Skull Plate Mount Kit Tips

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I recently completed my first skull plate mount of my buck antelope from the 2010 season.  I used a kit from Van Dykes, and I thought I would pass along the tips my dad shared with me, as well as one or two I figured out on my own.  I have only completed the one antelope kit, but these tips should work for kits for other species as well.

1.     Leave as much depth to the skull as possible when you remove the antlers/horns from the skull of the animal.  This gives you more skull to work with as you try to make a nice, flat cut at your desired angle for displaying your antlers/horns.  I think skull plate mounts look better if you can tip the horns back, rather than having antlers/horns come out perpendicular to the plaque.

2.    Use wood shims and glue to stabilize and adjust the angle that the antlers/horns come off the plaque.

3.    Use a hot air gun to heat the plastic cap.  It makes the plastic more pliable and easier to trim in order to make the antlers/horns fit better.

4.    Use needle-nose pliers to hold the tacks as your start hammering them into the plastic cap.

5.    Use a tack hammer.  You can use a normal hammer, but the smaller hammer seems to result in fewer bent tacks.

6.    Start the tacks into the plastic cap before sliding the cap over the antlers/horns.  This makes it easier to get the tacks positioned where you want and get them started.

7.    Use a transparent glue to hold the cord around the base of the antlers/horns.  Use the cord if, like me, you need to conceal some of your mistakes as you tried to fit the cap to the antlers/horns.

Specifically for the antelope kit, I found that popsicle sticks work well to mix and apply the horn glue while a small Styrofoam cup worked well to mix the glue in.

Antelope Mount 2010

The directions that came with the Van Dyke kit were adequate, but they definitely leave room for you to try to improve on the process.  I am entirely a beginner when it comes to completing my own skull plate mounts, but these tips that my dad shared with me definitely saved me some frustration.  I am not incredibly gifted when it comes to working with my hands, so if I can do it, anybody can.  I like skull plate mounts as I think they offer an economical way to create a nice looking display of your most recent trophy.  The satisfaction that you get from doing it yourself is simply icing on the cake.


Deer Slayer's picture

Great tip. My dad and I

Great tip. My dad and I already have several of these. We did not do them but they do make a nice display. Your mount looks like it was professionaly done. Very nice job. Thanks for sharing. 

Rem2arms's picture

Good tip, I have a number of

Good tip, I have a number of them mounted that way, trying to get at least 1 of each but I'm missing a 6 point :(  I CAN NOT get a 6 point to save my butt. I've seen the full skull mounts and I'd like to try those, I think they're neat looking.

arrowflipper's picture


Thanks for the tips and thanks for being candid.  You admited that it wasn't the easiest thing in the world but you made it sound like something we could all do.  I appreciate that. 

I liked that you went into full detail of how you proceeded with the project, including little things that some might not think are all that important..... like starting the tacs before putting them on.

I have never done a European mount but reading this makes it look doable.  A friend of mine has done a few of his deer this way.  He has some with the skull showing and one that has a metal skull plate from Cabelas.  I know some won't like it, but I really do.  I wouldn't do all my animals this way, but one sure looks good.  It almost looks Gothic but I think it's cool.

Again, thanks for the tip and thanks for being open and honest about doing it.  If anyone is interested in looking at the metal skull plates, click on this link.

ManOfTheFall's picture

Thanks for the tip. I don't

Thanks for the tip. I don't know if I will ever try this myself, but if I do I will have some tips to make a reference to. I would say it looks like a professional did that mount. Very nice.

WishIWasHunting's picture


Thanks everyone for the feedback!  It is good to know somebody is taking the time to read through the stuff we put out here. 

numbnutz's picture

Great tips, thanks for taking

Great tips, thanks for taking the time to write this up for everyone to use. Like critter said it only takes a smak or 2 to run for those needle nose, I have done it a few times. again thanks for sharing.

Critter's picture

Nice tips, you can always

Nice tips, you can always tell an experienced person when they start to put those small tacks into wood like that.  It only takes a couple of smacks with a hammer before you go get the needle nose pliers to hold them insead of your fingers.

groovy mike's picture


Thanks for the tips. They sound like good ones.  I've never used this particular kit (or taken a prong horn for that matter!), but what you said is basically true for all of teh antler mounting kits I have used for white tail deer racks too.

jaybe's picture

Good Tip

Thanks for the tip - -it just took me a while to find it. But it was worth the wait.

I have several sets of antlers mounted, and have always used my own materials. The hardest part is getting a nice-looking finish around the skull plate.

If I get a mule deer this fall from Wyoming, I'm going to purchase one of these kits and the tips you have given will help me get a more professional-looking job.

Thanks again.

WishIWasHunting's picture

I think these kits make it

I think these kits make it fairly easy to create a nice looking mount.  The price is also right. 

Good luck mule deer hunting in Wyoming this fall.  You will have to post how the hunt turns out.