Everybody has diferent methods.
What's your methods in preparing a Roe head trophy, from skinning to bleaching???
Everybody has diferent methods.
What's your methods in preparing a Roe head trophy, from skinning to bleaching???
Skin, Cut, Clean, Bleach
Skin cut boil scrape bleach mount.
Skin it make the cut depending on your preference, boil for however long it needs depends on the age of the Buck an old Buck will
need about 40 minutes, but be careful or it will fall to pieces if you boil for to long.
If you are going to prepare it right away plunge it in to cold water to set the bone.
This is where my method differs from the norm. as a usually have a lot of heads to prepare at the one time I will have a day
just skinning cutting and boiling, so don't need the cold water set them aside and remove the flesh the next day.
Washing soda crystals are recommended for removing grease while boiling, I have found that a good scoop
of normal washing powder does the same job.
Some people recommend a pressure washer for removing the flesh but I have never tried it.
Once I have removed the flesh from the heads I return them to the boiler for a short time 10 minutes or so helps clean them up a bit and remove any small particles of flesh that has been left, I use an old tooth brush for this final clean.
You are now ready for bleaching always bleach a wet head if thy are dry wet them before bleaching as a dry head does not bleach well, use hydrogen peroxide to bleach never use household bleach if you do though it looks fine to begin with
you will find that after a while the skull of your trophy starts to crumble the bone turning like chalk.
You can get hydrogen peroxide from a chemists its normally only 20% concentration this will do the job but will take around 8 hours rap the skull in cotton wool packing the cavity and soak with the peroxide, after you have removed the cotton wool
it helps enhance the effect if you can leave them in the sun till dry.
Again my method differs slightly I have a source for 90% concentration peroxide[ not on sale to general public]
I have some tupper ware tubs deep enough to take a Roe skull and narrow enough to hold the skull upright fill the tub with peroxide and place the head in making sure you keep the antlers above the peroxide, the advantage of this method is that
an hour is enough time to bleach them and the peroxide can be used several times.
This is probably going to be the worlds longest post but I have cut and pasted an article that I once wrote but never bothered to publish. JC
There is a big difference between leaving a deer head behind the barn for a few months then going and looking for it with a strimmer so that you can nail it to a wall (if the foxes haven’t beaten you to it!) and, preparing a trophy that you can be proud of, is hygienic and acceptable to bring into the house and shows the respect due to what was once a beautiful living creature. Here I will attempt to describe the methods and equipment that I use for the task.
1. First, shoot your deer…… From a meat hygiene point of view it best practice to leave the head (and feet) on the animal until you get back to the larder and only do a field gralloch. Once you have got the carcass back and completed the dressing and inspection, it is important to take care of the head. Having removed it from the neck at the joint of the Atlas vertebra and the base of the skull, you must either freeze it or place it in a container of clean water immediately. At this stage it is a good idea to scrub off any blood that may have got on the antlers during the field gralloch.
2. As soon as possible, remove the head from the water, or defrost, and, starting from the mouth, skin the head. This is best done outside and I have found that a Workmate, with the jaws placed a few inches apart, provides a good bench. (Photo) Great care must be taken to avoid accidentally cutting your hands and the use of latex gloves is recommended throughout the process. The lower jaw is removed by inserting the knife on either side of the vertical parts of the jaw bone, probing until you see the eye move then forcing the jaw backwards and free taking care not to cut yourself on the sharp incisor teeth. The lower jaw should be examined for age and tooth wear and possibly retained.
3. At this stage, unless a full skull is required, a decision must be made as to what type of cut is needed. A short nose cut, through the eye sockets, leaving only a small amount of bone below the antlers, is the simplest but only really looks good if the antlers are small, for example on a yearling. A long nose cut, which takes a line below the eyes, through the base of the brain cavity and just removes the upper teeth but leaves the hoop like bones which support the hard palate at the end of the nose, is probably the most attractive and displays the trophy at its best. If the head is to be measured at a later date it is best to prepare it as a full skull in order to maximise the CIC score. With the larger species of deer it is important to take into account any back tines that may prevent the antlers being mounted on the wall depending on the angle of the cut. Special jigs and saws are available, especially for roe bucks, which clamp into the eye sockets and help to achieve a consistent cut. I have found that, with practice, a panel saw is the best tool for cutting through the skull especially if the antlers are held firmly in the Workmate and the bone is fresh or wet. (Photo) Needless to say, measure twice - cut once, and it is a very good idea to practice on a few cull bucks before attempting your once in a lifetime gold medal or, worse still, someone else’s! At this stage, take a moment to examine the two cut halves of the skull, and the lower jaw, and you will see how little area the brain actually occupies within the deer’s head and therefore why it is a very bad idea to attempt head shots at wild deer however good a shot you may think you are. One option is to get the head to this stage then refreeze until a number are accumulated before boiling but, a word of warning, if they are not all your own, you must label them very well to avoid confusion later.
