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fm1798

“Mount your own antlers!”

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How to Make a European-Style Antler Skull Mount The stars aligned this fall! We put our trial cameras out around June 1st. We left them for two months before checking. We went out earlier in the day and switched-out the USB cards. We returned to the cabin with all eyes glued to the television, as if it where Superbowl Sunday! The sound of holing and hooting soon echoed from our screened-in excitement, as the pictures begin to show what was leaving tracks in our woods! A nice 8-pointer! Not necessarily big enough to head and shoulder mount, but a nice antler mount.

From that day forward, we worked our food plots and spread DEER CAIN, hoping that this dandy-of-a buck wood stick around for fall hunting season.

Sure enough! A half-hour after sunrise this same buck walks within 30 feet of my stand. All are hard work paid off! The hunt doesn’t start on opening day. It starts many months before you hear that first shot!

I called around to see how much it would cost to mount the skull and antlers. Many taxidermist charge around $125 to $150. After researching the web and watching several YouTube videos, I felt comfortable I could tackle this myself.

fm1799Below are my instructions to easily mount the deer head and celebrate the fall harvest with an European-Style Antlers with Skull Mount:

What you will need:

  • Large Pot
  • Powdered Borax
  • Dawn Liquid Dish Washing Soap
  • High-Pressure Washer (Borrow one if you have too!)
  • Board to mount skull (I bought mine from McKenzie Taxidermy Supply)
  • Drywall Anchor to hold the skull to the mounting plate

Instructions:

  1. Remove hide, eyes, nose from skull
  2. Fill and heat a large pot of water (This is very stinky and I recommend doing the cooking outside)
  3. Add a small amount of dish washing detergent and 1-cup of Borax
  4. Bring the water to a very slow rolling boil (Important, otherwise you may lose bone and cartilage)
  5. Do NOT let the antlers rest below the water line. They will become white like the skull if you do! The base of my antlers got a little white, which may happen to you. I used brown shoe polish to hide the discoloration
  6. Slow-boil for 1-hour and dump the water. This first batch of water will be greasy from the meat and brain cooking off the bone
  7. See what you can pull off
  8. Continue to fill the pot and bring to slow boil (adding 1-cup borax and a small amount of liquid detergent)
  9. Soon, the meat will begin to fall of the bone. Use a knife to cut and remove as much as you can
  10. I went through the ear canal with a piece of electrical wire to help breakup the brain
  11. Now comes the fun part! Use a high-pressure washer to remove most of the brain matter and meat tissue. Try not to spray in one spot or to close because nose and teeth bone are delicate
  12. Continue to spray with the pressure washer and/or cook until all meat is removed

fml800It took me a total of 4-hours to complete. You may lose part of the nose cavity. The bones of the nose are very delicate. Simply, glue them on once everything dries.

The next day, I wrapped the antlers with blue painters tape and sprayed the skull with Matte Acrylic Clear Spray to preserve and protect.

I drilled a hole underneath the skull and recessed the head of a Drywall Anchor Bolt through the back of a Walnut Mounting Board. The skull provides easy access where the spine meets the head. Use a Drywall Anchor that expands and tighten against the mounting board.

That’s it!

Fat Man’s Landing, MN

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“Ten-Point Buck Antler Shed.”

While searching for Morel mushrooms, I found this antler shed from a ten-point buck. I don’t know who was more surprised, while walking only a few more steps, I could see a large deer running with a doe. Could this be the buck that lost this antler? As I continued my search for Morels, I spotted turkeys, coyotes, owls and Wood Ducks.

Fat Man’s Landing, MN

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Finding Deer Antlers in Minnesota Woods

Some call it luck…I call Fate. This fall, my buddy Brian and I walked the trails hunting for grouse only to find this ivory memento of a large eight-point buck.

Congratulations! What A great find!

Fat Man’s Landing, MN

 

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A Star-of-a-buck in Starbuck, Minnesota.

Whether it’s “First blood gets the deer” or “The person who makes the killing shot?” In either case, it’s not an easy answer.

My friend hunts private property near Starbuck, MN. He usually hunts a fence line dividing two fields. On this day, the neighbors were hunting close by, so he decided to hunt the adjacent woods. From his stand he heard a shot and watched as the neighbors drag a doe to their vehicle. While watching the hunters, a massive buck moving slowly, through tall switchgrass, caught his eye! The deer was between my friend and the other hunters. As the deer moved passed the other hunters, a safe shot presented itself. He took the shot and the deer dropped! You can imagine how excited he was! He yelled from his stand, “I have a big buck down!” The other hunters walk in his direction as my friend climbed down from his stand. The hunters and my friend walked towards the deer from opposite sides — at 30-yards the deer gets up and starts to run. A hunter from the other party shoots and hits the spine — killing the deer.

The Loaded Question?
Later inspection, my friend had hit the deer in the hind quarter. It was a deer of a lifetime! A huge 11-point buck worthy of a wall mount!

As everyone stood around the deer, the question came up, “So who’s deer is it anyways?” The hunter who shot the second time felt it was his deer. My friend feels that if he had not called the others over — that he would have had a second shot.  In the end, my friend decided it wasn’t worth arguing over and walked away the better man.

So what do you think? Please share your thoughts.

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Each year, the summer heat lifts and the first fall breeze fills my head with excitement. This is a time for hunters, near and far, to dial in their groups, rig decoys, ready their best four-legged friend and put the finishing touches on the gear. Yes! This is a magical time — when we reflect on seasons past and prepare with anticipation for this years harvest.

With the 2011 hunting season upon us, there’s no better time then RIGHT NOW to start setting goals.

Having yearly goals is a great way to achieve success.

The same principles translate to everyday life. When we focus on something important — something we really want to achieve and work hard towards, we truly maximize our potential. From a hunting standpoint, you’ll soon realize that by doing this, you gain much more from the experiencee of planning. Before you know it — your skills, knowledge and overall enjoyment of the outdoors has also increased!

The goals you set — whether it’s herd management, shot proficiency, gaining greater knowledge or simply forming a better attitude; the fact is…it makes you a better hunter! The next step is to recognize what’s realistic (especially with the amount of time you have to invest with each goal).

For as long as I can remember, I’ve set goals for each season. Because I have new goals, I’ve matured as a hunter and a man. I remember some of my earliest goals: “Shoot my first grouse” or “hear a buck grunt.” Even as a bright-eyed youngster, I became less concerned with killing the buck I saw chasing a doe, but rather —  THRILLED with seeing the whole experience! I realized that it isn’t so much about the destination, as it is the journey getting there.

There are many ways to measure success. If you fall short of reaching your goal — what matters most is the experience you gain and lessons learned in the process. It will certainly give you a sense of accomplishment and a better outlook on what it means to “pursue game.”

Whether you enjoy chasing fur, fins or feathers — start setting seasonal goals and before-long, you’ll start to experience what I like to call, “Increased Hunting Success!”

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