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Thread: How to prepare a trophy head?

  1. #1

    How to prepare a trophy head?

    Hey guys. I know I read on here not that long ago about mounting a head and how to prepare it, but I can't find the topic to go back to! Last night I shot a Roe buck. Not anything special really but as I haven't shot many Deer I'd like to mount it. Just the skull and antlers on a board.

    Can someone give step by step instructions on how to do this? I'm sure it can't be hard if you know how, but I don't!

  2. #2

    how to prepare heads

    I'm not into trophies myself, (I usually say never mind what the head's like, what's the arse like) But there has to be some one on here that can tell us!!!

  3. #3
    I would put the head into freezer before you get the answer

  4. #4
    The heads you sometimes find in the woods are plenty good enough but I think the maggot trick may not be the best way to go about it in the garden!

  5. #5
    I boiled one out once with no pressure washer and spent three hours scraping it with a knife and scrubbing brush..

    I wont ever forget the company i was in when taking the animal and i shall never forget my first go at cleaning a head out

    Maggots are fab head in a bucket with as much skin as you want to remove , let the flies at it for a day then cover in old compost and let the maggots do the work..
    leave them be for a few days till its clean.. 15mins on the boil and then bleach..

    Sure somebody can explain a better method but it works for me..

    My trophys represent a fab time in great and memorable company rather than being bronze,silver or gold..

    The one on the left is still wet hence blotchy


  6. #6
    I'd be inteested in the answers here. I tried and failed miserably to boil out a head and ended up havin to just take the antlers off and bin the rest. Come on chaps lets have your trade secrets

  7. #7
    try and pm griffshreck, he's probably a little busy on deer recovery at present but if he can't help, no-one can!

  8. #8
    Hi njc,

    You can put the head in a bucket of cold water until you decide to skin and boil it.Change the water daily this keeps it fresh and draws the blood out making it easier to bleach,it comes out after boiling alot cleaner.
    You can leave in the water for a couple of days but change the water regularly or it will start to smell.
    Skin the head,you can leave the skin on round the pedicles as this will be easier to srape off once boiled.
    After skinning decide which cut you want,full skull(medal buck) long nose(i usually do all six pointers like this) or short nose (anything i keep thats not a six pointer) and cut before you boil,less you have to scrape and easier to cut the skull the meat stops the skull from cracking and breaking and because its damp.I use a proper trophy cutting jig for the ones i displlay and a normal wood saw for the others, its neater with the jig.
    Put the skull in a pot and boil with a drop of washing up liquid(not too much as it bubbles up),this helps to de-grease, for 20-30 mins for young beast and up to an hour for a full skull and older beasts(meat is tougher and takes longer to soften)Dont boil too long especially younger beasts as the nose bones will fall apart but can be glued together.
    Scraping can be a pain some people jet wash , iv'e never tried it.
    To srape a full skull takes about an hour(but i don't mind cause if i'm sraping afull skull it usually means iv'e shot a medal ).
    Once your happy youv'e got all the flesh off wrap it in cotton wool or toilet paper, while its still damp and pour over hydrogen peroxide until its soaked (should be able to get from hairdressers supplies, i get mine from Salon Services)and leave over night to whiten.Remove cotton wool/paper rinse off excess peroxide and leave to dry .Ready for mounting.
    This is the way i do mine and quite a few mates,i hate to see a nice head wasted.I'm sure others will have,quicker/easier /better ways but this works and hope it points you in the right direction.Once you done a couple its easy.


  9. #9


    Posted before but copied now. definately not for the squeamish

    I have recorded in pics how I go about a head prep for roe. Not saying its perfect but I hope it helps. (it made doing these 2 more interesting for me)

    First I take the head out of the freezer 5 or 6 hours before commencing operations. In this case I had 2 to do, I prefer to try and do a couple at once cos its a grotty job.

    I keep all my buck heads if I can, its good for records and memories and I personally think its better than chucking them away.