4. If only one or two roe trophies are being prepared it is quite acceptable to boil them on the kitchen stove as long as they are fresh and care is taken not to allow them to boil over. (Yes, you’re all correct - I’m not married!) If several are to be prepared or the trophies are from the larger deer it is probably best to do boil them outside, or in an outbuilding, on a camping stove or portable electric ring. For the professional stalker, a ’Burco’ type boiler may be a good investment. Car boot sales are a good source of large pots and it is a good idea to have a few of different sizes. Ideally the water must come up to the pedicles but not cover the coronets, having said this, as long as the skull is not boiled for an excessive amount of time, 20 or 30 minutes is usually long enough for roe, I have never had a problem with any colour being removed from the antlers even if they are well immersed. Again, jigs are available which clamp the antlers to the side of the pot or a short piece of mild steel fencing wire can be used. (Photo) Washing up liquid or washing powder can be added to the water to aid the cleaning process. With the larger species, very good results can be got by using a steam cleaner instead of boiling but care must be taken not to damage the bone with the high pressure jet and the colour will be removed from the antler if you allow the jet to touch it. Cold water pressure washers can also be effective if used after boiling. The longer you boil the trophy for, the easier it will be to clean later but, if too long, the bone will become soft and may separate at the joints between the various plates of bone that form the skull.
5. Once the boiling is complete, it is important not to let the bone dry. When removing the trophy from the water, check that it is all complete, especially if a long nose or full skull is being prepared, before the water is thrown away. If any small parts have become detached it is easy to glue them back on later. Any flesh, skin or hair must now be removed by scraping with a knife or using forceps or long nosed pliers. Under the coronets, inside the brain cavity and in the nose are key areas that must be cleared. (Photo) A light scrub with a brush and some washing up liquid will show up any small bits that are still attached. Rinse in cold clean water.
6. After rinsing, let the bone dry off a little but not completely then carefully wrap it in white toilet tissue, loosely stuffing the tissue into the eye sockets and brain cavity. The pedicles must be well wrapped but it is important not to let the tissue touch the base of the coronets. Cotton wool can be used instead of tissue. Next, take a square of tin foil, place the skull on it and turn up the edges to form a dish. You can just place the wrapped skull onto a tray or in an old ice cream tub but by using tin foil you keep any peroxide that drains down closer to the bone. I use neat 6% or 9% (20 or 30 vols) Hydrogen Peroxide Solution from a normal high street chemist, it is possible to get much stronger solutions from hair dressing suppliers but I have found the 6% to be adequate and, in fact, I have had perfectly good results from 3% when that is all that has been available. A 200ml bottle costs about 70p and is enough to do two or three roe. Under no circumstances should you use domestic bleach as it tends to stain the bone yellow. A quantity of Peroxide should be poured into a small container then transferred evenly to the tissue, ideally using a syringe, stop once the tissue is saturated. (Photo) Rubber gloves should definitely be used for this operation as the solution will burn your skin and great care must be taken to avoid getting any in your eyes. The skull should now be placed out of the way of wives, children and animals and stay in this state for 24 hours with a little more Peroxide being added to the tissue half way through. The tissue is easily scraped off into the bin with a knife and a final rinse in clean water completes the process. The trophy should be allowed to dry and will hold a nice matt white finish for many years as long as it is not handled too much or allowed to get too dusty.
7. There are many ways to fix the trophy to a shield or plaque, you can purchase special brackets or fix a piece of wood into the brain cavity them screw this to the shield. Some people fill the cavity with plaster of Paris but my preferred method is to discretely use a small white cable tie through the shield and through holes carefully drilled in the inside of the eye sockets, a small recess has to be made into the back of the shield to accommodate the locking part of the cable tie. (Photo) As a last resort, you can simply screw through from the front of the skull but it seems a shame to make a good job of all the preparation then cut corners at the final stage.
The best results will only be achieved if care is taken at each stage and the preparation is done straight away on a fresh head or at least one that was frozen immediately and prepared as soon as it was defrosted. Good Luck
Thanks for the replys
Shot a buck still in velvet at the weekend - but it was quite a good head underneath should really have left it to become a clean buck. It didn't look that good when viewed in the half light. Can you skin off the velvet to get a reasonable trophy? or should it go straight to the bin.
Yes, you can skin off the velvet - very often you can just pull the velvet off in strips. Afterwards you can colour it with potassium permanganate, but be aware that if antlers are so treated they can't be measured.
Personally I try not to shoot bucks in velvet but that's just a personal thing. I've certainly done it (in fact in the last couple of weeks) when asked to do so by the farmer or when the stalker in Scotland asked me to shoot a particular stag. If the beast is in the cull, why not?
P.S. JC275, that's a great post - you really should have bothered to get it published.
Last edited by willie_gunn; 26-04-2010 at 20:02.
JC Nice read well layed out post
JC Well layed out post and much better presented than my effort.