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Thread: How to preserve my first head

  1. #1

    How to preserve my first head

    How should I preserve my first head, pic below?

    a) Stuff it? How much would this cost? Anyone near Cambridge?
    b) Get all skin/flesh off and keep the skull?

    Any idea how much a) would cost?
    Any good links to descriptions how to do b) in a normal home?

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Stalking 002.JPG 
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  2. #2
    b) is easy enough, remove the lower jaw and then skin the head, remove eyes, tongue, ears and all that. Decide how you would like to mount it, I usually come though the back of the skull at an angle and through the bottom of the eye sockets and out through the nose. Some people prefer diff angles and I believe buchwear sell a jig. Scoop out the grey matter then place the skull in a boiling pan, fill with water to just below the pedicles and boil for a good few hours till all the ligaments, meat and sinew easily lift off. I then give it a blast with a steam cleaner and leave it to dry. Once dry I get some peroxide bleach (buy from hairdressers) and soak some cotton wool pads in it, lay on skull and leave to bleach for a few hours. Buy a mounting kit, mount and jobs a gooden.

    There are also larder beetles? which you can buy from somewhere which will basically clean the head for you given enough time. I also new another stalker who used to tie em to a high branch in a tree and leave em for a few months as the sun will naturally bleach the bone!!

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by stig View Post
    How should I preserve my first head, pic below?

    a) Stuff it? How much would this cost? Anyone near Cambridge?
    b) Get all skin/flesh off and keep the skull?

    Any idea how much a) would cost?
    Any good links to descriptions how to do b) in a normal home?

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Stalking 002.JPG 
Views:	53 
Size:	177.1 KB 
ID:	5485
    So did you shoot this last night?

    If so, nice one.....
    Brian.

    Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you......

  4. #4
    Unless you have taken the cape (skin) off the head and shoulders shortly after you shot it and pu tit in the freezer you will not be able to have it mounted (stuffed!?! .....). I would recon on 300-400 for this - been a while since I had one done - anyone else?

    Otherwise a skull mount as suggested is your best bet - you can easily do this yourself - I do when I can be bothered - but then I do have piles of the things in the stick shed waiting till I get a roundtuit.

  5. #5
    Okay, so I might head (another pun...) down the remove jaw clean skull route - thanks "andibrains" , might look for a few pics to go with it )


    Quote Originally Posted by Claret_Dabbler View Post
    So did you shoot this last night?

    If so, nice one.....
    This morning

    http://www.thestalkingdirectory.co.u...566-First-deer
    Last edited by stig; 16-03-2011 at 13:13.

  6. #6
    It looks quite small you could always pickle it A taxidermist will do it for you if you have not done a proper job of the skin he will provide one at a little extra cost.

  7. #7
    Congrats on your first buck mate.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. I wouldn't cut a muntjac skull if I were you, they look so much better whole and worth the extra work. JC



    Trophy preparation.

    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

  8. #8
    Wow! Perfect... head now immersed in water, trip to chemists coming up...

    Many thanks
    Last edited by stig; 16-03-2011 at 14:48.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by stig View Post
    Wow! Perfect... head now immersed in water, trip to chemists coming up...

    Many thanks,

    Peter
    Stig,

    the chemist might ask what the hydrogen peroxide is for...I once told them the truth and they refused to sell it to me! tell them it's either for cleaning a wound or for gargling, and it was recommended by your physician.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by PKL View Post
    Stig,

    the chemist might ask what the hydrogen peroxide is for...I once told them the truth and they refused to sell it to me! tell them it's either for cleaning a wound or for gargling, and it was recommended by your physician.
    You can order very strong peroxide from ebay, no questions asked, then dilute as required. I once asked in a few hair dressers and chemist in the local town and got a few funny looks to say the least. Something about a bald man running around looking for hydrogen peroxide!!

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