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How to Get Your Own Elk European Mount

Cleaning Skulls for an Elk European Mount

Whether you were lucky enough to tag out on your first bull elk ever or your 10th trophy elk, there’s no denying that those antlers seem to captivate us. There’s something about the unusual symmetry and glistening white tips that just amazes us. But if you want to display them, you might have a problem. Full elk shoulder mounts come with a large price tag and they take up a lot of space on a wall. So the next best option is doing your own elk European mount. European mounts are beautiful in their own way, offer a simpler looking design that doesn’t occupy a whole wall, and they don’t cost a fraction of a full mount. And if you’re looking for elk mounts for low ceilings, this is also the way to go. So if you’re wondering how to do a European elk mount, here’s what you need to know.

How to Clean an Elk Skull

This process is very similar to cleaning a deer skull since they are in the same family. You’ll first need to skin the head and remove as much of the muscle tissue as possible. Keep the knife blade flat against the skull as much as you can so that you don’t score the skull, which will show up in the final elk European mount. To remove the eyeballs, grab them firmly with a set of pliers and cut around the eye socket to free it up a bit. Pull it further out and cut behind the back side to remove it. On the bottom jaw of the skull, use your knife to cut a V-shaped wedge so that you can remove the tongue and most of the esophageal tissue. Then clean up the sides along the jaw bones and any muscle tissue on the top of the head. Once the skull is fairly cleaned up, it is ready for the next step.

Though there are technically a few options you could try at home to make your elk European mount, the best option might be hard for you to do. You’ve probably heard it by now, but dermestid beetles are the best way to clean a skull. They efficiently remove every little scrap of meat from the smallest nooks and crannies, all without weakening the bone structure (like boiling or chemicals do). But keeping your own colony of beetles is a full time job and might take a little too much persuasion and brownie points for your significant other. Instead, ship the skull to Beetle Juice Skull Works, where we have all the beetle colonies ready to go. Our skull cleaning services will completely clean the skull, degrease it, and whiten it for you. See here for our skull cleaning prices.

Elk Skull Mount Options

Now that you’ve got your skull back, it’s time to actually make your elk European mount look great up on the wall. You could simply hang the skull on a piece of wire attached to a screw in the wall, get a skull wall hanger, or you could buy a European elk mount kit at the store. Some people prefer to get an elk European mount plaque for their trophy elk mounts, which definitely spruces it up a bit. Depending on what color/shade the antlers are, various types of wood plaques look better together. We can do the plaque for you as well if you wish.

That’s all there is to it. With a little knife work, some patience while the beetles do their job, and some creativity in how you display it, your elk European mount will look fantastic.

Staining Deer Antlers and Weathered Deer Racks

How to Stain Deer Antlers

Randy Sanders, owner of Beetle Juice Skull Works skull cleaning service shows you the before and after of staining deer antlers on a weathered deer skull. Chances are you have a few of these in your collection from either finding dead deer, burying the deer head with the antlers exposed or just finding shed antlers that have been weathered for a long period of time. If this is the case, staining the antlers with a wood stain is the best solution for restoring the deer antler color.

Staining Weathered White Deer Antlers

After a long period of time, the sun can bleach deer antlers. Over the course of a year or two, a deer skull will still have some flesh on it, but the antlers will be bleached white and brittle. Often times some of the biggest deer antlers or deer racks are found like this due to predation, a misplaced shot, or disease. Fortunately, a little TLC with wood stain can go a long way to restoring the condition of the antlers.   

The process of staining deer antlers or restoring a deer rack to its original color can be tricky. Randy’s before and after is the finished result of a perfected and experienced process. The skull will be cleaned with dermistid beetles, whitened, and degreased for a mount worthy result.

If you’re looking for how to stain deer antlers yourself we would offer a word of caution. Restoring deer antlers with wood stain can quickly ruin antlers. Leaving too much stain on the antlers for too long can result in discolored antlers or a blotchy finished product. A deer’s antler is usually darkest at the base getting slowly lighter as it extends above the brow tine. It is then mottled with darker brown streaks. This look can take years to perfect so be cautious on how much stain is applied and how long it is left on the deer antler. 

Have more skulls laying around in the garage or freezer? Check out what Beet Juice Skull Works skull cleaning service can do for you!

 

How to Clean a Coyote Skull | Coyote Skull Mounting

Cleaning a Coyote Skull

Randy Sanders of Beetle Juice Skull Works, a dermestid beetle skull cleaning service, shows you how to clean a coyote skull. Coyote skull mounts are a great way to save another trophy display for that beautiful or giant coyote you recently harvested or trapped.

Want to preserve a skull? Dermestid beetles are the best way to clean a skull, and results in a perfectly intact, white skull mount!

Look At Skull Prices Here

Check Out Our Process Here

Learn More About Dermestid Beetles Here

How to Clean a Bobcat Skull | Bobcat Skull Mounting

Cleaning a Bobcat Skull

Randy Sanders of Beetle Juice Skull Works, a dermestid beetle skull cleaning service, shows you how to clean a bobcat skull. Bobcat skull mounts are a great way to save another trophy display for that beautiful or giant bobcat you recently harvested or trapped.

Want to preserve a skull? Dermestid beetles are the best way to clean a skull, and results in a perfectly intact, white skull mount!

Look At Skull Prices Here

Check Out Our Process Here

Learn More About Dermestid Beetles Here

How to Clean a Fox Skull | Fox Skull Mounting

Cleaning a Fox Skull

Randy Sanders of Beetle Juice Skull Works, a dermestid beetle skull cleaning service, shows you how to clean a fox skull. Fox skull mounts are a great way to save another trophy display for that beautiful or giant fox you recently harvested or trapped.

