DIY Project: How to Create European Mounts of Predator Skulls

Do you appreciate the natural beauty of a predator skull? Have you ever wanted to use the skull of a bear, mountain lion, wolf, coyote or other creature as a decorative piece of art? Follow these tips for your own DIY project to create European mounts.
DIY Project: How to Create European Mounts of Predator Skulls

Do you appreciate the natural beauty of a predator skull? Have you ever wanted to use the skull of a bear, mountain lion, wolf, coyote or other creature as a decorative piece of art? Are family members accepting of your notion?

If you answered “yes” to this questionnaire you may be a candidate for a do-it-yourself European skull mount of the predator of your choice. Like skinning a furbearer, you can easily take a meaty skull and turn it into a conversation piece for your den or home office. Here’s how.

Boiling the Skull

Boiling skulls isn’t the easiest of methods, but it’s the option many try first. The equipment list is simple: a pot and stove. Set up outside or in your shed as the smell could irritate your kin. Fire up a propane camping stove or hot plate to bring your hot tub to a simmer. Add a dash of Dawn dish detergent as a degreasing agent and don’t boil as it can cause a skull to weaken and teeth to fall out. Some teeth may fall out, but you can secure them with super glue later.

Before you drop your skull in the bath make sure to remove all hide, eyeballs and any larger chunks of meat. You can remove the lower jaw too as it will slip into place later.

Simmering takes several hours and requires you to remove the skull repeatedly to scrape away loose meat. After the skull is meat free you can add a whitening agent that is described later, but you are basically done.

Secure the skull to something, such as this wooden pallet, with wire before working on it with the pressure washer to remove flesh and other matter. (Photo: Mark Kayser)

Under Pressure

If you have a pressure washer you own the speediest option to a clean skull. To achieve clean results you need a pressure washer rated in the neighborhood of 3,000 psi. Lower-pressure units take longer to strip meat and too much pressure could damage fragile bones. Thinner skulls, like coyote and below, have to be done with care. Keep your distance as you test the meat-stripping capabilities.

Acquire a rotating nozzle. It chisels meat off of larger skulls with rapid results. For smaller skulls, coyote and below, a standard vehicle-washing nozzle will work. Lastly, be sure to don old raingear, latex gloves and goggles to avoid getting any animal matter on you. You may even want to cover your mouth and nose with a mask for complete sanitary protection.

Like boiling, remove the hide, lower jaw, eyeballs and excess meat. Now take your skull and wire it to a board, or other object to keep it stationary while you blast away. I use a pallet and wedge and wire the skull the slats to hold it firm.

Most skulls take approximately 30 minutes to finish and you may have to scrape a chunk or two of stubborn meat after the wash. After the meat is removed you may wish to whiten with the information listed later.

Use Dermestic Beetles

For a walk-away option the quickest method to a clean skull is the use of dermestid beetles. A colony of these ravenous insects can remove all meat from a skull in just a few days. That means no boiling or pressure washing, but with great power comes great responsibility.

Keeping a colony of beetles alive is a year-round commitment. Beetles are not vegans and require a constant diet of meat. They also have to be kept under lock and key. If they get loose in your house anything carbon-based is on the menu including leather furniture and other taxidermy mounts. For beetles to be productive they require precise climate, temperature and lighting control. If you don’t want to babysit beetles drop off your skull at a taxidermist and for approximately $125 they’ll do the job.

Snow White Skulls

Using one of the previous three techniques your skull will look bone colored when finished. It’s time to whiten your skull and you can do it as easily as using whitening strips for your teeth. Start by researching whitening kits from outlets such as Cabela’s. You can also substitute with hair salon products referred to as “basic white.” Mix with a 40 percent ratio of hydrogen peroxide and paint the paste on the warm, moist skull. Let the skull sit a day or so, and brush away the flaky residue. Your whitened skull is now officially done and ready for a prominent place in your home. Enjoy!

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