How to make a European Mount
European mounts are one of my favorite discoveries. They’re cool, cheap and relatively easy. Basically, everything I shoot with horns or antlers that doesn’t justify a caped shoulder mount gets the European mount treatment. Predator skulls are great to do too. You don’t need any technical taxidermy skill and you can get it on the wall for less than $35 with mounting hardware. Assuming your wife will let you use one of her pots to boil a head. Also get out European and Hydro Dip materials guide, download for free HERE!
Step 1 – Cleaning Before you Heat
Once you remove the animals head you’ll want to make sure you take all the skin off the head. From here there are many different techniques to remove all the meat, facia, ligaments etc… from the head. These techniques vary from burying the head in the ground for months to purchasing flesh eating beetles and locking them in with your head. Personally, I get a heavy-duty trash bag and throw the head in it for 3-4 months. After this, you’ll want to clean the rotten flesh that remains off with a garden hose or pressure washer. If using a pressure washer make sure you only use it on substantial portions of the skull as the nasal bones can be fragile. Pro Tip: Also keep your mouth closed when you do this, it can get gross…
Step 2 – Cooking
If you want to speed up the timeline you can skip Step 1 but you’ll have to heath the skull longer which increases the chances of over cooking. Once you removed as much meat as possible, you’ll simmer the head in a pot of water. You are essentially cooking all the organic material off the bone. The longer and hotter you cook the head the more brittle the bone becomes. So, you want to cook it just long enough and hot enough to clean it. While it’s cooking, you want to add dish soap (Dial works best) to de-grease the skill. This will remove much of the oil that is in the head and remove some of the yellow color.
Step 3 – Bleach
You will need to bleach the skull to give it the sharp white European mount look. The dish soap will do some of this by removing the grease. There are several methods to do this but, i have found this to be the best. Mix 40 volume cream Peroxide Developer and Basic White 2. These are actually beauty supplies used for bleaching hair. Follow the directions on the package and once it is mixed to a paste smear all over the skull. Be careful not to tough anything you don’t want bleached (i.e. your cloths) and wear gloves. Wrap the skull in saran wrap and let sit for a day or two. You can place the skull in the sun during this phase, but I have seen the results are just as good without doing so. After a day or two unwrap and rinse the skull.
Step 4 – Finishing
After the skull is dried out you will want to apply a few (2 or 3) coats of a polyurethane aerosol spray. This will also solidify any loosening skull plates that might exist from over boiling. That’s it! Now you can place your European mount on a wooden mount or just a simple bracket that looks just as good!
Bonus Step – Check out our upcoming tutorial on Hydro Dipping a European mount and substitute it for Step 3. This is awesome!