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Coyote Mounting | Options to Preserve a Coyote

Introduction to Coyote Mounting and Coyote Skull Cleaning Methods

If you’ve lived in rural areas almost anywhere in the United States, there’s a good chance you’ve had to deal with coyotes at one point or another. In some locations, they can be a downright nuisance. They are effective predators and can kill whitetail fawns very easily. The easiest solution to this problem is hunting or trapping them. But while many treat them as vermin, there’s no denying that their furs and skulls can actually look great when preserved. Coyote mounting and skull cleaning isn’t something a lot of people do, but you’ve got several options if you’re interested!

Coyote Hunting or Trapping?

Depending on how you’re going to mount a coyote, hunting or trapping can be a better application. For example, if you’re after a big coyote skull mount, hunting makes more sense. You can physically pick out the biggest coyote in the pack before shooting it. If you don’t care about the skull size, trapping works because you just need any coyote.

But if you’re after a full body mount or coyote pelt wall mount, trapping it sometimes makes more sense. If you check your traps frequently (which you should anyway), a coyote isn’t likely to chew at its leg too much before you can get there and dispatch them. A simple head shot (often in the ear) with a .22 long rifle is plenty enough to do the job and doesn’t leave a giant hole in the pelt that needs to be repaired.

What is considered a Trophy Coyote?

Coyote mounting is the same as all wild game mounts – “trophy” is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe you’re interested in taking a coyote with a really beautiful pelt. Some animals have really full coats with bold colors (e.g., dark black contrasting with gray and red) and some have mangy, thin coats that are all one blended color of gray. Maybe you just want a big coyote, either for its skull size or for a coyote rug. In that case, males tend to be bigger than females, and northern states tend to have larger animals than southern states. But a truly big coyote runs close to 50 pounds. If you can find one like that, it would make a great pelt or coyote skull mount!

Coyote Mounting Options

As mentioned, there are several methods for mounting a coyote. If you’ve got a real coyote infestation on your property, you could try a few of each style.

European Skull Mount

A coyote European mount is the easiest coyote mounting option and doesn’t take up much space, yet it produces a really interesting taxidermy piece for your collection. Similar to cleaning a bear skull, you’ll need to remove the hide and clean the skull a bit – both to save on shipping and because the beetles don’t need a feast. The video below shows you how to clean a coyote skull before sending it in.

As you can see on our services page, after sending your coyote skull into Beetle Juice Skull Works, we let the beetles thoroughly clean it inside and out. We then kill any remaining beetles on or in the skull and degrease it. Finally, we go through the process of whitening a coyote skull, and then ship it back to you. You’ll have a bright and beautiful skull to display on the shelf in no time. You can always get a coyote skull mount completed in addition to a full body mount and/or tanned hide, just one more trophy to remember a great hunt or trap line!

Full Body Coyote Mount

Whether you choose to do a full body mount or even just a coyote shoulder mount, you’ll need to preserve the pelt as best you can. Your taxidermist can likely find a coyote form in several different positions and postures to suit your style. You can also have them add natural elements (e.g., tree branches, grass, etc.) to the coyote mount to make it look very realistic.

 

Coyote Pelt

If you decide on just preserving the pelt, you’ll either need to tan the hide yourself or find someone to do it for you. After skinning the coyote, you’ll need to remove the remaining flesh and fat from the interior and salt the hide. Then you’ll use various household or store-bought chemicals to pickle and tan the hide, followed by stretching and softening it. If you just want a hide to hang on the wall, you shouldn’t need to soften it that much. But you definitely should with a rug mount. This is a process, so make sure you know what you are getting into before starting. Again, if your going this route you can still get a coyote skull mount!

Are coyotes ruining your hunting property or harassing your farm animals? If so, it might be time to give coyote mounting some serious thought. Every time you look at that skull or pelt, you’ll be reminded that there’s one less canine out there to wreak havoc.

 

 

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.