European Skull Mounts: The Easy Way
After having seen hundreds of inquiries from members of various hunting web sites asking how to do European Skull Mounts, the idea and appearance of the finished product began to pique my interest. Not wanting though, to go through the mess of boiling the natural skull or use flesh-eating beetles to clean it, either of which would have resulted in my wife JC ejecting me from the house instantaneously, I embarked on a search for a cleaner, more practical way of accomplishing the task.
After many hours of research regarding the subject, in the end I learned of a man named Tab Hinton of Tab Hinton Taxidermy & Supply who in 1966 had originated a series of first-rate replica skulls modeled directly from actual specimens. The skulls, molded from a durable two-part pour cast resin at first glance appeared to be the answer. I called Mr. Hinton and discussed the procedure with him and after his assurance that "anyone", (obviously he didn't know me!) could do a fine looking European Mount using his product. I ordered two of the whitetail reproduction skulls and began thinking about which sets of antlers of the many I have I would mount. Several years ago I had killed a nice ten point buck with a bow in West Virginia and a wide eight point in Pennsylvania. With a daughter in college I was not in a financial position to have either one mounted, so I capped the skulls and was planning to just nail them on a beam at my camp, they... now became my test subjects.
I hoped the Hinton skulls would do justice to the two trophy racks and was anxious to get started but knowing all too well my limitations I wanted some professional advise before I got halfway through the procedure then ran into a problem. I contacted my friend Mike LaRosa who owns Mike's Taxidermy in Acme Pa., Mike is a very talented Taxidermist who I knew if asked, would come to my aid if needed, especially if I followed my request with an offer of a couple of bags of my pineapple and soy deer jerky. When I called Mike and explained what I was about to attempt, I swear I heard a muffled chuckle on the other end of the line followed by a brief silence, but... at the mention of the jerky he did agree to help but only if needed.
Mike knows better than most when it comes to hands on work, to say I am handicapped would be somewhat of an understatement. When my wife JC sees me heading for the workshop she calls the local ER and puts them on notice.
As you will see by the illustrations the process was easy and fast. I now have two European Skull Mounts that indeed do justice to the bucks I killed at a fraction of a head mount.
Tab Hinton Reproduction Whitetail skull, medium grit sandpaper and jars containing Magic Sculpt. Rough up cut out section on reproduction skull and base of cut off skullcap with sandpaper. Trim base if needed.
After trimming skull plate and roughing with sandpaper set in cut out section of reproduction skull to determine correct spacing for holes to be drilled for attaching skull plate.
Using a power drill carefully space and countersink holes for drywall screws, I used 2" screws but their length may be adjusted according to your individual needs.
Position skull with attached antlers onto cut out and attach with screws. (DO NOT over tighten screws they can strip or split bone base.)
Once having attached the antler plate to the skull, form a ball the size of a ping pong ball from each container of the Magic Sculpt. Then place them together in your hands and knead them until they are mixed. The bonding action of the two will not begin until they are mixed.
Form the Magic Sculpt around the pedestal of the base and antlers until you have something that closely resembles the natural skullcap as in the photo.
The directions that are supplied by Tab Hinton suggest holding the attached portion of the skull under running water while working and smoothing out the Magic Sculpt. I found that using a spray bottle of water would do the job as easily and without the mess. Add only enough water to keep the material pliable and that will allow it to smooth.
Once you have worked the material onto the skullcap with the water and your fingers to the point that it appears in the photo, let it set for a few minutes before proceeding with the final step.
This part of the procedure is very important. Using a T-pin very carefully inscribe the bone seam at the top of the skull until it looks something like the next photo.
Once having completed this process allow it to dry completely, I would suggest at least 24 hours in a well-ventilated area.
Finally, using lacquer or latex paint, airbrush a coat of white on the epoxy area. Mix 3 drops of yellow ochre in with about a tablespoon of white paint for this. This will leave a bone colored finish and will match the artificial skull.
As you can see from the photograph below, the process went flawlessly and even I came away with two fine looking European Skull mounts, that anyone would be proud to have hanging on their wall or on a wooden pedestal mount.
The process is easy if the outlined steps are followed and the antlers and skull plate are prepared correctly before attempting the procedure.
Tab Hinton may be contacted at www.tabhintontaxidermy-sup.com for pricing and information about the Whitetail reproduction skulls.
The Magic Sculpt can be ordered at www.SculptingStudio.com.
If you're a hunter who has a few sets of antlers around, you only WISH you had got mounted, give this a try, I am sure you will be pleased with the results. I plan on tackling the mule deer reproduction skull next. If I can do the whitetail skull, I should be able to handle the mule deer. But I'm making some more jerky just in case I have to call Mike.
The best part about this undertaking has been in the end even the little woman likes the look of these mounts, and as many of us know that is half the battle when it comes time to hang them.
Hunt hard, hunt safe and hunt fair. H. "Bumper" Bauer is a freelance outdoor writer and wildlife photographer and is a pro staff member of McLaughlin Game Call Company of Reynoldsville Pa. and Pennsylvania Back Country Television.