Over the past couple of years, I’ve written many articles and made several videos about how to do a European skull mount, including the traditional boiling and chemical method and a much faster method. This time, I’ll be sharing with you how to do a skull mount using one of the reproduction European mount kits. These kits are available at all the big outdoor stores such as Cabales and Bass Pro Shops, and you can order them online as well. Now I have to admit, I’ve never been a big fan of these reproduction skulls because, frankly, they just look fake to me and I’ve rarely seen a mount done with one of these kits that looked convincing. So, I thought it would be a good challenge to try to do a mount with one of these kits and really try to make it look like an authentic European skull mount.
The kit I’m using here is the Mountain Mike’s Record Keeper European Mount Kit. With this kit you can use the entire skull plate from your deer in order to keep the measurements accurate, especially if it’s a really big, record book deer. They also make kits where you simply cut off the antlers and screw them in place. But no matter which one you use, these extra steps will really help it look more real. The kit comes with directions on the back, some epoxy, touch-up paint, and mounting hardware…much of which I didn’t use.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to cut and trim your skull plate so it fits at least somewhat naturally into the gap on the plastic skull. Next, you need to attach your skull plate to the skull with the included mounting screws. You can do this by clamping the plate to the skull and drilling some holes in your skull plate based on the pre-drilled pilot holes. However, these didn’t work so well for me as they barely caught the end of the skull plate. So, I drilled my own pilot holes a little further back to get a more secure fit and then screwed the antlers in place.
After your skull plate is attached to the top of the skull, you then attach the top portion to the bottom portion with two small screws that are included with the kit.
The next step is to fill in the gaps around your skull plate and blend it all together with the included epoxy, which is basically a tube of JB Weld. So you knead and mix the epoxy thoroughly and simply mold it all around your skull plate and antlers to make it all look like one piece.
You’ve got about 15 minutes of working time before the epoxy sets, and before it dries, you can also take a nail and carve in some skull plate cracks in the epoxy so it matches up and blends in better with the plastic skull. This is also a very important step to make the mount look more authentic when it’s all finished. I ended up using a little more epoxy than the kit came with, but after I molded it all in I let it dry completely for a day before the next step.
Before I started doing all the finishing work I taped up the antlers so I didn’t get them covered in dust and paint, and I especially made sure to cover the area around the underside of the pedicles and antler base as you can see below.
Next, it was time to shape and blend the epoxy in, which I did with sandpaper and my Dremel tool, working my way down from 80 to 220 grit. I also sanded the actual plastic skull which helps to give the entire piece more of a blended, natural-looking, uniform finish when it’s all done. After the skull was all shaped and sanded down, I carved in more of the skull plate separations which are quite prominent on a real European mounted skull and again really help to give this kit an authentic look. I used my Dremel tool with a fine engraving bit as you can see below.
Finally, it was time to give it a few coats of paint. Now I’ve covered this in some of my past DIY taxidermy videos, but to give a skull or any kind of bone a beautiful, natural, bleached-out look, I use Kilz primer and seal spray. It goes on very easily, dries fast, and has a really nice flat, bone-like finish to it when it dries. I use it on real skulls for European mounts, and it’s a vital part of making these kits look real too.
I gave the skull two or three light coats of Kilz and let it dry overnight, then simply took off the masking tape, touched up the pedicel areas of the skull with the white paint that comes with the kit, and hung it on the wall. As you can see below, it doesn’t look exactly like a real deer skull, but it’s not too bad, and for people who don’t know the anatomy and structure of a deer skull, it looks quite convincing…especially from a distance while hanging on the wall.
So to wrap it up, with just a few simple additional steps you can make one of these kits look pretty real…at least much better than slapping it all together as it comes out of the package. Check out the video below to see more…