Want to preserve a skull? Dermestid beetles are the best way to clean a skull, and results in a perfectly intact, white skull mount!

Look At Skull Prices Here

Check Out Our Process Here

Learn More About Dermestid Beetles Here

How to Clean an Otter Skull | Otter Skull Mounting

Cleaning an Otter Skull

Randy Sanders of Beetle Juice Skull Works, a dermestid beetle skull cleaning service, shows you how to clean an otter skull. Otter skull mounts are a great way to save another trophy display for that beautiful or giant otter you recently harvested or trapped.

Want to preserve a skull? Dermestid beetles are the best way to clean a skull, and results in a perfectly intact, white skull mount!

Look At Skull Prices Here

Check Out Our Process Here

Learn More About Dermestid Beetles Here

What is the Best Way to Clean a Skull?

European Mounting | The Best Way To Clean a Skull

After days (or even weeks) in the field, you finally managed to put your hit-list buck, or bucket-list moose, elk, or bear on the ground. It’s a great feeling holding the trophy in your hands and you can already see that beautiful European mount up on the wall in your living room. But then you start to wonder about the best way to clean a skull for that kind of a mount. We’ve all heard horror stories of others who have tried and ruined their European mounts. You definitely don’t want to join that club!

Questions are probably swarming through your mind. “What fancy taxidermy equipment do I need? Do I bleach my deer skull or is that bad? Could I even do this all at home?”

There are several methods to clean a skull and finish a European mount, but only one that seems to consistently be the best way to clean a skull. And if you’re going for a trophy you’d be proud to hang on the living room wall, you need to do it right. Otherwise, it will be quickly downgraded to the garage wall. So if you’re wondering how to clean a deer skull (or any other species), this post discusses the pitfalls and drawbacks to the other approaches of cleaning a skull, and then discusses the dermestid beetle method.

Different Ways of Cleaning a Skull 

As mentioned, there are a few options to produce a European deer mount or any type of European skull mount.

what is the best way to clean a skull featureThe first and oldest option of doing it is to simply hang it up somewhere out of sight or bury it in the ground until nature takes its course. While this is the most hands-off approach and does effectively clean the skull, it has a few unpleasant outcomes. First, it can take several months or more to get a mostly-clean skull. Second, burying the skull may cause yellowing as dirt and other chemical reactions in the soil tarnish the naturally white color. Sometimes leaving it out may even turn the skull a greenish color, which isn’t appealing unless it’s part of a camouflage paint job. Strike one.

Another option is to simply submerge the skull into a pot of boiling water, which produces a soup of unpleasant-looking materials. This may work somewhat well, but the hot water leaches minerals out of the bone and softens it, which could cause it to become brittle much sooner than it should. Even submerging it in simmering water for a longer time period can do swell the bones and leach minerals. Plus, you still have to scrape the skull to remove some of the unpleasantness when it’s done. Definitely not the best way to clean a skull. Strike two.

After cleaning it, you may consider bleaching a deer skull to whiten it further and make it look more striking against the dark antlers. Unfortunately, using chlorine bleach on the bone will also break down the bone structure and make it extremely brittle. A deer mount that crumbles within a few years is a pity. Strike three. So where does that leave you?

How to Do a European Mount with Beetles

Now that you know the potential problems with the other methods, here’s why you should consider the Beetle Juice Skull Works method. Though we’re heavily discussing deer skulls here, you can apply the same principles to almost any other species. Dermestid beetles are a type of beetle that eats the flesh of dead animals. Obviously, that makes them very useful for this exercise. Since they are small, they can completely eat (i.e., clean) flesh from the smallest nooks and crannies, including cleaning the nasal cavity of a deer skull. This also makes it the most hands-off and best way to clean a skull.

what is the best way to clean a skull featureThe first step in the process is to skin the skull and remove as much flesh as you can, which will reduce the amount of material to be removed. The lower jaw, eyes, nose, and neck should all be removed to save you money on shipping, but they can be removed by the company as well. The brain will usually also be removed before placing the skull into the colony since these can break down into juicy problems for the beetles. Check out the step-by-step video tutorial below to prepare your skull.

The skull is then placed into the beetle colony, where the bugs begin to feast. A deer skull can be completely stripped of flesh within 24 hours of being placed in a colony, while larger skulls (i.e., moose, elk, etc.) may take a few days. What’s best about this approach is that the bone remains intact and strong, including the thin nasal cavity bones. That’s very hard to accomplish with the other methods, which is another reason this is the best way to clean a skull.

After the bugs have finished their dinner, the skulls are dipped into a special chemical solution to kill any remaining bugs or their larvae and eggs. Then the process of degreasing bones can happen, which will occur for varying durations (depending on the species). Deer skulls will typically take three to five days, while bears or hogs, which tend to be more oily, can take up to a month.

Why Beetle Juice Skull Works?

You could theoretically raise dermestid beetles on your own for this purpose, but you’d have to be very dedicated. A healthy colony will require a lot of attention, which can be hard for the average consumer to keep up with throughout the year. And since you’ll likely only need this kind of beetle colony a time or two in the fall, shipping your skull to this service just makes more sense. Unless your kids are looking for some new and exotic pets to add to the family.

So if decorating with deer mounts is your thing, you should strongly consider the beetle approach for doing a European mount. As you can see, it’s easily the best way to clean a skull and it will produce the best-looking European mount you can get, regardless of what animal you chase.