    I try to make sure I've got the kit together first

    -wood saw - just an ordinary one but works well, especially through a semi frozen head
    -pan- make sure its big enough and that you dont want to use it for anything else again
    -knives- a slender knife is an advantage, and make sure its sharp
    -latex gloves - unless you want brains and snot under your nails
    -gas campig stove- point here is that you really dont want to be boiling it out in the house, and your missus really, really wont
    - kitchen roll - for tidying up
    - soda crystals - to add to the water for boiling as they aid degreasing
    - hydrogen peroxide - for bleaching and is actually much better than bleach (domestos etc)
    -long nosed pliers - helps for pulling tricky skin off
    - cotton wool pads - nicked em from the missus and they are excellent pulled apart and placed on the skull
    - syringe- really helps getting the peroxide on without risking getting it on the antlers

    Now you have to decide on the cut, bear in mind the shorter the cut then the easier the cleaning will be. Try to make sure that you cut through the brain cavity unless you want a full skull mount as its a pig to clean without decent access. I include some pictures of mounts I have to give an idea.

    The last one is super lazy but lets you keep the antlers as a record (just dowelled to a board)

    The next pic shows the line of the cut I decided on

    Next remove the ears, tight to the skull (at all times try not to cut or scar the skull)

    Now make the cut. I do this with all skin etc still on, it means theres less skinning etc in the end.

    Now we're ready for skinning. I find it much easier from the nose up.

    It gets pretty tricky around the coronets/pedicles so I usually trim round them and tackle them seperately. Put the slender knife through at the sides and at the base

    Now we can pull the skin out with the pliers

    Clean off as much meat as possible from the outside of the skull it will help later.
    So far so good

    Now you have to find a way of getting the head in the pan so you can submerge all but the coronets and antlers. I use a mesh wedge and screw it to the base of the head. I know others suspend them, tie them etc. Whatever you do make sure its stable cos if you end up boiling the antlers it will knacker your trophy.

    Now fill up the pan to the base of the coronets and add the crystals. Boil for 45 mins or so keeping the water topped up. I fill the pan with boiling water from the kettle as it saves time with the stove. The heads being frozen doesnt help for time either. You can tell its ready when the meat looks cooked

    Now comes the really grotty bit. I use a pressure washer to clean the whole lot up. I have even done this at a public car wash but I did hide myself away behind my vehicle and it was dark Try not to blast the antlers just the skull. The dogs like to clean up Oh and make sure you are not wearing your best clothes and keep your mouth shut!! It really is not nice if you get splash back in your mouth/up your nose!!

    Once done have another quick clean round with a sharp knife.

    Now cover with cotton wool, including stuffing the eye sockets. I then use a syringe to soak the cotton wool with peroxide and leave over night

    Now we need to rinse it all and leave to dry. I find outside in the wind helps as long as it doesnt rain or birds poo on your trophy (it has happened )

    And finally, if you so wish, mount it on a shield and find it some house room. All mine are in a stable I have all of my shooting gear in.

    And thats it folks. Hope some of you find it useful and that all of you excuse my self indulgence but it gave me something to do whilst it rains!!

  10. #10
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    To add to moose's excellent summary, if I want to prepare a head these are the steps I follow:

    1. remove the lower jaw and remove the tongue/skin
    2. remove the skin from the head using a sharp knife
    3. use a trophy jig to make a long nose cut or do by eye if no jig available (I have one in Oxon/Wilts if that helps??)
    4. put the cut head (and the jaw) into a large stainless steel pot with a healthy pinch of soda crystals. The warm water should just cover the skull but not higher than the bottom of the pedicles
    5. put the lid on the pot and bring the water to a slow boil and leave for 30 minutes or so. I now do this outside using a camping stove after one too many comments from the other half about the smelly kitchen
    6. after 45 minutes (yes, I often forget about the head and leave it longer than I mean to) remove the head and run it under cold water.
    7. you can now use the jet spray or, as I do, scrape the meat off using a blunt knife, washing frequently under a cold tap. Take care with the nose and brain cavities to remove all extraneous matter, as otherwise the head will smell!
    8. once the flesh is removed wash the head again under cold water and place into a pyrex dish.
    9. cover the head and jaw with cotton wool that has previously been soaked in a peroxide solution.
    10. leave overnight, then next day wash again and leave to dry.


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