and clean it up a bit more. At this point, I like to take a power washer and blast off the loose flesh and brains out of the skull. Depending on the power level of your power washer, be careful not to blast the skull apart. If you don’t have a power washer, then clean the skull by hand the best you can and take it to a carwash to get any extra pieces cleaned off.
Once the skull has been blasted clean, and you have got all the excess flesh off with a knife, I bust out my Dremel, using some of the small accessories (grinder, sander etc…) in combination with a small wire brush. A Dremel is great for getting into some of those hard to get places with a knife, especially on the back portion of the skull. This tool really gets it cleaned up nice. Brush the skull off with a soft wire brush, then throughly rinse and dry. Make sure you pulled most of the cartilage out from inside the nose and cleaned around the base of the teeth. You don’t want to leave any living tissue to rot and stank up your trophy room.
Once it’s all dried up and ready to be whitened I prefer to use a small 1” foam brush and some 20% Pro-Oxide hair solution that can be found at most beauty supply stores. I brush the solution thoroughly onto the skull with the foam brush and let sit over night. Sometimes I apply a few more coats through out the day, if needed. The following day the solution should be dry. If the skull has been bleached to your liking, then you’re ready for a final rinse. If you are looking for it to be whiter, try repeating the final step for one more day.
If you notice the skull has begun to come apart up the nose after your final rinse, I recommend using some fishing line or a light clamp and pushing the bone back together tight along with a small bead of super glue to keep the gap closed. Once the mount is fully dry, you’re ready to hang or set it wherever in your trophy room. We like to use Skull Hooker brackets to hang our mounts to the walls in our home.
Finally, all that is left to do is sit back and tell the stories to your friends that come over to admire your work. There is a great pleasure in doing this yourself just as processing your own harvest. Perhaps this satisfaction of diy stems from our heritage where our ancestors did all of this themselves, as commercial places were not yet created. Nonetheless, it’s fun, easy and pretty dang inexpensive. Good luck and enjoy the work of your own hands.