Over the past couple of years, I’ve done two different videos on this subject which you can check out at the Wild Revelation Outdoors Youtube Channel, or simply click on the images below. The first video I did was a method showing how to do a European mount using the traditional bleaching chemicals and whitening agents that taxidermists often use. In the second video, I share a much easier, much faster method which in my opinion also gets much better results. The method I cover here is an updated version of that second method in which I share some of the finer details, so let’s get started.
The first step in doing a European mount is to clean your skull. If you find a skull that’s been out in the woods for months or even years, then mother nature has most likely done all the dirty work already for you, as the skull will be clean and free of any tissue…however it may be discolored quite a bit.
If you’re a hunter and are doing a mount of an animal you just harvested, you’ll have a lot more work to do. The most popular method for cleaning a skull is to boil it, which works great, but make sure you do it outside, because it stinks really bad! Very importantly, make sure you don’t overboil the skull or the whole thing will start to fall apart. For boiling, simply put your skull in a large pot, cover in water up to the base of the antler pedicles, and boil for ten to fifteen minutes. You simply want to get the tissue soft so it can easily be removed.
The second method for cleaning a skull takes much longer, but it’s very effective, and that is to bury your skull in the dirt. For this method, you simply bury the skull up to the antler pedicels and let nature take its course for several weeks to several months. You also want to be sure that you’re doing this in a place where it won’t be dug up by animals or your dog.
After your skull is good and clean, the next step is to fill the skull cavity with either Bondo body filler, which is a taxidermist’s best friend, or, you can use wood filler. As the filler starts to set, secure a mounting bolt right in the middle of it, and get it lined up so it’s level and in line with the skull. If you’re not going to be mounting your skull on a display panel of some kind, you can skip this step.
Next, it’s time to whiten the skull. First, mask off the antlers all the way up to the base of the pedicels once again, and even go just a little bit under the antler bases with masking tape. For whitening a skull, I’ve found that nothing is faster, easier, and looks more natural than Kilz primer and sealer. It works fantastic for these kinds of projects and results in a very natural-looking finish. To apply it, just head outside and start spraying it on in light, even coats. I generally give each skull two to three light coats which works just fine.
After the Kilz dries for a day or two, peel off the masking tape, and then touch up the antlers. Wipe them down with a little paint thinner, and then apply a light coat of special walnut-colored wood stain to bring them back to life.
For the display panel I’m using on this mount, I’m using one I made from a black walnut wood cookie. If you’d like to learn how to make wood cookies for such projects, I did a recent video on that too which you can check out here.
To mount the skull to the panel, I first put a nut and washer on the bolt near the skull, run the blot through the panel, apply another washer and nut, and tighten it all down. I also route out the back of the panel a little bit so the bolt and nut fit flush against the wall. Depending on how big of a bolt you use, you may have to cut off the excess with a hacksaw or grinder/cutting wheel.
And after that, it’s good to go. Here are a couple of finished products ready for the wall.